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gloomy ravine, damp and cold, and thrown into shade by the thick foliage of the overhanging trees. So far as he knew, no human habitation was near. Night was approaching. He could go no farther. He had no food; but he did not need any, for a deathly nausea oppressed him. Utterly exhausted, he threw himself down upon the grass and withered leaves, on a small dry mound formed by the roots of a large tree.

Crockett had no wish to die. He clung very tenaciously to life, and yet he was very apprehensive that then and there he was to linger through a few hours of pain, and then die, leaving his unburied body to be devoured by wild beasts, and his friends probably forever ignorant of his fate. Consumed by fever, and agitated by these painful thoughts, he remained for an hour or two, when he heard the sound of approaching footsteps and of human voices. His sensibilities were so stupefied by his sickness that these sounds excited but little emotion.

Soon three or four Indians made their appearance walking along the narrow trail in single file. They saw the prostrate form of the poor, sick white man, and immediately gathered around him. The rifle of Crockett, and the powder and bullets which be had, were, to these Indians, articles of almost inestimable value. One blow of the tomahawk would send the helpless man to realms where rifles and ammunition were no longer needed, and his priceless treasures would fall into their hands. Indeed, it was not necessary even to strike that blow. They had but to pick up the rifle, and unbuckle the belt which contained the powder-horn and bullet-pouch, and leave the dying man to his fate.

But these savages, who had never read our Saviour’s beautiful parable of the good Samaritan, acted the Samaritan’s part to the white man whom they found in utter helplessness and destitution. They kneeled around him, trying to minister to his wants. One of them had a watermelon. He cut from it a slice of the rich and juicy fruit, and entreated him to eat it. But his stomach rejected even that delicate food.

They then, by very expressive signs, told him that if he did not take some nourishment he would die and be buried there–“a thing,” Crockett writes, “I was confoundedly afraid of, myself.” Crockett inquired how far it was to any house. They signified to him, by signs, that there was a white man’s cabin about a mile and a half from where they then were, and urged him to let them conduct him to that house. He rose to make the attempt. But he was so weak that he could with difficulty stand, and unsupported could not walk a step.

One of these kind Indians offered to go with him; and relieving Crockett of the burden of his rifle, and with his strong arm supporting and half carrying him, at length succeeded in getting him to the log hut of the pioneer. The shades of night were falling. The sick man was so far gone that it seemed to him that he could scarcely move another step. A woman came to the door of the lowly hut and received them with a woman’s sympathy. There was a cheerful fire blazing in one corner, giving quite a pleasing aspect to the room. In another corner there was a rude bed, with bed-clothing of the skins of animals. Crockett’s benefactor laid him tenderly upon the bed, and leaving him in the charge of his countrywoman, bade him adieu, and hastened away to overtake his companions.

What a different world would this be from what it has been, did the spirit of kindness, manifested by this poor Indian, universally animate human hearts!

“O brother man! fold to thy heart thy brother: Where pity dwells the peace of God is there; To worship rightly is to love each other, Each smile a hymn, each kindly word a prayer.”

The woman’s husband was, at the time, absent. But she carefully nursed her patient, preparing for him some soothing herb-tea. Delirium came, and for several hours, Crockett, in a state of unconsciousness, dwelt in the land of troubled dreams. The next morning he was a little more comfortable, but still in a high fever, and often delirious.

It so happened that two white men, on an exploring tour, as they passed along the trail, met the Indians, who informed them that one of their sick countrymen was at a settler’s cabin at but a few miles’ distance. With humanity characteristic of a new and sparsely settled country they turned aside to visit him. They proved to be old acquaintances of Crockett. He was so very anxious to get back to the camp where he had left his companions, and who, knowing nothing of his fate, must think it very strange that he had thus deserted them, that they, very reluctantly, in view of his dangerous condition, consented to help him on his way.

They made as comfortable a seat as they could, of blankets and skins, which they buckled on the neck of one of the horses just before the saddle. Upon this Crockett was seated. One of the men then mounted the saddle behind him, threw both arms around the patient, and thus they commenced their journey. The sagacious horse was left to pick out his own way along the narrow trail at a slow foot-pace. As the horse thus bore a double burden, after journeying an hour or two, Crockett’s seat was changed to the other horse. Thus alternating, the painful journey of nearly fifty miles was accomplished in about two days.

When they reached the camp, Crockett, as was to have been expected, was in a far worse condition than when they commenced the journey. It was evident that he was to pass through a long run of fever, and that his recovery was very doubtful. His companions could not thus be delayed. They had already left Frazier, one of their company, perhaps to die of the bite of a venomous snake; and now they were constrained to leave Crockett, perhaps to die of malarial fever.

They ascertained that, at the distance of a few miles from them, there was another log cabin in the wilderness. They succeeded in purchasing a couple of horses, and in transporting the sick man to this humble house of refuge. Here Crockett was left to await the result of his sickness, unaided by any medical skill. Fortunately he fell into the hands of a family who treated him with the utmost kindness. For a fortnight he was in delirium, and knew nothing of what was transpiring around him.

Crockett was a very amiable man. Even the delirium of disease developed itself in kindly words and grateful feelings. He always won the love of those around him. He did not miss delicacies and luxuries of which he had never known anything. Coarse as he was when measured by the standard of a higher civilization, he was not coarse at all in the estimation of the society in the midst of which he moved. In this humble cabin of Jesse Jones, with all its aspect of penury, Crockett was nursed with brotherly and sisterly kindness, and had every alleviation in his sickness which his nature craved.

The visitor to Versailles is shown the magnificent apartment, and the regal couch, with its gorgeous hangings, upon which Louis XIV., the proudest and most pampered man on earth, languished and died. Crockett, on his pallet in the log cabin, with unglazed window and earthern floor, was a far less unhappy man, than the dying monarch surrounded with regal splendors.

At the end of a fortnight the patient began slowly to mend. His emaciation was extreme, and his recovery very gradual. After a few weeks he was able to travel. He was then on a route where wagons passed over a rough road, teaming the articles needed in a new country. Crockett hired a wagoner to give him a seat in his wagon and to convey him to the wagoner’s house, which was about twenty miles distant. Gaining strength by the way, when he arrived there he hired a horse of the wagoner, and set out for home.

Great was the astonishment of his family upon his arrival, for they had given him up as dead. The neighbors who set out on this journey with him had returned and so reported; for they had been misinformed. They told Mrs. Crockett that they had seen those who were with him when he died, and had assisted in burying him.

Still the love of change had not been dispelled from the bosom of Crockett. He did not like the place where he resided. After spending a few months at home, he set out, in the autumn, upon another exploring tour. Our National Government had recently purchased, of the Chickasaw Indians, a large extent of territory in Southern Tennessee. Crockett thought that in those new lands he would find the earthly paradise of which he was in search. The region was unsurveyed, a savage wilderness, and there were no recognized laws and no organized government there.

Crockett mounted his horse, lashed his rifle to his back, filled his powder-horn and bullet-pouch, and journeying westward nearly a hundred miles, through pathless wilds whose solitudes had a peculiar charm for him, came to a romantic spot, called Shoal Creek, in what is now Giles County, in the extreme southern part of Tennessee. He found other adventurers pressing into the new country, where land was abundant and fertile, and could be had almost for nothing.

Log cabins were rising in all directions, in what they deemed quite near neighborhood, for they were not separated more than a mile or two from each other. Crockett, having selected his location on the banks of a crystal stream, summoned, as was the custom, some neighbors to his aid, and speedily constructed the cabin, of one apartment, to shield his family from the wind and the rain. Moving with such a family is not a very arduous undertaking. One or two pack-horses convey all the household utensils. There are no mirrors, bedsteads, bureaus, or chairs to be transported. With an auger and a hatchet, these articles are soon constructed in their new home. The wife, with the youngest child, rides. The husband, with his rifle upon his shoulder, and followed by the rest of the children, trudges along on foot.

Should night or storm overtake them, an hour’s work would throw up a camp, with a cheerful fire in front, affording them about the same cohorts which they enjoyed in the home they had left. A little meal, baked in the ashes, supplied them with bread. And during the journey of the day the rifle of the father would be pretty sure to pick up some game to add to the evening repast.

Crockett and his family reached their new home in safety. Here quite a new sphere of life opened before the adventurer, and he became so firmly settled that he remained in that location for three years. In the mean time, pioneers from all parts were rapidly rearing their cabins upon the fertile territory, which was then called The New Purchase.


The Justice of Peace and the Legislator.

Vagabondage.–Measures of Protection.–Measures of Government.–Crockett’s Confession.–A Candidate for Military Honors.–Curious Display of Moral Courage.–The Squirrel Hunt.–A Candidate for the Legislature.–Characteristic Electioneering.–Specimens of his Eloquence.–Great Pecuniary Calamity.–Expedition to the Far West.–Wild Adventures.–The Midnight Carouse.–A Cabin Reared.

The wealthy and the prosperous are not disposed to leave the comforts of a high civilization for the hardships of the wilderness. Most of the pioneers who crowded to the New Purchase were either energetic young men who had their fortunes to make, or families who by misfortune had encountered impoverishment. But there was still another class. There were the vile, the unprincipled, the desperate; vagabonds seeking whom they might devour; criminals escaping the penalty of the laws which they had violated.

These were the men who shot down an Indian at sight, as they would shoot a wolf; merely for the fun of it; who robbed the Indian of his gun and game, burned his wigwam, and atrociously insulted his wife and daughters. These were the men whom no law could restrain; who brought disgrace upon the name of a white man, and who often provoked the ignorant savage to the most dreadful and indiscriminate retaliation.

So many of these infamous men flocked to this New Purchase that life there became quite undesirable. There were no legally appointed officers of justice, no organized laws. Every man did what was pleasing in his own sight. There was no collecting of debts, no redress for violence, no punishment for cheating or theft.

Under these circumstances, there was a general gathering of the well-disposed inhabitants of the cabins scattered around, to adopt some measures for their mutual protection. Several men were appointed justices of peace, with a set of resolute young men, as constables, to execute their commissions. These justices were invested with almost dictatorial power. They did not pretend to know anything about written law or common law. They were merely men of good sound sense, who could judge as to what was right in all ordinary intercourse between man and man.

A complaint would be entered to Crockett that one man owed another money and refused to pay him. Crockett would send his constables to arrest the man, and bring him to his cabin. After hearing both parties, if Crockett judged the debt to be justly due, and that it could be paid, he would order the man’s horse, cow, rifle, or any other property he owned, to be seized and sold, and the debt to be paid. If the man made any resistance he would be very sure to have his cabin burned down over his head; and he would be very lucky if he escaped a bullet through his own body.

