How Davy Crockett became an American legend
- Published: 07 August 2019
- Was Davy Crockett a sellout? And does it matter?
Help us make more ambitious videos by joining the Vox Video Lab. It brings you closer to our work and gets you exclusive perks, like livestream Q&As with all the Vox creators, a badge that levels up over time, and video extras bringing you closer to our work! Learn more at bit.ly/video-lab
In this episode of History Club, Vox’s Phil Edwards asks Coleman Lowndes a question: Was this American legend really as great as he was cracked up to be?
Davy Crockett’s become an American tall tale, but he was a real person and member of Congress. That’s where things get complicated. His incredible feats of bear-killing and frontier exploring intersected with a political career that was catalyzed by central banking.
When Crockett was alive, Andrew Jackson was president, and Jackson was embroiled in a battle over the Second Bank of the United States. That battle eventually resulted in the creation of a new political party — the Whigs — and the Whigs decided Crockett could help advance their cause.
In a strange way, it’s possible to trace the American icon and baby boomer fad back to this banking battle. And it says something about celebrity, politics, and how Americans imagine their history.
If you want to read more about Davy Crockett, check out:
The Autobiography of Davy Crockett by David Crockett: It’s folksy, occasionally true, and free. archive.org/details/autobiographyofd00croc
David Crockett: The Man and the Legend by James Shackford: This meticulously researched biography is a precise look at the legend’s life. amazon.com/David-Crockett-James-Atkins-Shackford/dp/0803292309
Portraying an American Original: The Likenesses of Davy Crockett by Frederick Voss: I first encountered this essay in David Lofaro’s anthology of David Crockett history, but it’s a bit hard to find online. You can read this neat art history essay online. jstor.org/stable/30240051?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out vox.com.
Watch our full video catalog: goo.gl/IZONyE
Follow Vox on Facebook: goo.gl/U2g06o
Or Twitter: goo.gl/XFrZ5H