www.koop.org Quixote’s Soldiers A Local Hisfing \(fthe Chicano Alio -ce ment, 1966-198/ .1 S’11,1 ‘,1111N 1:\\ It \\ 111,1mtv. I irr, NAP CI 111.1:1 524.95 paperback UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS PRESS/ Read more about this book online “A publication has been made to the world, which has done me much injustice,” he wrote, “and the catchpenny errors it contains have been already too long sanctioned by my silence.” Crockett was referring to Life and Adventures of Colonel David Crockett of West Tennessee, a bestselling fake autobiography by James French that had been published a year earlier. The book bothered Crockett, as well as portrayals like James Kirk Paulding’s hit 1831 play The Lion of the West, which starred the Crockett-inspired character Nimrod Wildfire, “half horse, half alligator [and] a touch of the airth-quake,” who had “the prettiest sister, fastest horse, and ugliest dog in the deestrict.” Crockett was hoping to destroy his own myth, or at least take it down a notch. The image had served him for a while: Crockett’s famous exploits as a hunter, outdoorsman and Indianfighter were the heart of the common-man story that had vaulted him into Congress \(think Joe Six-Pack of phers and Crockett’s political opponents, the Davy myth had metastasized into a grotesque caricature that threatened to wreck his career. Crockett didn’t mind a few exaggerations, but he wanted to define the parameters of the Davy myth. For Crockett, the fake autobiography was the last straw. “It was wrong; and the desire to make money by it is no apology for such an injustice to a fellow Crockett’s struggle to control his myth ended with his death, but subsequent generations have carried it on for him. man,” Crockett wrote. “But I let him pass; as my wish is greatly more to vindicate myself.” Crockett’s struggle to control his myth ended with his death, but subsequent generations have carried it on for him. Today, it isn’t Crockett’s identity that is at stakeit’s ours. This fight is over how we write our history, and what stories we tell ourselves about who we are and where we came from. AS WITH MOST LEGENDS, elements of the Davy myth were true. Crockett was a child of the Tennessee backwoods who spent much of his early life hunting, farming and exploring. He enlisted in the U.S. Army as an Indian fighter, setting off in 1814 to battle Britishtrained Creek under Andrew Jackson and alongside Sam Houston during the Creek Civil War. “We shot them like dogs,” Crockett recalled. He contracted malaria during an expedition into Alabama and was assumed dead. When he returned home, miraculously “resurrected” to a family already in mourning, he appeared larger than life. “I know’d this was a whopper of a lie,” Crockett is reported to have said about accounts of his death, “as soon as I heard it.” Crockett parlayed his military career into a political one, going to Congress from Tennessee in 1827. Three years earlier, he had publicly repudiated his mentor and onetime hero, now-President JULY 23, 2010 Andrew Jackson, over Indian Removal and squatter’s rights policies. “I am at liberty to vote as my conscience and judgement dictates to be right, without the yoke of any party on me,” he wrote in the closing pages of his autobiography. “Look at my arms, you will find no party hand-cuff on them! Look at my neck, you will not find there any collar, with the engraving “My Dog Andrew Jackson.”‘ Though Crockett spent some of his early years slaughtering Native Americans, he took a moral stand against the Jackson administration’s removal policy, which resulted in the infamous Trail of Tears. “It would seem that the sufferings of a hungering people excites no pity with our President,” Crockett wrote in a February 1831 campaign circular, “and that all the miseries of famine, brought on by his own acts, are to be used as the instruments for their extermination or removal.” READ Crockett’s autobiography at txlo.com/crockett
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