More on Abraham Lincoln & David Crockett

Abraham Lincoln admired David Crockett. And, according to author Michael Wallis, also “fell under the spell of the mythical Crockett.” The “spell” had to do with the Crockett that was said to be one of the “most eccentric and amusing members of Congress.” Furthermore, that same Crockett was being written up in the media as the man who could “wade  the Mississppi, carry a steamboat on his back and whip his weight in wild-cats.” Lincoln must have enjoyed reading such tales to no end. Yet, it also must have gone deeper for Lincoln than merely getting a laugh at the Crockett news stories. In his book: ‘David Crockett: The Lion of the West,” Wallis gives insight into Lincoln’s affinity for Crockett:

“Lincoln admired Crockett, a man like himself, who grew up in poverty and became a national icon. Both Crockett and Lincoln also had gregarious personalities and a penchant for telling humorous stories, though Lincoln had a brooding, introspective side that Crockett, a more unselfconscious sort, could not have appreciated.”

So Abraham Lincoln saw that Crockett came from poverty like himself and was a man of humor-a man who liked to tell jokes and tales. He also saw that Crockett was a politician-but an “outsider.” He saw himself as an “outsider”-someone from the West-not a “Washington” type. I’m sure Lincoln viewed Crockett as a “man of the people.” He must have also felt Crockett was an honest man. These were the attributes and qualities that Lincoln held in high esteem-and tried to have in himself.

Interestingly enough, there was an incident in Crockett’s life that took place in a Washington theater that bears mentioning. Mr. Wallis tells us:

“Thirty-two years before the first presidential assassination, when Lincoln was a young Whig politician, Crockett had his own memorable moment in another Washington D.C. , theater. On the evening of December 21, 1833, at a benefit performance of The Lion of the West staged at the Washington Theater, Crockett, who had returned to the capital, was escorted to a special reserved seat in the front row, stage center. The capacity audience cheered and hollered in recognition. Then the curtain slowly rose and James Hackett sprang onto the stage, dressed in leather leggings and wildcat-skin hat of Colonel Nimrod Wildfire. He walked to the edge of the stage and ceremoniously bowed to the smiling Crockett, who, in turn, rose from his seat and returned the bow to Hackett. The crowd responded with a volley of thunderous applause. All the while, the actor portraying the legend and the real man continued to bow and smile.”

As we all know, Abraham Lincoln would also have a “surprise” in a Washington theater. His “surprise” person would also be on stage in front of the audience. After Booth shot Lincoln, the president’s legend would immediately ascend into the heavens. Today, both Crockett and Lincoln are legends. Books are written to try and sort the myths from the “real” men. Seems that even in death Lincoln and Crockett share in common the mythology that began while one was alive and immediately after the other died.


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