One of the most common and annoying crimes committed by these desperadoes was shooting an emigrant’s swine. These animals, regarded as so invaluable in a new country, each had its owner’s mark, and ranged the woods, fattening upon acorns and other nuts. Nothing was easier than for a lazy man to wander into the woods, shoot one of these animals, take it to his cabin, devour it there, and obliterate all possible traces of the deed. Thus a large and valuable herd would gradually disappear. This crime was consequently deemed to merit the most severe punishment. It was regarded as so disgraceful that no respectable man was liable to suspicion.

The punishment for the crime was very severe, and very summary. If one of these swine-thieves was brought before Justice Crockett, and in his judgment the charge was proved against him, the sentence was–

“Take the thief, strip off his shirt, tie him to a tree, and give him a severe flogging. Then burn down his cabin, and drive him out of the country.”

There was no appeal from this verdict, and no evading its execution. Such was the justice which prevailed, in this remote region, until the Legislature of Alabama annexed the territory to Giles County, and brought the region under the dominion of organized law. Crockett, who had performed his functions to the entire satisfaction of the community, then was legally appointed a justice of peace, and became fully entitled to the appellation of esquire. He certainly could not then pretend to any profound legal erudition, for at this time he could neither read nor write.

Esquire Crockett, commenting upon this transaction, says, “I was made a Squire, according to law; though now the honor rested more heavily upon me than before. For, at first, whenever I told my constable, says I, ‘Catch that fellow, and bring him up for trial,’ away he went, and the fellow must come, dead or alive. For we considered this a good warrant, though it was only in verbal writing.

“But after I was appointed by the Assembly, they told me that my warrants must be in real writing and signed; and that I must keep a book and write my proceedings in it. This was a hard business on me, for I could just barely write my own name. But to do this, and write the warrants too, was at least a huckleberry over my persimmon. I had a pretty well informed constable, however, and he aided me very much in this business. Indeed, I told him, when he should happen to be out anywhere, and see that a warrant was necessary, and would have a good effect, he needn’t take the trouble to come all the way to me to get one, but he could just fill out one; and then, on the trial, I could correct the whole business if he had committed any error.

“In this way I got on pretty well, till, by care and attention, I improved my handwriting in such a manner as to be able to prepare my warrants and keep my record-books without much difficulty. My judgments were never appealed from; and if they had been, they would have stuck like wax, as I gave my decisions on the principles of common justice and honesty between man and man, and relied on natural-born sense, and not on law-learning, to guide me; for I had never read a page in a law-book in all my life.”

Esquire Crockett was now a rising man. He was by no means diffident. With strong native sense, imperturbable self-confidence, a memory almost miraculously stored with rude anecdotes, and an astonishing command of colloquial and slang language, he was never embarrassed, and never at a loss as to what to say or to do.

They were about getting up a new regiment of militia there, and a Captain Mathews, an ambitious, well-to-do settler, with cribs full of corn, was a candidate for the colonelship. He came to Crockett to insure his support, and endeavored to animate him to more cordial cooperation by promising to do what he could to have him elected major of the regiment. Esquire Crockett at first declined, saying that he was thoroughly disgusted with all military operations, and that he had no desire for any such honors. But as Captain Mathews urged the question, and Crockett reflected that the office would give him some additional respect and influence with his neighbors, and that Major Crockett was a very pleasantly sounding title, he finally consented, and, of course, very soon became deeply interested in the enterprise.

Captain Mathews, as an electioneering measure, invited all his neighbors, far and near, to a very magnificent corn-husking frolic. There was to be a great treat on the occasion, and “all the world,” as the French say, were eager to be there. Crockett and his family were of course among the invited guests. When Crockett got there he found an immense gathering, all in high glee, and was informed, much to his surprise and chagrin, that Captain Mathews’s son had offered himself for the office of major, in opposition to Crockett.

The once had, in reality, but few charms for Crockett, and he did not care much for it. But this unworthy treatment roused his indignation. He was by nature one of the most frank and open-hearted of men, and never attempted to do anything by guile. Immediately he called Captain Mathews aside, and inquired what this all meant. The Captain was much embarrassed, and made many lame excuses, saying that he would rather his son would run against any man in the county than against Squire Crockett.

“You need give yourself no uneasiness about that,” Crockett replied. “I care nothing for the office of major; I shall not allow my name to be used against your son for that office. But I shall do everything in my power to prevent his father from being colonel.”

In accordance with the custom of the region and the times, after the feasting and the frolicking, Captain Mathews mounted a stump, and addressed the assembly in what was appropriately called a stump speech, advocating his election.

The moment he closed, Squire Crockett mounted the stump, and on the Captain’s own grounds, addressing the Captain’s guests, and himself one of those guests, totally unabashed, made his first stump speech. He was at no loss for words or ideas. He was full to the brim of fun. He could, without any effort, keep the whole assembly in roars of laughter. And there, in the presence of Captain Mathews and his family, he argued his total unfitness to be the commander of a regiment.

It is to be regretted that there was no reporter present to transmit to us that speech. It must have been a peculiar performance. It certainly added much to Crockett’s reputation as an able man and an orator. When the election came, both father and son were badly beaten. Soon after, a committee waited upon Crockett, soliciting him to stand as candidate for the State Legislature, to represent the two counties of Lawrence and Hickman.

Crockett was beginning to be ambitious. He consented. But he had already engaged to take a drove of horses from Central Tennessee to the lower part of North Carolina. This was a long journey, and going and coming would take three months. He set out early in March, 1821. Upon his return in June, he commenced with all zeal his electioneering campaign. Characteristically he says:

“It was a bran-fire new business to me. It now became necessary that I should tell the people something about the Government, and an eternal sight of other things that I know’d nothing more about than I did about Latin, and law, and such things as that. I have said before, that in those days none of us called General Jackson the Government. But I know’d so little about it that if any one had told me that he was the Government, I should have believed it; for I had never read even a newspaper in my life, or anything else on the subject.”

Lawrence County bounded Giles County on the west. Just north of Lawrence came Hickman County. Crockett first directed his steps to Hickman County, to engage in his “bran-fire” new work of electioneering for himself as a candidate for the Legislature. What ensued cannot be more graphically told than in Crockett’s own language:

“Here they told me that they wanted to move their town nearer to the centre of the county, and I must come out in favor of it. There’s no devil if I know’d what this meant, or how the town was to be moved. And so I kept dark, going on the identical same plan that I now find is called non-committal.

“About this time there was a great squirrel-hunt, on Duck River, which was among my people. They were to hunt two days; then to meet and count the scalps, and have a big barbecue, and what might be called a tip-top country frolic. The dinners and a general treat was all to be paid for by the party having taken the fewest scalps. I joined one side, and got a gun ready for the hunt. I killed a great many squirrels, and when we counted scalps my party was victorious.

“The company had everything to eat and drink that could be furnished in a new country; and much fun and good humor prevailed. But before the regular frolic commenced, I was called on to make a speech as a candidate, which was a business I was as ignorant of as an outlandish negro.

“A public document I had never seen. How to begin I couldn’t tell. I made many apologies, and tried to get off, for I know’d I had a man to run against who could speak prime. And I know’d, too that I wasn’t able to cut and thrust with him. He was there, and knowing my ignorance as well as I did myself, he urged me to make a speech. The truth is, he thought my being a candidate was a mere matter of sport, and didn’t think for a moment that he was in any danger from an ignorant back woods bear-hunter.

“But I found I couldn’t get off. So I determined to go ahead, and leave it to chance what I should say. I got up and told the people I reckoned they know’d what I had come for; but if not, I could tell them. I had come for their votes, and if they didn’t watch mighty close I’d get them too. But the worst of all was, that I could not tell them anything about Government. I tried to speak about something, and I cared very little what, until I choked up as bad as if my mouth had been jamm’d and cramm’d chock-full of dry mush. There the people stood, listening all the while, with their eyes, mouths, and ears all open to catch every word I could speak.

“At last I told them I was like a fellow I had heard of not long before. He was beating on the head of an empty barrel on the roadside, when a traveller, who was passing along, asked him what he was doing that for? The fellow replied that there was some cider in that barrel a few days before, and he was trying to see if there was any then; but if there was, he couldn’t get at it. I told them that there had been a little bit of a speech in me a while ago, but I believed I couldn’t get it out.

“They all roared out in a mighty laugh, and I told some other anecdotes, equally amusing to them, and believing I had them in a first-rate way, I quit and got down, thanking the people for their attention. But I took care to remark that I was as dry as a powder-horn, and that I thought that it was time for us all to wet our whistles a little. And so I put off to a liquor-stand, and was followed by the greater part of the crowd.

“I felt certain this was necessary, for I know’d my competitor could talk Government matters to them as easy as he pleased. He had, however, mighty few left to hear him, as I continued with the crowd, now and then taking a horn, and telling good-humored stories till he was done speaking. I found I was good for the votes at the hunt; and when we broke up I went on to the town of Vernon, which was the same they wanted me to move. Here they pressed me again on the subject. I found I could get either party by agreeing with them. But I told them I didn’t know whether it would be right or not, and so couldn’t promise either way.”

This famous barbecue was on Saturday. The next Monday the county court held its session at Vernon. There was a great gathering of the pioneers from all parts of the county. The candidates for the Governor of the State, for a representative in Congress, and for the State Legislature, were all present. Some of these men were of considerable ability, and certainly of very fluent speech. The backwoodsmen, from their huts, where there were no books, no newspapers, no intelligent companionship, found this a rich intellectual treat. Their minds were greatly excited as they listened to the impassioned and glowing utterances of speaker after speaker; for many of these stump orators had command of a rude but very effective eloquence.

Crockett listened also, with increasing anxiety. He knew that his turn was to come; that he must mount the stump and address the listening throng. He perceived that he could not speak as these men were speaking; and perhaps for the first time in his life began to experience some sense of inferiority. He writes:

“The thought of having to make a speech made my knees feel mighty weak, and set my heart to fluttering almost as bad as my first love-scrape with the Quaker’s niece. But as good luck would have it, these big candidates spoke nearly all day, and when they quit the people were worn out with fatigue, which afforded me a good apology for not discussing the Government. But I listened mighty close to them, and was learning pretty fast about political matters. When they were all done, I got up and told some laughable story, and quit. I found I was safe in those parts; and so I went home, and did not go back again till after the election was over. But to cut this matter short, I was elected, doubling my competitor, and nine votes over.

