Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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CROCKETT, David, pioneer, born in Limestone, Greene County, Tennessee, 17 August 1786; died in Texas, 6 March 1836. His father, a Revolutionary veteran of Irish birth, moved to eastern Tennessee after the war, and about 1793 opened a small tavern on the road from Knoxville to Abingdon. When David was about twelve years old his father hired him to an old Dutchman, with whom he went 400 miles on foot, but, after remaining a few weeks with his master, ran away and succeeded in reaching home. Shortly afterward he was sent to school, but on the fourth day gave one of the pupils with whom he had quarreled a sound beating, and, after playing truant for a time to avoid a flogging, ran away from home to escape the vengeance of his father. For three years he worked for teamsters in Tennessee, Maryland, and Virginia, and for eighteen months was bound to a hatter in the last-named state. Tired of wandering about, he finally returned home, and shortly afterward worked hard for a year to pay two notes of his father's, amounting to $76. He then went to school for six months, and learned his letters for the first time, but relinquished study to seek a wife, and, after several disappointments in love, married and settled in Lincoln County in 1809, and about 1811 in Franklin County, one of the wildest parts of the state. Crockett had by this time acquired some fame as a hunter, and, at the beginning of the Creek war in 1813, he enlisted in a regiment of sixty-day volunteers. He served through the war, and after-ward settled on Shoal creek, in a desolate region of the state, where the settlers and Crockett formed a temporary government was made a magistrate. He was subsequently appointed to the same office by the state legislature, and was then elected colonel of militia. In 1821 he was a candidate for the legislature, and winning favor by telling amusing stories and by his skill with the rifle, was elected by a handsome majority, though he had never read a newspaper in his life, and was entirely ignorant of public speaking. In 1822 he lost all his property by fire, and moved again to the Obion River, where he devoted himself to his favorite occupation of hunting, living on bear-meat and venison, He served again in the legislature in 1823-'4, and in the latter year was an un-successful candidate for congress. In 1826 he was again a candidate, as a supporter of Jackson, and this time was elected, serving two terms, from 1827 till 1831.
In his second term he opposed Jackson's Indian bill, and this course caused his defeat in 1830; but he served again in 1833-'5. Crockett was popular at Washington, where he became noted not only for his eccentricity of manner, but for his strong common sense and shrewdness. He prided himself on his independence, and thus set forth his position: "I am at liberty to vote as my conscience and judgment dictate to be right, with-out the yoke of any party on me, or the driver at my heels, with his whip in hand, commanding me to ge-wo-haw, just at his pleasure."
After the increasing influence of Jackson in Tennessee, which made it impossible for Crockett to be re-elected to congress, he joined the Texans in their struggle for independence, and, having performed various exploits, ended his adventurous life in the famous defense of the Alamo, where, as one of the six survivors of a band of 140 Texans, he surrendered to Santa Anna, only to be massacred by that officer's orders. An unauthorized account of Crockett's life, entitled "Sketches and Eccentricities of Colonel David Crockett" (Philadelphia, 1833), drew from him a characteristic autobiography (1834), and he also published a burlesque "Life of Van Buren, Heir-Apparent to the Government" (1835); and a "Tour to the North and Down East" (New York, 1835). See, also, "Crockett's Exploits in Texas" (New York, 1848); and "Life of Colonel David Crockett," by Edward S. Ellis (Philadelphia).
--His son. John W. Crockett, born in Trenton, Tennessee; died in Memphis, Tennessee, 24 November 1852, was a member of congress in 1837-'41. He was elected by the legislature attorney general for the 9th district of Tennessee on 1 November 1841, and afterward removed to New Orleans, where, on 22 May 1848, he became associate editor of the "National."
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