Recorded history may be more awash with opinion than fact. Of course, movies and TV shows are designed to exaggerate and embellish stories for entertainment purposes, but an honest man’s own account will bear up against the cross examination of opinion. I found “A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett” to be an interesting and well told story. It is written in the language of the common back- woodsman in 1835 and doesn’t contain any contrived accents as used so prolifically by Mark Twain. I believe a twelve year old would enjoy it as much as an adult. It’s not a complete history which would include Mr. Crockett’s travels to Texas and heroic demise at the Alamo, but it reveals his character and convictions as no third party could.
When I first began my inquiry into Mr. Crockett’s life, I had one predominate thought, “Was he a man of character and faith?” These are private matters that are deep within a man, but of the utmost importance. Not every hero is so bold as Sargent Alvin York, who shared his faith openly and with great conviction. Still, the nation was young and the second great revival was at its peak, but the western frontier of Tennessee was still a vast wilderness occupied sparsely by settlers in western expansion. Moreover, Crockett’s life was hard, beginning in early childhood, such that he had very little schooling where Biblical history and Judeo-Christian principles were introduced. However, more than once he states that he trusted himself to “Providence”, which reveals some grounding in faith. Also, he expresses a well formed concept of duty, responsibility, and mercy toward others. He explains this as being the product of humble beginnings and it shaped his life through both struggles and good fortune which he attributed to God’s mercy.
His narrative articulates a consistent profession of the virtue of honesty and uprightness. For example, his grandparents were massacred by Indians, whom he later fought in war, but also befriended on occasion and supported politically, to the detriment of his political career and reputation. His favorite quote which he wished to be remembered was, “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.” His political instincts were outstanding, but he embarked on politics in reply to a practical joke. He preferred to conduct his own enterprises, including subsistence in the backcountry, but circumstances beyond his control turned him back to government service more than once. He was careful in his campaigning, but exercised great courage to promote the public interest rather than his own or others political ambitions. This is a demonstration of character that is near and dear to my heart and my own personal experience.
After reading his story, I saw a man who endured adversity without becoming a victim or filled with bitterness. Here was a man who stood for conviction, virtue, and duty, but accepted others as they were. He is an example of a politician that is desperately needed today, sincere and courageous in the face of schemes and contrivance against the will of the people. To the extent that the saying is true, “Actions speak louder than words”, Mr. Crockett’s life sounds a clear call to embrace humility and commit to honesty.