“A short time after this, I was at Pulaski, where I met with Colonel Polk, now a member of Congress from Tennessee. He was at that time a member elected to the Legislature, as well as myself. In a large company he said to me, ‘Well, Colonel, I suppose we shall have a radical change of the judiciary at the next session of the Legislature.’ ‘Very likely, sir,’ says I. And I put out quicker, for I was afraid some one would ask me what the judiciary was; and if I know’d I wish I may be shot. I don’t indeed believe I had ever before heard that there was any such thing in all nature. But still I was not willing that the people there should know how ignorant I was about it.”

At length the day arrived for the meeting of the Legislature. Crockett repaired to the seat of government. With all his self-complacency he began to appreciate that he had much to learn. The two first items of intelligence which he deemed it important that he, as a member of the Legislature, should acquire, were the meaning of the words government and judiciary. By adroit questioning and fixed thought, he ere long stored up those intellectual treasures. Though with but little capacity to obtain knowledge from books, he became an earnest student of the ideas of his fellow-legislators as elicited in conversation or debate. Quite a heavy disaster, just at this time, came upon Crockett. We must again quote his own words, for it is our wish, in this volume, to give the reader a correct idea of the man. Whatever Crockett says, ever comes fresh from his heart. He writes:

“About this time I met with a very severe misfortune, which I may be pardoned for naming, as it made a great change in my circumstances, and kept me back very much in the world. I had built an extensive grist-mill and powder-mill, all connected together, and also a large distillery. They had cost me upward of three thousand dollars; more than I was worth in the world. The first news that I heard, after I got to the Legislature, was that my mills were all swept to smash by a large freshet that came soon after I left home.

“I had, of course, to stop my distillery, as my grinding was broken up. And indeed I may say that the misfortune just made a complete mash of me. I had some likely negroes, and a good stock of almost everything about me, and, best of all, I had an honest wife. She didn’t advise me, as is too fashionable, to smuggle up this, and that, and t’other, to go on at home. But she told me, says she, ‘Just pay up as long as you have a bit’s worth in the world; and then everybody will be satisfied, and we will scuffle for more.’

“This was just such talk as I wanted to hear, for a man’s wife can hold him devilish uneasy if she begins to scold and fret, and perplex him, at a time when he has a full load for a railroad car on his mind already. And so, you see, I determined not to break full-handed, but thought it better to keep a good conscience with an empty purse, than to get a bad opinion of myself with a full one. I therefore gave up all I had, and took a bran-fire new start.”

Crockett’s legislative career was by no means brilliant, but characteristic. He was the fun-maker of the house, and, like Falstaff, could boast that he was not only witty himself, but the cause of wit in others. His stories were irresistibly comic; but they almost always contained expressions of profanity or coarseness which renders it impossible for us to transmit them to these pages. He was an inimitable mimic, and had perfect command of a Dutchman’s brogue. One of the least objectionable of his humorous stories we will venture to record.

There were, he said, in Virginia, two Dutchmen, brothers, George and Jake Fulwiler. They were both well to do in the world, and each owned a grist mill. There was another Dutchman near by, by the name of Henry Snyder. He was a mono-maniac, but a harmless man, occasionally thinking himself to be God. He built a throne, and would often sit upon it, pronouncing judgment upon others, and also upon himself. He would send the culprits to heaven or to hell, as his humor prompted.

One day he had a little difficulty with the two Fulwilers. He took his seat upon his throne, and in imagination summoning the culprits before him, thus addressed them:

“Shorge Fulwiler, stand up. What hash you been dain in dis lower world?”

“Ah! Lort, ich does not know.”

“Well, Shorge Fulwiler, hasn’t you got a mill?”

“Yes, Lort, ich hash.”

“Well, Shorge Fulwiler, didn’t you never take too much toll?”

“Yes, Lort, ich hash; when der water wash low, and mein stones wash dull, ich take leetle too much toll.”

“Well, den, Shorge Fulwiler, you must go to der left mid der goats.”

“Well, Shake Fulwiler, now you stand up. What hash you been doin in dis lower world?”

“Ah! Lort, ich does not know.”

“Well, Shake Fulwiler, hasn’t you got a mill?”

“Yes, Lort, ich hash.”

“Well, Shake Fulwiler hasn’t you never taken too much toll?”

“Yes Lort, ich hash; when der water wash low, and mein stones wash dull, ich take leetle too much toll.”

“Well, den, Shake Fuhviler, you must go to der left mid der goats.”

“Now ich try menself. Henry Snyder, Henry Snyder, stand up. What hash you bin dain in die lower world?”

“Ah, Lort, ich does not know.”

“Well, Henry Snyder, hasn’t you got a mill?”

“Yes, Lort, ich hash.”

“Well, Henry Snyder, didn’t you never take too much toll?”

“Yes, Lort, ich hash; when der water wash low, and mein stones wash dull, ich hash taken leetle too much toll.”

“But, Henry Snyder, vat did you do mid der toll?”

“Ah, Lort, ich gives it to der poor.”

The judge paused for a moment, and then said, “Well, Henry Snyder, you must go to der right mid der sheep. But it is a tight squeeze.”

Another specimen of his more sober forensic eloquence is to be found in the following speech. There was a bill before the house for the creation of a new county, and there was a dispute about the boundary-line. The author of the bill wished to run the line in a direction which would manifestly promote his own interest. Crockett arose and said:

“Mr. Speaker: Do you know what that man’s bill reminds me of? Well, I s’pose you don’t, so I’ll tell you. Well, Mr. Speaker, when I first came to this country a blacksmith was a rare thing. But there happened to be one in my neighborhood. He had no striker; and whenever one of the neighbors wanted any work done, he had to go over and strike until his work was finished. These were hard times, Mr. Speaker, but we had to do the best we could,

“It happened that one of my neighbors wanted an axe. So he took along with him a piece of iron, and went over to the blacksmith’s to strike till his axe was done. The iron was heated, and my neighbor fell to work, and was striking there nearly all day; when the blacksmith concluded that the iron wouldn’t make an axe, but ‘twould make a fine mattock.

“So my neighbor, wanting a mattock, concluded that he would go over and strike till the mattock was done. Accordingly he went over the next day, and worked faithfully. But toward night the blacksmith concluded his iron wouldn’t make a mattock but ‘twould make a fine ploughshare.

“So my neighbor, wanting a ploughshare, agreed that he would go over the next day and strike till that was done. Accordingly he went over, and fell hard at work. But toward night the blacksmith concluded his iron wouldn’t make a ploughshare, but ‘twould make a fine skow. So my neighbor, tired of working, cried, ‘A skow let it be;’ and the blacksmith, taking up the red-hot iron, threw it into a trough of hot water near him, and as it fell in, it sung out skow. And this, Mr. Speaker, will be the way of that man’s bill for a county. He’ll keep you all here, doing nothing, and finally his bill will turn up a skow; now mind if it don’t.”

At this time, Crockett, by way of courtesy, was usually called colonel, as with us almost every respectable man takes the title of esquire. One of the members offended Colonel Crockett by speaking disrespectfully of him as from the back woods, or, as he expressed it, the gentleman from the cane. Crockett made a very bungling answer, which did not satisfy himself. After the house adjourned, he very pleasantly invited the gentleman to take a walk with him. They chatted very sociably by the way, till, at the distance of about a mile, they reached a very secluded spot, when the Colonel, turning to his opponent, said:

“Do you know what I brought you here for?”

“No,” was the reply.

“Well,” added the Colonel, “I brought you here for the express purpose of whipping you; and now I mean to do it.”

“But,” says the Colonel, in recording the event, “the fellow said he didn’t mean anything, and kept ‘pologizing till I got into good humor.”

They walked back as good friends as ever, and no one but themselves knew of the affair.

After the adjournment of the Legislature, Crockett returned to his impoverished home. The pecuniary losses he had encountered, induced him to make another move, and one for which it is difficult to conceive of any adequate motive. He took his eldest son, a boy about eight years of age, and a young man by the name of Abram Henry, and with one pack-horse to carry their blankets and provisions, plunged into the vast wilderness west of them, on an exploring tour, in search of a new home.

Crockett and the young man shouldered their rifles. Day after day the three trudged along, fording streams, clambering hills, wading morasses, and threading ravines, each night constructing a frail shelter, and cooking by their camp-fire such game as they had taken by the way.

After traversing these almost pathless wilds a hundred and fifty miles, and having advanced nearly fifty miles beyond any white settlement, they reached the banks of a lonely stream, called Obion River, on the extreme western frontier of Tennessee. This river emptied into the Mississippi but a few miles from the spot where Crockett decided to rear his cabin. His nearest neighbor was seven miles distant, his next fifteen, his next twenty.

About ten years before, that whole region had been convulsed by one of the most terrible earthquakes recorded in history. One or two awful hurricanes had followed the earthquake, prostrating the gigantic forest, and scattering the trees in all directions. Appalling indications remained of the power expended by these tremendous forces of nature. The largest forest-trees were found split from their roots to their tops, and lying half on each side of a deep fissure. The opening abysses, the entanglement of the prostrate forest, and the dense underbrush which had sprung up, rendered the whole region almost impenetrable. The country was almost entirely uninhabited. It had, however, become quite celebrated as being the best hunting-ground in the West. The fear of earthquakes and the general desolation had prevented even the Indians from rearing their wigwams there. Consequently wild animals had greatly increased. The country was filled with bears, wolves, panthers, deer, elks, and other smaller game.

The Indians had recently made this discovery, and were, in ever-increasing numbers, exploring the regions in hunting-bands. Crockett does not seem to have had much appreciation of the beautiful. In selecting a spot for his hut, he wished to be near some crystal stream where he could get water, and to build his hut upon land sufficiently high to be above the reach of freshets. It was also desirable to find a small plain or meadow free from trees, where he could plant his corn; and to be in the edge of the forest, which would supply him with abundance of fuel. Crockett found such a place, exactly to his mind. Being very fond of hunting, he was the happiest of men. A few hours’ labor threw up a rude hut which was all the home he desired. His rifle furnished him with food, and with the skins of animals for bed and bedding. Every frontiersman knew how to dress the skin of deer for moccasins and other garments. With a sharpened stick he punched holes through the rank sod, and planted corn, in soil so rich that it would return him several hundred-fold.

Thus his tastes, such as they were, were gratified, and he enjoyed what to him were life’s luxuries. He probably would not have been willing to exchange places with the resident in the most costly mansion in our great cities. In a few days he got everything comfortable around him. Crockett’s cabin, or rather camp, was on the eastern side of the Obion River. Seven miles farther up the stream, on the western bank, a Mr. Owen had reared his log house. One morning, Crockett, taking the young man Henry and his son with him, set out to visit Mr. Owen, his nearest neighbor. He hobbled his horse, leaving him to graze until he got back.

