The Frontiersman

The Frontiersman

The Real Life and Many Legends of Davy Crockett

Book - 1993
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Baker & Taylor
Debunks commonly held myths about Crockett, depicting him as an impoverished farmer and a rustic member of the House of Representatives who incurred the wrath of President Jackson

Blackwell North Amer
Probably no figure in American history has been so frequently interpreted, reinterpreted, and misinterpreted as Davy Crockett, most notably as the flawless King of the Wild Frontier in the Disney TV series of the 1950s. Amazingly enough, until this biography by Mark Derr, no one has sifted through the surviving historical documents to find out the truth about a man who, for over a century and a half, has been one of the most enduring of American symbols.
Lionized by his admirers for his humor and eccentricities and condemned by his detractors as a drunkard, gambler, womanizer, and illiterate, Crockett galvanized opinion from the moment he entered public life. Great bear hunter, controversial politician, putative hero of the Alamo, Crockett was, in fact, the quintessential product of the age of the Common Man and among the most famous Americans of the late 1820s and early 1830s.
Born into a relatively poor family, forced at the age of twelve to begin working as a teamster, Crockett married at nineteen and became a tenant farmer in his native Tennessee. After serving without great distinction in the state militia during the War of 1812 and following the death of his first wife, he remarried, this time to Elizabeth Patton, a widow whose means and business acumen provided him with the financial resources and family connections to enter public life.
Crockett's rough grammar and amusing anecdotes brought him victories in elections and notoriety in the press. Sent to Congress in 1827, three years later he broke ranks with the followers of Andrew Jackson over their failure to enact land reforms and their program to remove the Indians living east of the Mississippi. Freakishly beaten for reelection at the height of his national fame, he told his constituents, "You can go to Hell, and I'll go to Texas." Author Mark Derr presents the consequences of the fateful decision and offers his own resolution to the controversy that has surrounded Crockett's final moments at the Alamo.
Bringing Crockett to life within the context of his times, Derr traces Crockett's development as both public figure and mythic hero - the frequent subject of plays, novels, grossly comic almanacs, and innumerable tall tales, written and oral. Derr also shows how Crockett cannily capitalized on his own celebrity by publishing, with the aid of ghostwriters, a best-selling autobiography and two other successful books.
Over the decades, Crockett's reputation as a frontiersman capable of "whipping his weight in wildcats" and "wringing the tail off Halley's Comet" has overwhelmed his real accomplishments. In this biography, he is rescued from the vicissitudes of popular and scholarly opinion and presented as a real person, a man of wit and intelligence, an indifferent congressman and soldier, who, for both the right and the wrong reasons, has become a permanent part of American culture.

& Taylor

Debunks commonly held myths about Crockett, depicting him as an impoverished farmer who depended on his wife's money and skill and a rustic member of the House of Representatives who incurred the wrath of President Jackson. 30,000 first printing. $20,000 ad/promo.

Publisher: New York : W. Morrow, 1993.
ISBN: 9780688096564
Branch Call Number: 920 CROCKETT, D.
Characteristics: 304 p., [8] leaves of plates : ill. ; 24 cm.


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