History is filled with larger-than-life figures, but perhaps none so large as some of the legendary men and women from the South and the Wild West. While it can be difficult for social studies teachers to explain the fairly complicated happenings in these areas over the past few centuries before they became more deeply integrated into the United States as whole, it would be a good idea to capitalize on some historical figures’ mythic statuses in order to draw attention from your students.
Of all legendary historical figures, Davy Crockett is one that many young students love to learn about. Crockett was not only an important political figure, he was also a brave adventurer, adept storyteller, ruthless fighter, and impassioned speech maker. Under the administration of Andrew Jackson, Crockett served as a member of the House of Representatives. Although originally a Jacksonian, he eventually came to scorn Jackson’s policies, especially the Indian Removal Act. In 1834, fed up with politics after a lost reelection bid, Crockett famously noted, “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.”
Crocket fought in the Texas Revolution and took part in the now infamous Battle of the Alamo. Although Crocket is now a very respected folk hero, many “tall tales” abound in the life and times of Davy Crockett. For example, the most controversial of Crockett-related stories, is the way and under what circumstances he died. While we do know that he died in the Battle of the Alamo, some stories suggest that he surrendered and was executed, while other stories suggest that he “went down swinging,” killing several Mexicans all by himself before finally being cornered.
“Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier”, a Disney movie made in 1955, is a wonderful learning tool for teachers who want to give their students an entertaining glimpse into Crockett’s life. The theme song of the movie is a good one for younger students to learn, as it includes many of the details of Crockett’s life.
History teachers could use Davy Crockett to teach some basic concepts about history as a whole. For one, Crockett was an inveterate storyteller. As such, you can use storytelling to explain to students that history is, in many ways, a lot like a chain of stories. There are many different versions, some are not accurate while some are, and accuracy often depends on dominant ideas of the time. Davy Crockett’s death story is a prime example of how legend can get mixed up with fact such that we don’t really know what happened.
This mutable version of history is best taught through people like Crockett who were half man and half legend. For more information on Crockett, check out this site that has his full biographical sketch and other teaching resources. For more information on teaching Texas history, check out this site.
This guest contribution was submitted by Pamelia Brown, who specializes in writing about associates degree. Questions and comments can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.