They followed along the banks of the river, through the forest, until they reached a point nearly opposite Owen’s cabin. By crossing the stream there, and following up the western bank they would be sure to find his hut. There was no boat, and the stream must be swum or forded. Recent rains had caused it to overflow its banks and spread widely over the marshy bottoms and low country near by. The water was icy cold. And yet they took to it, says Crockett, “like so many beavers.”

The expanse to be crossed was very wide, and they knew not how deep they should find the channel. For some distance the water continued quite shoal. Gradually it deepened. Crockett led the way, with a pole in his hand. Cautiously he sounded the depth before him, lest they should fall into any slough. A dense growth of young trees covered the inundated bottom over which they were wading. Occasionally they came to a deep but narrow gully. Crockett, with his hatchet, would cut down a small tree, and by its aid would cross.

At length the water became so deep that Crockett’s little boy had to swim, though they evidently had not yet reached the channel of the stream. Having waded nearly half a mile, they came to the channel. The stream, within its natural banks, was but about forty feet wide. Large forest-trees fringed the shores. One immense tree, blown down by the wind, reached about halfway across. Crockett, with very arduous labor with his hatchet, cut down another, so that it fell with the branches of the two intertwining.

Thus aided they reached the opposite side. But still the lowlands beyond were overflowed as far as the eye could see through the dense forest. On they waded, for nearly a mile, when, to their great joy, they came in sight of dry land. Their garments were dripping and they were severely chilled as they reached the shore. But turning their steps up the stream, they soon came in sight of the cabin, which looked to them like a paradise of rest. It was one of the rudest of huts. The fenceless grounds around were rough and ungainly. The dismal forest, which chanced there to have escaped both earthquake and hurricane, spread apparently without limits in all directions.

Most men, most women, gazing upon a scene so wild, lonely, cheerless, would have said, “Let me sink into the grave rather than be doomed to such a home as that.” But to Crockett and his companions it presented all the attractions their hearts could desire. Mr. Owen and several other men were just starting away from the cabin, when, to their surprise, they saw the party of strangers approaching. They waited until Crockett came up and introduced himself. The men with Mr. Owen were boatmen, who had entered the Obion River from the Mississippi with a boat-load of articles for trade. They were just leaving to continue their voyage.

Such men are seldom in a hurry. Time is to them of but very little value. Hospitality was a virtue which cost nothing. Any stranger, with his rifle, could easily pay his way in the procurement of food. They all turned back and entered the cabin together. Mrs. Owen was an excellent, motherly woman, about fifty years of age. Her sympathies were immediately excited for the poor little boy, whose garments were drenched, and who was shivering as if in an ague-fit. She replenished the fire, dried his clothes, and gave him some warm and nourishing food. The grateful father writes:

“Her kindness to my little boy did me ten times as much good as anything she could have done for me, if she had tried her best.”

These were not the days of temperance. The whiskey-bottle was considered one of the indispensables of every log cabin which made any pretences to gentility. The boat, moored near the shore, was loaded with whiskey, flour, sugar, hardware, and other articles, valuable in the Indian trade in the purchase of furs, and in great demand in the huts of pioneers. There was a small trading-post at what was called McLemone’s Bluff; about thirty miles farther up the river by land, and nearly one hundred in following the windings of the stream. This point the boatmen were endeavoring to reach.

For landing their cargo at this point the boatmen were to receive five hundred dollars, besides the profits of any articles they could sell in the scattered hamlets they might encounter by the way. The whiskey-bottle was of course brought out. Crockett drank deeply; he says, at least half a pint. His tongue was unloosed, and he became one of the most voluble and entertaining of men. His clothes having been dried by the fire, and all having with boisterous merriment partaken of a hearty supper, as night came on the little boy was left to the tender care of Mrs. Owen, while the rest of the party repaired to the cabin of the boat, to make a night of it in drinking and carousal.

They had indeed a wild time. There was whiskey in abundance. Crockett was in his element, and kept the whole company in a constant roar. Their shouts and bacchanal songs resounded through the solitudes, with clamor and profaneness which must have fallen painfully upon angels’ ears, if any of heaven’s pure and gentle spirits were within hearing distance.

“We had,” writes Crockett, “a high night of it, as I took steam enough to drive out all the cold that was in me, and about three times as much more.”

These boon companions became warm friends, according to the most approved style of backwoods friendship. Mr. Owen told the boatmen that a few miles farther up the river a hurricane had entirely prostrated the forest, and that the gigantic trees so encumbered the stream that he was doubtful whether the boat could pass, unless the water should rise higher. Consequently he, with Crockett and Henry, accompanied the boatmen up to that point to help them through, should it be possible to effect a passage. But it was found impossible, and the boat dropped down again to its moorings opposite Mr. Owen’s cabin.

As it was now necessary to wait till the river should rise, the boatmen and Mr. Owen all consented to accompany Crockett to the place where he was to settle, and build his house for him. It seems very strange that, in that dismal wilderness, Crockett should not have preferred to build his cabin near so kind a neighbor. But so it was. He chose his lot at a distance of seven miles from any companionship.

“And so I got the boatmen,” he writes, “all to go out with me to where I was going to settle, and we slipped up a cabin in little or no time. I got from the boat four barrels of meal, one of salt, and about ten gallons of whiskey.”

For these he paid in labor, agreeing to accompany the boatmen up the river as far as their landing-place at McLemone’s Bluff.


Life on the Obion.

Hunting Adventures.–The Voyage up the River.–Scenes in the Cabin.–Return Home.–Removal of the Family.–Crockett’s Riches.–A Perilous Enterprise.–Reasons for his Celebrity.–Crockett’s Narrative.–A Bear-Hunt.–Visit to Jackson.–Again a Candidate for the Legislature.–Electioneering and Election.

The next day after building the cabin, to which Crockett intended to move his family, it began to rain, as he says, “rip-roariously.” The river rapidly rose, and the boatmen were ready to resume their voyage. Crockett stepped out into the forest and shot a deer, which he left as food for Abram Henry and his little boy, who were to remain in the cabin until his return. He expected to be absent six or seven days. The stream was very sluggish. By poling, as it was called, that is, by pushing the boat with long poles, they reached the encumbrance caused by the hurricane, where they stopped for the night.

In the morning, as soon as the day dawned, Crockett, thinking it impossible for them to get through the fallen timber that day, took his rifle and went into the forest in search of game. He had gone but a short distance when he came across a fine buck. The animal fell before his unerring aim, and, taking the prize upon his shoulders, he commenced a return to the boat.

He had not proceeded far before he came upon the fresh tracks of a herd of elks. The temptation to follow their trail was to a veteran hunter irresistible. He threw down his buck, and had not gone far before he came upon two more bucks, very large and splendid animals. The beautiful creatures, though manifesting some timidity, did not seem disposed to run, but, with their soft, womanly eyes, gazed with wonder upon the approaching stranger. The bullet from Crockett’s rifle struck between the eyes of one, and he fell dead. The other, his companion, exhibited almost human sympathy. Instead of taking to flight, he clung to his lifeless associate, looking down upon him as if some incomprehensible calamity had occurred. Crockett rapidly reloaded his rifle, and the other buck fell dead.

He hung them both upon the limb of a tree, so that they should not be devoured by the wolves, and followed on in the trail of the elks. He did not overtake them until nearly noon. They were then beyond rifle-shot, and kept so, luring him on quite a distance. At length he saw two other fine bucks, both of which he shot. The intellectual culture of the man may be inferred from the following characteristic description which he gives of these events:

“I saw two more bucks, very large fellows too. I took a blizzard at one of them, and up he tumbled. The other ran off a few jumps and stopped, and stood there until I loaded again and fired at him. I knocked his trotters from under him, and then I hung them both up. I pushed on again, and about sunset I saw three other bucks. I down’d with one of them, and the other two ran off. I hung this one up also, having killed six that day.

“I then pushed on till I got to the hurricane, and at the lower edge of it, about where I expected the boat was. Here I hollered as hard as I could roar, but could get no answer. I fired off my gun, and the men on the boat fired one too. But, quite contrary to my expectations, they had got through the timber, and were about two miles above me. It was now dark, and I had to crawl through the fallen timber the best way I could; and if the reader don’t know it was bad enough, I am sure I do. For the vines and briers had grown all through it, and so thick that a good fat coon couldn’t much more than get along. I got through at last, and went on to near where I had killed my last deer, and once more fired off my gun, which was again answered from the boat, which was a little above me. I moved on as fast as I could, but soon came to water; and not knowing how deep it was, I halted, and hollered till they came to me with a skiff. I now got to the boat without further difficulty. But the briers had worked on me at such a rate that I felt like I wanted sewing up all over. I took a pretty stiff horn, which soon made me feel much better. But I was so tired that I could scarcely work my jaws to eat.”

The next morning, Crockett took a young man with him and went out into the woods to bring in the game he had shot. They brought in two of the bucks, which afforded them all the supply of venison they needed, and left the others hanging upon the trees. The boatmen then pushed their way up the river. The progress was slow, and eleven toilsome days passed before they reached their destination. Crockett had now discharged his debt, and prepared to return to his cabin. There was a light skiff attached to the large flat-bottomed boat in which they had ascended the river. This skiff Crockett took, and, accompanied by a young man by the name of Flavius Harris, who had decided to go back with him, speedily paddled their way down the stream to his cabin.

There were now four occupants of this lonely, dreary hut, which was surrounded by forests and fallen trees and briers and brambles. They all went to work vigorously in clearing some land for a corn field, that they might lay in a store for the coming winter. The spring was far advanced, and the season for planting nearly gone. They had brought some seed with them on their pack-horse, and they soon had the pleasure of seeing the tender sprouts pushing up vigorously through the luxuriant virgin soil. It was not necessary to fence their field. Crockett writes:

“There was no stock nor anything else to disturb our corn except the wild varmints; and the old serpent himself, with a fence to help him, couldn’t keep them out.”

Here Crockett and his three companions remained through the summer and into the autumn, until they could gather in their harvest of corn. During that time they lived, as they deemed, sumptuously, upon game. To kill a grizzly bear was ever considered an achievement of which any hunter might boast. During the summer, Crockett killed ten of these ferocious monsters. Their flesh was regarded as a great delicacy. And their shaggy skins were invaluable in the cabin for beds and bedding. He also shot deer in great abundance. The smaller game he took, of fat turkeys, partridges, pigeons, etc., he did not deem worth enumerating.

