In this episode of History Club, Vox’s Phil Edwards asks Coleman Lowndes a question: Who was the real Davy Crockett?
Davy Crockett has 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 — who 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.
Watch the conversation above to learn more.
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- The Autobiography of Davy Crockett by David Crockett: It’s folksy, occasionally true, and free.
- David Crockett: The Man and the Legend by James Atkins Shackford: This meticulously researched biography is a precise look at the legend’s life.
- “Portraying an American Original: The Likenesses of Davy Crockett” by Frederick Voss: This essay appears in David Lofaro’s anthology of David Crockett history, but it’s a bit hard to find. You can read this neat art history essay online.