Authors: David Crockett

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

American frontiersman and memoirist

Author Works


A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett, 1834

An Account of Col. Crockett’s Tour to the North and Down East, 1835


The “real” Davy Crockett has all but yielded his place to the more striking images of him created by political manipulators and hero worshipers and to the larger-than-life figure presented by the Walt Disney television series based on the Crockett legend. Even while he was living, Crockett was fast becoming a legend as the bear hunter of the Shakes, the deadly marksman with a lethal grin, the droll yarn-spinner, and the coonskin hero of Whiggism. His death at the Alamo made him a demigod. His motto, Go Ahead, expressed the national sentiment of his America, as he himself was the embodiment of the romantic daring and energy of the frontier.{$I[AN]9810000561}{$I[A]Crockett, David}{$I[geo]UNITED STATES;Crockett, David}{$I[tim]1786;Crockett, David}

David Crockett

(Library of Congress)

It was not until he became a magistrate that Crockett learned to read and write. After two terms in the Tennessee legislature, he was sent to Congress in 1827 as a partisan of Andrew Jackson, under whose command he had served as scout in the campaign against the Creek tribes. During his first two terms, he broke with the administration, and in his third he vigorously opposed Jackson’s policy concerning the United States Bank. Defeated for reelection in 1835, Crockett led a group of Tennessee volunteers to Texas, where they all were killed the following year, with William Barret Travis and James Bowie, in the defense of the Alamo.

Aside from a few letters, very little of the works sometimes attributed to Crockett can be ascribed with confidence to his sole authorship. His speeches in Congress were probably touched up by a friend before being recorded, and today it is generally assumed that the biography of Martin Van Buren supposedly by Crockett, published in 1835, was largely the work of another. Both Sketches and Eccentricities of Col. David Crockett (1833) and Col. Crockett’s Exploits and Adventures in Texas (1836), whoever wrote or compiled them, make use of Crockett’s stories and belong to the vast body of legend concerning him and to the tall-tale literary tradition of the American frontier. A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett itself, though bearing signs of another helping hand, is substantially Crockett’s work. Valuable as a general picture of the times, it achieves distinction as a realistic account of frontier life, and its language often attains a classic directness and simplicity.

BibliographyCrockett, David. Narrative of the Life of David Crockett of the State of Tennessee. A facsimile edition with annotations and an introduction by James A. Shackford and Stanley J. Folmsbee. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1973. The insightful annotations make this the most useful version of Crockett’s autobiography.Davis, William C. Three Roads to the Alamo: The Lives and Fortunes of David Crockett, James Bowie, and William Barret Travis. New York: HarperCollins, 1998. Traces the fates of these legendary men.Derr, Mark. The Frontiersman: The Real Life and the Many Legends of Davy Crockett. New York: William Morrow, 1993. Derr supplies an informative and entertaining narrative of Crockett’s life.Dorson, Richard M., ed. David Crockett: American Comic Legend. 1939. Reprint. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1977. Helps in understanding the self-made legend.Hauck, Richard Boyd. Crockett: A Bio-Bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1982. This book contains an excellent biography of Crockett and an analysis of the style and content of his writings.Kilgore, Dan. How Did Davy Die? College Station: Texas A&M Press, 1978. Kilgore provides a careful analysis of the evidence concerning the way Crockett died.Lofaro, Michael A., ed. Davy Crockett: The Man, the Legend and the Legacy, 1786-1986. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1985. This volume deals mostly with the legends about Crockett, from the early almanacs to Disney’s television version.Lofaro, Michael A., and Joe Cummings, eds. Crockett at Two Hundred: New Perspectives on the Man and the Myth. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1989. This book contains ten scholarly articles on Crockett’s life, death, and writings, along with an extensive bibliography.Shackford, James Atkins. David Crockett: The Man and the Legend. Edited by John B. Shackford. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1956. This is the definitive scholarly biography of Crockett, although it needs to be brought up to date by Kilgore’s book on Crockett’s death.Shay, Frank. Here’s Audacity! American Legendary Heroes. 1930. Reprint. Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1967. Places Crockett in perspective within the American heroic tradition.
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