It was a very lazy, lounging, indolent life. Crockett could any morning go into the woods and shoot a deer. He would bring all the desirable parts of it home upon his shoulders, or he would take his pack-horse out with him for that purpose. At their glowing fire, outside of the cabin if the weather were pleasant, inside if it rained, they would cook the tender steaks. They had meal for corn bread; and it will also be remembered that they had sugar, and ten gallons of whiskey.

The deerskins were easily tanned into soft and pliant leather. They all knew how to cut these skins, and with tough sinews to sew them into hunting-shirts, moccasins, and other needed garments. Sitting Indian-fashion on mattresses or cushions of bearskin, with just enough to do gently to interest the mind, with no anxiety or thought even about the future, they would loiter listlessly through the long hours of the summer days.

Occasionally two or three Indians, on a hunting excursion, would visit the cabin. These Indians were invariably friendly. Crockett had no more apprehension that they would trouble him than he had that the elk or the deer would make a midnight attack upon his cabin. Not unfrequently they would have a visit from Mr. Owen’s household; or they would all go up to his hut for a carouse. Two or three times, during the summer, small parties exploring the country came along, and would rest a day or two under Crockett’s hospitable roof. Thus with these men, with their peculiar habits and tastes, the summer probably passed away as pleasantly as with most people in this world of care and trouble.

Early in the autumn, Crockett returned to Central Tennessee to fetch his family to the new home. Upon reaching his cabin in Giles County, he was met by a summons to attend a special session of the Legislature. He attended, and served out his time, though he took but little interest in legislative affairs. His thoughts were elsewhere, and he was impatient for removal, before cold weather should set in, to his far-distant home.

Late in October he set out with his little family on foot, for their long journey of one hundred and fifty miles through almost a pathless forest. His poverty was extreme. But the peculiar character of the man was such that he did net seem to regard that at all. Two pack-horses conveyed all their household goods. Crockett led the party, with a child on one arm and his rifle on the other. He walked gayly along, singing as merrily as the birds. Half a dozen dogs followed him. Then came the horses in single file. His wife and older children, following one after the other in single file along the narrow trail, closed up the rear. It was a very singular procession, thus winding its way, through forest and moor, over hills and prairies, to the silent shores of the Mississippi. The eventful journey was safely accomplished, and he found all things as he had left them. A rich harvest of golden ears was waving in his corn-field; and his comfortable cabin, in all respects as comfortable as the one he had left, was ready to receive its inmates.

He soon gathered in his harvest, and was thus amply supplied with bread for the winter. Fuel, directly at his hand, was abundant, and thus, as we may say, his coal-bin was full. Game of every kind, excepting buffaloes, was ranging the woods, which required no shelter or food at his expense, and from which he could, at pleasure, select any variety of the most delicious animal food he might desire. Thus his larder was full to repletion. The skins of animals furnished them with warm and comfortable clothing, easily decorated with fringes and some bright coloring, whose beauty was tasteful to every eye. Thus the family wardrobe was amply stored. Many might have deemed Crockett a poor man. He regarded himself as one of the lords of creation.

Christmas was drawing nigh. It may be doubted whether Crockett had the slightest appreciation of the sacred character of that day which commemorates the advent of the Son of God to suffer and die for the sins of the world. With Crockett it had ever been a day of jollification. He fired salutes with his rifle. He sung his merriest songs. He told his funniest stories. He indulged himself in the highest exhilaration which whiskey could induce.

As this holiday approached, Crockett was much troubled in finding that his powder was nearly expended, and that he had none “to fire Christmas guns.” This seemed really to annoy him more than that he had none to hunt with.

In the mean time, a brother-in-law had moved to that region, and had reared his cabin at a distance of six miles from the hut of David Crockett, on the western bank of Rutherford’s Fork, one of the tributaries of Obion River. He had brought with him a keg of powder for Crockett, which had not yet been delivered.

The region all around was low and swampy. The fall rains had so swollen the streams that vast extents of territory were inundated. All the river-bottoms were covered with water. The meadows which lined the Obion, where Crockett would have to pass, were so flooded that it was all of a mile from shore to shore.

The energy which Crockett displayed on the difficult and perilous journey, illustrates those remarkable traits of character which have given him such wide renown. There must be something very extraordinary about a man which can make his name known throughout a continent. And of the forty millions of people in the United States, there is scarcely one, of mature years, who has not heard the name of David Crockett.

When Crockett told his wife that he had decided to go to his brother’s for the powder, she earnestly remonstrated, saying that it was at the imminent hazard of his life. The ground was covered with snow. He would have to walk at least a mile through icy water, up to his waist, and would probably have to swim the channel. He then, with dripping clothes, and through the cold wintry blast, would have to walk several miles before he could reach his brother’s home. Crockett persisted in his determination, saying, “I have no powder for Christmas, and we are out of meat.”

He put on some woollen wrappers and a pair of deerskin moccasins. He then tied up a small bundle; of clothes, with shoes and stockings, which he might exchange for his dripping garments when he should reach his brother’s cabin. I quote from his own account of the adventure.

“I didn’t before know how much a person could suffer and not die. The snow was about four inches deep when I started. And when I got to the water, which was only about a quarter of a mile off, it looked like an ocean. I put in, and waded on till I came to the channel, where I crossed that on a high log. I then took water again, having my gun and all my hunting tools along, and waded till I came to a deep slough, that was wider than the river itself. I had often crossed it on a log; but behold, when I got there no log was to be seen.

“I know’d of an island in the slough, and a sapling stood on it close to the side of that log, which was now entirely under water. I know’d further, that the water was about eight or ten feet deep under the log, and I judged it to be three feet deep over it. After studying a little what I should do, I determined to cut a forked sapling, which stood near me, so as to lodge it against the one that stood on the island. In this I succeeded very well. I then cut me a pole, and then crawled along on my sapling till I got to the one it was lodged against, which was about six feet above the water.

“I then felt about with the pole till I found the log, which was just about as deep under the water as I had judged. I then crawled back and got my gun, which I had left at the stump of the sapling I had cut, and again made my way to the place of lodgment, and then climbed down the other sapling so as to get on the log. I felt my way along with my feet in the water about waist-deep, but it was a mighty ticklish business. However, I got over, and by this time I had very little feeling in my feet and legs, as I had been all the time in the water, except what time I was crossing the high log over the river and climbing my lodged sapling.

“I went but a short distance when I came to another slough, over which there was a log, but it was floating on the water. I thought I could walk it, so I mounted on it. But when I had got about the middle of the deep water, somehow or somehow else, it turned over, and in I went up to my head. I waded out of this deep water, and went ahead till I came to the highland, where I stopped to pull of my wet clothes, and put on the others which I held up with my gun above water when I fell in.”

This exchanging of his dripping garments for dry clothes, standing in the snow four inches deep, and exposed to the wintry blast, must have been a pretty severe operation. Hardy as Crockett was, he was so chilled and numbed by the excessive cold that his flesh had scarcely any feeling. He tied his wet clothes together and hung them up on the limb of a tree, to drip and dry He thought he would then set out on the full run, and endeavor thus to warm himself by promoting the more rapid circulation of his blood. But to his surprise he could scarcely move. With his utmost exertions he could not take a step more than six inches in length. He had still five miles to walk, through a rough, pathless forest, encumbered with snow.

By great and painful effort he gradually recovered the use of his limbs, and toiling along for two or three hours, late in the evening was cheered by seeing the light of a bright fire shining through the chinks between the logs of his brother’s lonely cabin. He was received with the utmost cordiality. Even his hardy pioneer brother listened with astonishment to the narrative of the perils he had surmounted and the sufferings he had endured. After the refreshment of a warm supper, Crockett wrapped himself in a bearskin, and lying down upon the floor, with his feet to the fire, slept the sweet, untroubled sleep of a babe. In the morning he awoke as well as ever, feeling no bad consequences from the hardships of the preceding day.

The next morning a freezing gale from the north wailed through the snow-whitened forest, and the cold was almost unendurable. The earnest persuasions of his brother and his wife induced him to remain with them for the day. But, with his accustomed energy, instead of enjoying the cosey comfort of the Fireside, he took his rifle, and went out into the woods, wading the snow and breasting the gale. After the absence of an hour or two, he returned tottering beneath the load of two deer, which he had shot, and which he brought to the cabin on his shoulders. Thus he made a very liberal contribution to the food of the family, so that his visit was a source of profit to them, not of loss.

All the day, and during the long wintry night, the freezing blasts blew fiercely, and the weather grew more severely cold. The next morning his friends urged him to remain another day. They all knew that the water would be frozen over, but not sufficiently hard to bear his weight, and this would add greatly to the difficulty and the danger of his return. It seemed impossible that any man could endure, on such a day, fording a swollen stream, a mile in breadth, the water most of the way up to his waist, in some places above his head, and breaking the ice at every step. The prospect appalled even Crockett himself. He therefore decided to remain till the next morning, though he knew that his family would be left in a state of great anxiety. He hoped that an additional day and night might so add to the thickness of the ice that it would bear his weight.

He therefore shouldered his musket and again went into the woods on a hunt. Though he saw an immense bear, and followed him for some distance, he was unable to shoot him. After several hours’ absence, he returned empty-handed.

Another morning dawned, lurid and chill, over the gloomy forest. Again his friends entreated him not to run the risk of an attempt to return in such fearful weather. “It was bitter cold,” he writes, “but I know’d my family was without meat, and I determined to get home to them, or die a-trying.”

We will let Crockett tell his own story of his adventures in going back:

“I took my keg of powder and all my hunting tools and cut out. When I got to the water, it was a sheet of ice as far as I could see. I put on to it, but hadn’t got far before it broke through with me; and so I took out my tomahawk, and broke my way along before me for a considerable distance.

“At last I got to where the ice would bear me for a short distance, and I mounted on it and went ahead. But it soon broke in again, and I had to wade on till I came to my floating log. I found it so tight this time, that I know’d it couldn’t give me another fall, as it was frozen in with the ice. I crossed over it without much difficulty, and worked along till I came to my lodged sapling and my log under the water.

“The swiftness of the current prevented the water from freezing over it; and so I had to wade, just as I did when I crossed it before. When I got to my sapling, I left my gun, and climbed out with my powder-keg first, and then went back and got my gun. By this time, I was nearly frozen to death; but I saw all along before me where the ice had been fresh broke, and I thought it must be a bear struggling about in the water. I therefore fresh-primed my gun, and, cold as I was, I was determined to make war on him if we met. But I followed the trail till it led me home. Then I found that it had been made by my young man that lived with me, who had been sent by my distressed wife to see, if he could, what had become of me, for they all believed that I was dead. When I got home, I wasn’t quite dead, but mighty nigh it; but had my powder, and that was what I went for.”

