Thursday, February 11, 2010

David Crockett in Congress - The Rise and Fall of the Poor Man's Friend

Review of David Crockett in Congress: The Rise and Fall of the Poor Man's Friend by James R. Boylston and Allen J. Wiener
Review by K. K. Searle

An excerpt from the April 9, 1836 edition of the Niles Weekly Register (Baltimore, Maryland) provides the now famous account of Davy Crockett's arrival in Texas:
"A gentleman from Nacogdoches, in Texas, informs us, that, whilst there, he dined in public with col. Crockett, who had just arrived from Tennessee. The old bear-hunter, on being toasted, made a speech to the Texians, replete with his usual dry humor. He began nearly in this style: "I am told, gentlemen, that, when a stranger, like myself, arrives among you, the first inquiry is - what brought you here? To satisfy your curiosity at once to myself, I will tell you all about it. I was, for some years, a member of congress. In my last canvass, I told the people of my district, that, if they saw fit to re-elect me, I would serve them as faithfully as I had done; but, if not, they might go to h__, and I would go to Texas. I was beaten, gentlemen, and here I am." The roar of applause was like a thunder-burst. [Louisville Journal.

David Crockett died at the Alamo on March 6, 1836, a month and three days before this article finally appeared in the Niles Weekly Register. If you are like me and have always wondered why Crockett would have told the people of his Congressional district back in Tennessee that they might go to hell and he would go to Texas, then you need to read David Crockett in Congress: The Rise and Fall of the Poor Man's Friend.

David Crockett in Congress covers David Crockett's entire political career in the House of Representatives of the United States Congress in great detail. The book is a wonderful sampler of Jacksonian politics of the 1820's and 1830's from the perspective of an Andrew Jackson supporter (Crockett) who becomes disillusioned with Jackson and party politics.

The authors of this book did not just sit in a library and rehash secondary sources about David Crockett once again. They drew their conclusions almost exclusively from primary sources. In fact, Boylston and Wiener not only drew their conclusions from primary sources, such as correspondence, speeches and political circulars; but more than half the content of their book is transcriptions of those primary sources. The inclusion of these transcriptions allows readers to look at each of these documents for themselves to verify the accuracy of Boylston and Weiner's conclusions. I wish more historians were as courageous in this regard. Because of the transcriptions of so many key documents regarding the life of Crockett are now contained in one handy volume, this book is destined to be a valuable resource for researchers studying David Crockett for many years to come.

The book also gives a detailed account of David Crockett's meteoric rise to national celebrity status, something Crockett himself did not seem to understand. In the end, Crockett's fame was no help to him in his final campaign for re-election to Congress.

With Texas Independence Day (March 2) approaching rapidly, those wishing to know who David Crockett actually was before he became a hero of the Texas Revolution and later the "King of the Wild Frontier" can't go wrong reading David Crockett: The Rise and Fall of the Poor Man's Friend.

David Crockett: The Rise and Fall of the Poor Man's Friend is published by Bright Sky Press, copyright 2009, and is available from

Newspaper article is from the April 9, 1836 edition of the Niles Weekly Register, (Baltimore Maryland), page 99. Collection of K. K. Searle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, K K,

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