Today in Texas History – August 17

From the Annals of Bad Luck –   David Crockett was born in what is now Greene County, Tennessee (technically a part of N. Carolina at the time of his birth).  Crockett’s family traversed Tennessee in a series of failed attempts to establish businesses.  Crockett himself was first employed as a drover in a cattle drive from Tennessee to Virginia and was also indentured at various times to pay off his father’s debts.  Crockett’s political career began with his appointment as a justice of the peace in 1817.  From there he sought and won office to the Tennessee state assembly in 1821 and served several terms representing different districts.  He lost in his first run for Congress in 1825, but after being encouraged to try again, he won election in 1827.  Crockett was a consistent champion for the rights of poor settlers whose property rights were endangered by a complicated system of land grants. He introduced a bill to abolish West Point which he viewed as providing free education for sons of the wealthy.   He served two terms before being voted out for his opposition to the Indian Removal Act.  He was returned to Congress 2 years later and served 2 more terms before being defeated in 1835.  Crockett arguably was the best known American of his day – especially after publishing his autobiography.

His decision to go to Texas was likely motivated by a desire to continue his political career.  Crockett was 49 and his military service had been largely limited to work as a scout and hunter finding food for the troops.  Some have speculated that he believed his fame would translate into the presidency of a newly formed Texas nation.   The details of his death at the Alamo have been hotly debated.  More on that on another Today in Texas History.

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