The night after Crockett’s return a heavy rain fell, which, toward morning, turned to sleet. But there was no meat in the cabin. There were at that time three men who were inmates of that lowly hut–Crockett, a young man, Flavius Harris, who had taken up his abode with the pioneer, and a brother in-law, who had recently emigrated to that wild country, and had reared his cabin not far distant from Crockett’s. They all turned out hunting. Crockett, hoping to get a bear, went up the river into the dense and almost impenetrable thickets, where the gigantic forest had been swept low by the hurricane. The other two followed down the stream in search of turkeys, grouse, and such small game.

Crockett took with him three dogs, one of which was an old hound, faithful, sagacious, but whose most vigorous days were gone. The dogs were essential in hunting bears. By their keen scent they would find the animal, which fact they would announce to the hunter by their loud barking. Immediately a fierce running fight would ensue. By this attack the bear would be greatly retarded in his flight, so that the hunter could overtake him, and he would often be driven into a tree, where the unerring rifle-bullet would soon bring him down.

The storm of sleet still raged, and nothing could be more gloomy than the aspect of dreariness and desolation which the wrecked forest presented with its dense growth of briers and thorns. Crockett toiled through the storm and the brush about six miles up the river, and saw nothing. He then crossed over, about four miles, to another stream. Still no game appeared. The storm was growing more violent, the sleet growing worse and worse. Even the bears sought shelter from the pitiless wintry gale. The bushes were all bent down with the ice which clung to their branches, and were so bound together that it was almost impossible for any one to force his way through them.

The ice upon the stream would bear Crockett’s weight. He followed it down a mile or two, when his dogs started up a large flock of turkeys. He shot two of them. They were immensely large, fat, and heavy. Tying their legs together, he slung them over his shoulder, and with this additional burden pressed on his toilsome way. Ere long he became so fatigued that he was compelled to sit down upon a log to rest.

Just then his dogs began to bark furiously. He was quite sure that they had found a bear. Eagerly he followed the direction they indicated, as fast as he could force his way along. To his surprise he found that the three dogs had stopped near a large tree, and were barking furiously at nothing. But as soon as they saw him approaching they started off again, making the woods resound with their baying. Having run about a quarter of a mile, he could perceive that again they had stopped. When Crockett reached them there was no game in sight. The dogs, barking furiously again, as soon as they saw him approaching plunged into the thicket.

For a third time, and a fourth time, this was repeated. Crockett could not understand what it meant. Crockett became angry at being thus deceived, and resolved that he would shoot the old hound, whom he considered the ringleader in the mischief, as soon as he got near enough to do so.

“With this intention,” he says, “I pushed on the harder, till I came to the edge of an open prairie; and looking on before my dogs, I saw about the biggest bear that ever was seen in America. He looked, at the distance he was from me, like a large black bull. My dogs were afraid to attack him, and that was the reason they had stopped so often that I might overtake them.”

This is certainly a remarkable instance of animal sagacity. The three dogs, by some inexplicable conference among themselves, decided that the enemy was too formidable for them to attack alone. They therefore summoned their master to their aid. As soon as they saw that he was near enough to lend his cooperation, then they fearlessly assailed the monster.

The sight inspired Crockett with new life. Through thickets, briers, and brambles they all rushed–bear, dogs, and hunter. At length, the shaggy monster, so fiercely assailed, climbed for refuge a large black-oak tree, and sitting among the branches, looked composedly down upon the dogs barking fiercely at its foot. Crockett crept up within about eighty yards, and taking deliberate aim at his breast, fired. The bullet struck and pierced the monster directly upon the spot at which it was aimed. The bear uttered a sharp cry, made a convulsive movement with one paw, and remained as before.

Speedily Crockett reloaded his rifle, and sent another bullet to follow the first. The shaggy brute shuddered in every limb, and then tumbled head-long to the icy ground. Still he was not killed. The dogs plunged upon him, and there was a tremendous fight. The howling of the bear, and the frenzied barking of the dogs, with their sharp cries of pain as the claws of the monster tore their flesh, and the deathly struggle witnessed as they rolled over and over each other in the fierce fight, presented a terrific spectacle.

Crockett hastened to the aid of his dogs. As soon as the bear saw him approach, he forsook the inferior, and turned with all fury upon the superior foe. Crockett was hurrying forward with his tomahawk in one hand and his big butcher-knife in the other, when the bear, with eyes flashing fire, rushed upon him. Crockett ran back, seized his rifle, and with a third bullet penetrated the monster’s brain and he fell dead. The dogs and their master seemed to rejoice alike in their great achievement.

By the route which Crockett had pursued, he was about twelve miles from home. Leaving the huge carcass where the animal had fallen, he endeavored to make a straight line through the forest to his cabin. That he might find his way back again, he would, at every little distance, blaze, as it was called, a sapling, that is, chip off some of the bark with his hatchet. When he got within a mile of home this was no longer necessary.

The other two men had already returned to the cabin. As the wolves might devour the valuable meat before morning, they all three set out immediately, notwithstanding their fatigue and the still raging storm, and taking with them four pack-horses, hastened back to bring in their treasure. Crockett writes:

“We got there just before dark, and struck a fire, and commenced butchering my bear. It was some time in the night before we finished it. And I can assert, on my honor, that I believe he would have weighed six hundred pounds. It was the second largest I ever saw. I killed one, a few years after, that weighed six hundred and seventeen pounds. I now felt fully compensated for my sufferings in going back after my powder; and well satisfied that a dog might sometimes be doing a good business, even when he seemed to be barking up the wrong tree.

“We got our meat home, and I had the pleasure to know that we now had a plenty, and that of the best; and I continued through the winter to supply my family abundantly with bear-meat, and venison from the woods.”

In the early spring, Crockett found that he had a large number of valuable skins on hand, which he had taken during the winter. About forty miles southeast from Crockett’s cabin, in the heart of Madison County, was the thriving little settlement of Jackson. Crockett packed his skins on a horse, shouldered his rifle, and taking his hardy little son for a companion, set off there to barter his peltries for such articles of household use as he could convey back upon his horse. The journey was accomplished with no more than the ordinary difficulties. A successful trade was effected, and with a rich store of coffee, sugar, powder, lead, and salt, the father and son prepared for their return.

Crockett found there some of his old fellow-soldiers of the Creek War. When all things were ready for a start, he went to bid adieu to his friends and to take a parting dram with them. There were three men present who were candidates for the State Legislature. While they were having a very merry time, one, as though uttering a thought which had that moment occurred to him, exclaimed, “Why, Crockett, you ought to offer yourself for the Legislature for your district.” Crockett replied, “I live at least forty miles from any white settlement.” Here the matter dropped.

About ten days after Crockett’s return home, a stranger, passing along, stopped at Crockett’s cabin and told him that he was a candidate for Legislature, and took from his pocket a paper, and read to him the announcement of the fact. There was something in the style of the article which satisfied Crockett that there was a little disposition to make fun of him; and that his nomination was intended as a burlesque. This roused him, and he resolved to put in his claim with all his zeal. He consequently hired a man to work upon his farm, and set out on an electioneering tour.

Though very few people had seen Crockett, he had obtained very considerable renown in that community of backwoodsmen as a great bear-hunter. Dr. Butler, a man of considerable pretensions, and, by marriage, a nephew of General Jackson, was the rival candidate, and a formidable one. Indeed, he and his friends quite amused themselves with the idea that “the gentleman from the cane,” as they contemptuously designated Crockett, could be so infatuated as to think that there was the least chance for him. The population of that wilderness region was so scarce that the district for which a representative was to be chosen consisted of eleven counties.

A great political gathering was called, which was to be held in Madison County, which was the strongest of them all. Here speeches were to be made by the rival candidates and their friends, and electioneering was to be practised by all the arts customary in that rude community. The narrative of the events which ensued introduces us to a very singular state of society. At the day appointed there was a large assembly, in every variety of backwoods costume, among the stumps and the lowly cabins of Jackson. Crockett mingled with the crowd, watching events, listening to everything which was said, and keeping himself as far as possible unknown.

Dr. Butler, seeing a group of men, entered among them, and called for whiskey to treat them all. The Doctor had once met Crockett when a few weeks before he had been in Jackson selling his furs. He however did not recognize his rival among the crowd. As the whiskey was passing freely around, Crockett thought it a favorable moment to make himself known, and to try his skill at an electioneering speech. He was a good-looking man, with a face beaming with fun and smiles, and a clear, ringing voice. He jumped upon a stump and shouted out, in tones which sounded far and wide, and which speedily gathered all around him.

“Hallo! Doctor Butler; you don’t know me do you? But I’ll make you know me mighty well before August. I see they have weighed you out against me. But I’ll beat you mighty badly.”

Butler pleasantly replied, “Ah, Colonel Crockett, is that you? Where did you come from?”

Crockett rejoined, “Oh, I have just crept out from the cane, to see what discoveries I could make among the white folks. You think you have greatly the advantage of me, Butler. ‘Tis true I live forty miles from any settlement. I am poor, and you are rich. You see it takes two coonskins here to buy a quart. But I’ve good dogs, and my little boys at home will go to their death to support my election. They are mighty industrious. They hunt every night till twelve o’clock. It keeps the little fellows mighty busy to keep me in whiskey. When they gets tired, I takes my rifle and goes out and kills a wolf, for which the State pays me three dollars. So one way or other I keeps knocking along.”

Crockett perhaps judged correctly that the candidate who could furnish the most whiskey would get the most votes. He thus adroitly informed these thirsty men of his readiness and his ability to furnish them with all the liquor they might need. Strange as his speech seems to us, it was adapted to the occasion, and was received with roars of laughter and obstreperous applause.

“Well, Colonel,” said Dr. Butler, endeavoring to clothe his own countenance with smiles, “I see you can beat me electioneering.”

“My dear fellow,” shouted out Crockett, “you don’t call this electioneering, do you? When you see me electioneering, I goes fixed for the purpose. I’ve got a suit of deer-leather clothes, with two big pockets. So I puts a bottle of whiskey in one, and a twist of tobacco in t’other, and starts out. Then, if I meets a friend, why, I pulls out my bottle and gives him a drink. He’ll be mighty apt, before he drinks, to throw away his tobacco. So when he’s done, I pulls my twist out of t’other pocket and gives him a chaw. I never likes to leave a man worse off than when I found him. If I had given him a drink and he had lost his tobacco, he would not have made much. But give him tobacco, and a drink too, and you are mighty apt to get his vote.”

With such speeches as these, interlarded with fun and anecdote, and a liberal supply of whiskey, Crockett soon made himself known through all the grounds, and he became immensely popular. The backwoodsmen regarded him as their man, belonging to their class and representing their interests.

Dr. Butler was a man of some culture, and a little proud and overbearing in his manners. He had acquired what those poor men deemed considerable property. He lived in a framed house, and in his best room he had a rug or carpet spread over the middle of the floor. This carpet was a luxury which many of the pioneers had never seen or conceived of. The Doctor, standing one day at his window, saw several persons, whose votes he desired, passing along, and he called them in to take a drink.

There was a table in the centre of the room, with choice liquors upon it. The carpet beneath the table covered only a small portion of the floor, leaving on each side a vacant space around the room. The men cautiously walked around this space, without daring to put their feet upon the carpet. After many solicitations from Dr. Butler, and seeing him upon the carpet, they ventured up to the table and drank. They, however, were under great restraint, and soon left, manifestly not pleased with their reception.

Calling in at the next log house to which they came, they found there one of Crockett’s warm friends. They inquired of him what kind of a man the great bear-hunter was, and received in reply that he was a first-rate man, one of the best hunters in the world; that he was not a bit proud; that he lived in a log cabin, without any glass for his windows, and with the earth alone for his floor.

“Ah!” they exclaimed with one voice, “he’s the fellow for us. We’ll never give our votes for such a proud man as Butler. He called us into his house to take a drink, and spread down one of his best bed-quilts for us to walk on. It was nothing but a piece of pride.”

The day of election came, and Crockett was victorious by a majority of two hundred and forty-seven votes. Thus he found himself a second time a member of the Legislature of the State of Tennessee, and with a celebrity which caused all eyes to be turned toward “the gentleman from the cane.”


Adventures in the Forest, on the River, and in the City

The Bear Hunter’s Story.–Service in the Legislature.–Candidate for Congress.–Electioneering.–The New Speculation.–Disastrous Voyage.–Narrow Escape.–New Electioneering Exploits.–Odd Speeches.–The Visit to Crockett’s Cabin.–His Political Views.–His Honesty.–Opposition to Jackson.–Scene at Raleigh.–Dines with the President.–Gross Caricature.–His Annoyance.

Crockett was very fond of hunting-adventures, and told stories of these enterprises in a racy way, peculiarly characteristic of the man. The following narrative from his own lips, the reader will certainly peruse with much interest.

“I was sitting by a good fire in my little cabin, on a cool November evening, roasting potatoes I believe, and playing with my children, when some one halloed at the fence. I went out, and there were three strangers, who said they come to take an elk-hunt. I was glad to see ’em, invited ’em in, and after supper we cleaned our guns. I took down old Betsey, rubbed her up, greased her, and laid her away to rest. She is a mighty rough old piece. but I love her, for she and I have seen hard times. She mighty seldom tells me a lie. If I hold her right, she always sends the ball where I tell her, After we were all fixed, I told ’em hunting-stories till bedtime.

“Next morning was clear and cold, and by times I sounded my horn, and my dogs came howling ’bout me, ready for a, chase. Old Rattler was a little lame–a bear bit him in the shoulder; but Soundwell, Tiger, and the rest of ’em were all mighty anxious. We got a bite, and saddled our horses. I went by to git a neighbor to drive for us, and off we started for the Harricane. My dogs looked mighty wolfish; they kept jumping on one another and growling. I knew they were run mad for a fight, for they hadn’t had one for two or three days. We were in fine spirits, and going ‘long through very open woods, when one of the strangers said, ‘I would give my horse now to see a bear.’

“Said I, ‘Well, give me your horse,’ and I pointed to an old bear, about three or four hundred yards ahead of us, feeding on acorns.

“I had been looking at him some time, but he was so far off; I wasn’t certain what it was. However, I hardly spoke before we all strained off; and the woods fairly echoed as we harked the dogs on. The old bear didn’t want to run, and he never broke till we got most upon him; but then he buckled for it, I tell you. When they overhauled him he just rared up on his hind legs, and he boxed the dogs ’bout at a mighty rate. He hugged old Tiger and another, till he dropped ’em nearly lifeless; but the others worried him, and after a while they all come to, and they give him trouble. They are mighty apt, I tell you, to give a bear trouble before they leave him.

“‘Twas a mighty pretty fight–‘twould have done any one’s soul good to see it, just to see how they all rolled about. It was as much as I could do to keep the strangers from shooting him; but I wouldn’t let ’em, for fear they would kill some of my dogs. After we got tired seeing ’em fight, I went in among ’em, and the first time they got him down I socked my knife in the old bear. We then hung him up, and went on to take our elk-hunt. You never seed fellows so delighted as them strangers was. Blow me, if they didn’t cut more capers, jumping about, than the old bear. ‘Twas a mighty pretty fight, but I believe I seed more fun looking at them than at the bear.

“By the time we got to the Harricane, we were all rested, and ripe for a drive. My dogs were in a better humor, for the fight had just taken off the wiry edge. So I placed the strangers at the stands through which I thought the elk would pass, sent the driver way up ahead, and I went down below.

“Everything was quiet, and I leaned old Betsey ‘gin a tree, and laid down. I s’pose I had been lying there nearly an hour, when I heard old Tiger open. He opened once or twice, and old Rattler gave a long howl; the balance joined in, and I knew the elk were up. I jumped up and seized my rifle. I could hear nothing but one continued roar of all my dogs, coming right towards me. Though I was an old hunter, the music made my hair stand on end. Soon after they first started, I heard one gun go off, and my dogs stopped, but not long, for they took a little tack towards where I had placed the strangers. One of them fired, and they dashed back, and circled round way to my left. I run down ’bout a quarter of a mile, and I heard my dogs make a bend like they were coming to me. While I was listening, I heard the bushes breaking still lower down, and started to run there.

“As I was going ‘long, I seed two elks burst out of the Harricane ’bout one hundred and thirty or forty yards below me. There was an old buck and a doe. I stopped, waited till they got into a clear place, and as the old fellow made a leap, I raised old Bet, pulled trigger, and she spoke out. The smoke blinded me so, that I couldn’t see what I did; but as it cleared away, I caught a glimpse of only one of them going through the bushes; so I thought I had the other. I went up, and there lay the old buck kicking. I cut his throat, and by that time, Tiger and two of my dogs came up. I thought it singular that all my dogs wasn’t there, and I began to think they had killed another. After the dogs had bit him, and found out he was dead, old Tiger began to growl, and curled himself up between his legs. Everything had to stand off then, for he wouldn’t let the devil himself touch him.

“I started off to look for the strangers. My two dogs followed me. After gitting away a piece, I looked back, and once in a while I could see old Tiger git up and shake the elk, to see if he was really dead, and then curl up between his legs agin. I found the strangers round a doe elk the driver had killed; and one of ’em said he was sure he had killed one lower down. I asked him if he had horns. He said he didn’t see any. I put the dogs on where he said he had shot, and they didn’t go fur before they came to a halt. I went up, and there lay a fine buck elk; and though his horns were four or five feet long, the fellow who shot him was so scared that he never saw them. We had three elk, and a bear; and we managed to git it home, then butchered our game, talked over our hunt, and had a glorious frolic.”

Crockett served in the Legislature for two years, during which time nothing occurred of special interest. These were the years of 1823 and 1824. Colonel Alexander was then the representative, in the National Legislature, of the district in which Crockett lived. He had offended his constituents by voting for the Tariff. It was proposed to run Crockett for Congress in opposition to him. Crockett says:

“I told the people that I could not stand that. It was a step above my knowledge; and I know’d nothing about Congress matters.”

They persisted; but he lost the election; for cotton was very high, and Alexander urged that it was in consequence of the Tariff. Two years passed away, which Crockett spent in the wildest adventures of hunting. He was a true man of the woods with no ambition for any better home than the log cabin he occupied. There was no excitement so dear to him as the pursuit and capture of a grizzly bear. There is nothing on record, in the way of hunting, which surpasses the exploits of this renowned bear-hunter. But there is a certain degree of sameness in these narratives of skill and endurance which would weary the reader.

In the fall of 1825, Crockett built two large flat-boats, to load with staves for the making of casks, which he intended to take down the river to market. He employed a number of hands in building the boat and splitting out the staves, and engaged himself in these labors “till the bears got fat.” He then plunged into the woods, and in two weeks killed fifteen. The whole winter was spent in hunting with his son and his dogs. His workmen continued busy getting the staves, and when the rivers rose with the spring floods, he had thirty thousand ready for the market.

With this load he embarked for New Orleans. His boats without difficulty floated down the Obion into the majestic Mississippi. It was the first time he had seen the rush of these mighty waters. There was before him a boat voyage of nearly fifteen hundred miles, through regions to him entirely unknown. In his own account of this adventure he writes:

“When I got into the Mississippi I found all my hands were bad scared. In fact, I believe I was scared a little the worst of any; for I had never been down the river, and I soon discovered that my pilot was as ignorant of the business as myself. I hadn’t gone far before I determined to lash the two boats together. We did so; but it made them so heavy and obstinate that it was next akin to impossible to do any thing at all with them, or to guide them right in the river.

“That evening we fell in company with some Ohio boats, and about night we tried to land, but we could not. The Ohio men hollered to us to go on and run all night. We took their advice, though we had a good deal rather not. But we couldn’t do any other way. In a short distance we got into what is called the Devil’s Elbow. And if any place in the wide creation has its own proper name I thought it was this. Here we had about the hardest work that I was ever engaged in in my life, to keep out of danger. And even then we were in it all the while. We twice attempted to land at Wood Yards, which we could see, but couldn’t reach.

“The people would run out with lights, and try to instruct us how to get to shore; but all in vain. Our boats were so heavy that we could not take them much any way except the way they wanted to go, and just the way the current would carry them. At last we quit trying to land, and concluded just to go ahead as well as we could, for we found we couldn’t do any better.

“Some time in the night I was down in the cabin of one of the boats, sitting by the fire, thinking on what a hobble we had got into; and how much better bear-hunting was on hard land, than floating along on the water, when a fellow had to go ahead whether he was exactly willing or not. The hatch-way of the cabin came slap down, right through the top of the boat; and it was the only way out, except a small hole in the side which we had used for putting our arms through to dip up water before we lashed the boats together.

“We were now floating sideways, and the boat I was in was the hindmost as we went. All at once I heard the hands begin to run over the top of the boat in great confusion, and pull with all their might. And the first thing I know’d after this we went broadside full tilt against the head of an island, where a large raft of drift timber had lodged. The nature of such a place would be, as everybody knows, to suck the boats down and turn them right under this raft; and the uppermost boat would, of course, be suck’d down and go under first. As soon as we struck, I bulged for my hatchway, as the boat was turning under sure enough. But when I got to it, the water was pouring through in a current as large as the hole would let it, and as strong as the weight of the river would force it. I found I couldn’t get out here, for the boat was now turned down in such a way that it was steeper than a house-top. I now thought of the hole in the side, and made my way in a hurry for that.

“With difficulty I got to it, and when I got there, I found it was too small for me to get out by my own power, and I began to think that I was in a worse box than ever. But I put my arms through, and hollered as loud as I could roar, as the boat I was in hadn’t yet quite filled with water up to my head; and the hands who were next to the raft, seeing my arms out, and hearing me holler, seized them, and began to pull. I told them I was sinking, and to pull my arms off, or force me through, for now I know’d well enough it was neck or nothing, come out or sink.

“By a violent effort they jerked me through; but I was in a pretty pickle when I got through. I had been sitting without any clothing over my shirt; this was tom off, and I was literally skinn’d like a rabbit. I was, however, well pleased to get out in any way, even without shirt or hide; as before I could straighten myself on the boat next to the raft, the one they pull’d me out of went entirely under, and I have never seen it any more to this day. We all escaped on to the raft, where we were compelled to sit all night, about a mile from land on either side. Four of my company were bareheaded, and three barefooted; and of that number I was one. I reckon I looked like a pretty cracklin ever to get to Congress!

“We had now lost all our loading, and every particle of our clothing, except what little we had on; but over all this, while I was sitting there, in the night, floating about on the drift, I felt happier and better off than I ever had in my life before, for I had just made such a marvellous escape, that I had forgot almost everything else in that; and so I felt prime.

“In the morning about sunrise, we saw a boat coming down, and we hailed her. They sent a large skiff, and took us all on board, and carried us down as far as Memphis. Here I met with a friend, that I never can forget as long as I am able to go ahead at anything; it was a Major Winchester, a merchant of that place; he let us all have hats, and shoes, and some little money to go upon, and so we all parted.

“A young man and myself concluded to go on down to Natchez, to see if we could hear anything of our boats; for we supposed they would float out from the raft, and keep on down the river. We got on a boat at Memphis, that was going down, and so cut out. Our largest boat, we were informed, had been seen about fifty miles below where we stove, and an attempt had been made to land her, but without success, as she was as hard-headed as ever

“This was the last of my boats, and of my boating; for it went so badly with me along at the first, that I had not much mind to try it any more. I now returned home again, and, as the next August was the Congressional election, I began to turn my attention a little to that matter, as it was beginning to be talked of a good deal among the people.”

Cotton was down very low. Crockett could now say to the people: “You see the effects of the Tariff.” There were two rival candidates for the office, Colonel Alexander and General Arnold. Money was needed to carry the election, and Crockett had no money. He resolved, however, to try his chances. A friend loaned him a little money to start with; which sum Crockett, of course, expended in whiskey, as the most potent influence, then and there, to secure an election.

“So I was able,” writes Crockett, “to buy a little of the ‘creature,’ to put my friends in a good humor, as well as the other gentlemen, for they all treat in that country; not to get elected, of course, for that would be against the law, but just to make themselves and their friends feel their keeping a little.”

The contest was, as usual, made up of drinking, feasting, and speeches. Colonel Alexander was an intelligent and worthy man, who had been public surveyor. General Arnold was a lawyer of very respectable attainments. Neither of these men considered Crockett a candidate in the slightest degree to be feared. They only feared each other, and tried to circumvent each other.

On one occasion there was a large gathering, where all three of the candidates were present, and each one was expected to make a speech. It came Crockett’s lot to speak first. He knew nothing of Congressional affairs, and had sense enough to be aware that it was not best for him to attempt to speak upon subjects of which he was entirely ignorant. He made one of his funny speeches, very short and entirely non-committal. Colonel Alexander followed, endeavoring to grapple with the great questions of tariffs, finance, and internal improvements, which were then agitating the nation.

General Arnold then, in his turn, took the stump, opposing the measures which Colonel Alexander had left. He seemed entirely to ignore the fact that Crockett was a candidate. Not the slightest allusion was made to him in his speech. The nervous temperament predominated in the man, and he was easily annoyed. While speaking, a large flock of guinea-hens came along, whose peculiar and noisy cry all will remember who have ever heard it. Arnold was greatly disturbed, and at last requested some one to drive the fowls away. As soon as he had finished his speech, Crockett again mounted the stump, and ostensibly addressing Arnold, but really addressing the crowd, said, in a loud voice, but very jocosely:

“Well, General, you are the first man I ever saw that understood the language of fowls. You had i not the politeness even to allude to me in your speech. But when my little friends the guinea-hens came up, and began to holler ‘Crockett, Crockett, Crockett,’ you were ungenerous enough to drive them all away.”

This raised such a universal laugh that even Crockett’s opponents feared that he was getting the best of them in winning the favor of the people. When the day of election came, the popular bear-hunter beat both of his competitors by twenty-seven hundred and forty-seven votes. Thus David Crockett, unable to read and barely able to sign his name, became a member of Congress, to assist in framing laws for the grandest republic earth has ever known. He represented a constituency of about one hundred thousand souls.

An intelligent gentleman, travelling in West Tennessee, finding himself within eight miles of Colonel Crockett’s cabin, decided to call upon the man whose name had now become quite renowned. This was just after Crockett’s election to Congress, but before he had set out for Washington. There was no road leading to the lonely hut. He followed a rough and obstructed path or trail, which was indicated only by blazed trees, and which bore no marks of being often travelled.

At length he came to a small opening in the forest, very rude and uninviting in its appearance. It embraced eight or ten acres. One of the humblest and least tasteful of log huts stood in the centre. It was truly a cabin, a mere shelter from the weather. There was no yard; there were no fences. Not the slightest effort had been made toward ornamentation. It would be difficult to imagine a more lonely and cheerless abode.

Two men were seated on stools at the door, both in their shirt-sleeves, engaged in cleaning their rifles. As the stranger rode up, one of the men rose and came forward to meet him. He was dressed in very plain homespun attire, with a black fur cap upon his head. He was a finely proportioned man, about six feet high, apparently forty-five years of age, and of very frank, pleasing, open countenance. He held his rifle in his hand, and from his right shoulder hung a bag made of raccoon skin, to which there was a sheath attached containing a large butcher-knife.

“This is Colonel Crockett’s residence, I presume,” said the stranger.

“Yes,” was the reply, with a smile as of welcome.

“Have I the pleasure of seeing that gentleman before me?” the stranger added.

“If it be a pleasure,” was the courtly reply, “you have, sir.”

“Well, Colonel,” responded the stranger, “I have ridden much out of my way to spend a day or two with you, and take a hunt.”

“Get down, sir,” said the Colonel, cordially. “I am delighted to see you. I like to see strangers. And the only care I have is that I cannot accommodate them as well as I could wish. I have no corn, but my little boy will take your horse over to my son-in-law’s. He is a good fellow, and will take care of him.”

Leading the stranger into his cabin, Crockett very courteously introduced him to his brother, his wife, and his daughters. He then added:

“You see we are mighty rough here. I am afraid you will think it hard times. But we have to do the best we can. I started mighty poor, and have been rooting ‘long ever since. But I hate apologies. What I live upon always, I think a friend can for a day or two. I have but little, but that little is as free as the water that runs. So make yourself at home.”

Mrs. Crockett was an intelligent and capable woman for one in her station in life. The cabin was clean and orderly, and presented a general aspect of comfort. Many trophies of the chase were in the house, and spread around the yard. Several dogs, looking like war-worn veterans, were sunning themselves in various parts of the premises.

All the family were neatly dressed in home-made garments. Mrs. Crockett was a grave, dignified woman, very courteous to her guests. The daughters were remarkably pretty, but very diffident. Though entirely uneducated, they could converse very easily, seeming to inherit their father’s fluency of utterance. They were active and efficient in aiding their mother in her household work. Colonel Crockett, with much apparent pleasure, conducted his guest over the small patch of ground he had grubbed and was cultivating. He exhibited his growing peas and pumpkins, and his little field of corn, with as much apparent pleasure as an Illinois farmer would now point out his hundreds of acres of waving grain. The hunter seemed surprisingly well informed. As we have mentioned, nature had endowed him with unusual strength of mind, and with a memory which was almost miraculous. He never forgot anything he had heard. His electioneering tours had been to him very valuable schools of education. Carefully he listened to all the speeches and the conversation of the intelligent men he met with.

John Quincy Adams was then in the Presidential chair. It was the year 1827. Nearly all Crockett’s constituents were strong Jackson-men. Crockett, who afterward opposed Jackson, subsequently said, speaking of his views at that time:

“I can say on my conscience, that I was, without disguise, the friend and supporter of General Jackson upon his principles, as he had laid them down, and as I understood them, before his election as President.”

Alluding to Crockett’s political views at that time, his guest writes, “I held in high estimation the present Administration of our country. To this he was opposed. His views, however, delighted me. And were they more generally adopted we should be none the loser. He was opposed to the Administration, and yet conceded that many of its acts were wise and efficient, and would have received his cordial support. He admired Mr. Clay, but had objections to him. He was opposed to the Tariff, yet, I think, a supporter of the United States Bank. He seemed to have the most horrible objection to binding himself to any man or set of men. He said, ‘I would as lieve be an old coon-dog as obliged to do what any man or set of men would tell me to do. I will support the present Administration as far as I would any other; that is, as far as I believe its views to be right. I will pledge myself to support no Administration. I had rather be politically damned than hypocritically immortalized.'”

In the winter of 1827, Crockett emerged from his cabin in the wilderness for a seat in Congress. He was so poor that he had not money enough to pay his expenses to Washington. His election had cost him one hundred and fifty dollars, which a friend had loaned him. The same friend advanced one hundred dollars more to help him on his journey.

“When I left home,” he says, “I was happy, devilish, and full of fun. I bade adieu to my friends, dogs, and rifle, and took the stage, where I met with much variety of character, and amused myself when my humor prompted. Being fresh from the backwoods, my stories amused my companions, and I passed my time pleasantly.

“When I arrived at Raleigh the weather was cold and rainy, and we were all dull and tired. Upon going into the tavern, where I was an entire stranger, the room was crowded, and the crowd did not give way that I might come to the fire. I was rooting my way to the fire, not in a good humor, when some fellow staggered up towards me, and cried out, ‘Hurrah for Adams.’

“Said I, ‘Stranger, you had better hurrah for hell, and praise your own country.’