Gateway to the Classics: Davy Crockett by Frank Lee beals
Davy Crockett by  Frank Lee beals

Davy Travels Down East

D URING the rest of the fall and winter Davy spent most of his time hunting. He gave all the game that he did not need to his neighbors.

Early in February, Davy went to Jackson to sell his furs and buy supplies for his family. Davy looked forward to the spring trip each year. This year he was almost impatient to go because he longed to hear the news from the outside world.

"I must talk to all the buyers who come to Jackson," he said to himself as he rode along the familiar trail. "They can tell me what is happening in other parts of the country. I know many things have happened since my last trip. The United States is growing." He rode on in silence. Then he said in a surprised voice, "I have changed. I am growing, too."

Davy had changed. Once a wilderness with plenty of hunting was all he needed to make him happy. But during his years in the Tennessee Legislature and in the United States Congress, Davy had become interested in many things.

Davy had gone to Nashville a young, honest, and uneducated representative of his people. He learned quickly and easily. His greatest talent was his remarkable memory. It was this memory that made him famous as a scout. Once he had followed a trail it held no secrets from him. He never forgot a turn or a landmark. In political life he listened and waited. Davy's memory served him well. He remembered all of the rules of debate and of making laws.

Davy was honest. He was devoted to the interests of the people. He fought to protect what he felt were their rights and dues.

When Davy reached Jackson he sold his furs and visited his old friends.

"Davy," said one of the buyers, "I hardly expected to see you this spring."

"Why?" asked Davy.

"So many people are going to the new frontier. I thought you might have gone, too. Texas, everyone is saying, is the new land."

"I have been hearing a lot about Texas," answered Davy. "I hear there is unrest, and even talk of revolution. It is a new frontier. Maybe some day I will go."

"We want you to run for Congress again," said his friend Owens. "This is election year and you can win."

"Yes, you can win, Davy," shouted the men.

"There are political forces that will work against me," said Davy slowly, "but I will run."

For the next few months Davy made political speeches. He traveled many miles on horseback. Again he went to shooting matches and barbecues and hunting parties.

Davy lived with men who were great hunters and excellent marksmen. Even the most expert admitted that Davy had no equal as a marksman.

"Have you ever seen him snuff a candle?" asked one of the men.

"No, I haven't," said a stranger.

"Then watch! Davy has entered the contest. He is standing over there waiting his turn."

The stranger watched Davy as he stood with the other marksmen.

"He is sure of himself," said the stranger.

When Davy stepped forward the crowd cheered. He grinned at them as they called, "Don't put out the candle, Davy."

Davy waited for a candle to be placed in the crotch of a tree. "Light it for me," he called.

The crowd laughed. The man who had placed the candle in the tree laughed, too. He lighted the candle and stepped aside.

Davy raised his rifle. Quickly but carefully he took aim and fired. His aim was true. He had trimmed the wick of the candle but the flame burned on brightly.

"Hurrah for Davy! Do it again!"

Davy backed farther away from the candle than any of the other marksmen had stood. Again he aimed and fired. Again he snuffed the candle, leaving the flame burning brightly.

"Do it again!" called the crowd.

The stranger cheered with the crowd. "Crockett," he called, "do it again."

Davy snuffed the candle several times. Each time he stepped back a few feet.

Davy devoted all of his time to winning the election. His opponents no longer ignored him. They worked hard to defeat him. When the election was over and the votes were counted, Davy had won.

"Go ahead, Crockett!" his friends called to him as again he left for Washington.

Eagerly and with assurance Davy took up his duties. He worked many hours each day. At last his health broke. "You must have rest, Crockett," said his doctor. "Go home for a while."

"No," answered Davy, "I must stay here."

"You must leave your work for a few weeks," said the doctor.

"Then I will travel through the East. I want to know more about my country. I must learn what people are thinking, what they are hoping for, and how they live."

Davy left Washington. He visited all the big and important cities of the East.

Everywhere his fame had gone ahead of him. People cheered and shouted welcomes and goodbys. His quick, flashing smile endeared him to his new friends.

"Give me the hand of an honest man," cried one of the men who greeted him in Philadelphia. As Davy walked down the gangplank from the steamship, he looked into five thousand faces.

"I am almost afraid of so many people," he said to himself. Then a small boy called to him, "Go ahead, Davy Crockett! Go ahead!"

Davy grinned and waved his coonskin cap to the cheering crowd. "Speech! Speech!" they called.

"I have faced the enemy without fear," Davy said to himself. "These people are my friends. Why should I be afraid of them? I will go ahead. I will speak to them."

In Philadelphia, Davy was presented with a seal for his watch chain. On the seal were engraved two racing horses and the two words, "Go ahead!"

Davy was also presented with a rifle. It had been carefully made according to directions that Davy had given.

"This rifle, 'Old Betsy,' is the most beautiful rifle I have ever seen," he said as he accepted it. "I will always keep Old Betsy with me. If my country ever needs my services again as a soldier, Old Betsy will go with me. And when I die, someone else will carry Old Betsy onward!"

In Boston, Davy stood in front of Faneuil Hall with his coonskin cap held over his heart. "The Cradle of Liberty," he said in a quiet voice. "God bless our country and the men who made this country free."

From one city to another Davy traveled. He was enjoying the boisterous and cheering crowds. But he was learning about the country, too.

Davy traveled to New York, Baltimore, Providence, Lowell, and many other cities. He traveled by steamer, stagecoach, and had his first ride on a railroad train. Everything that was new excited and thrilled him.

Davy returned to Congress for the close of the session. Then he returned to his Obion River home.

Elizabeth and the children listened breathlessly to the stories of Davy's eastern trip. The neighbors crowded into the small cabin. They listened and asked questions, too.

"Yes, the other sections of our country are very different," he said as he answered their questions. "But everywhere I traveled I saw again and again why our country is free."

"What do you mean?" asked Elizabeth.

"I mean that all of us are Americans. We are a proud, strong, and free people. And we are growing with our country. There is nothing we cannot do as long as we are united, strong, and free."

"And what about Texas?" asked one of the men.

"Texas is the new frontier," answered Davy. "The people there are not fully united, but when they are, they, too, will be free."

Davy made frequent trips to Jackson to learn the news. Everyone was talking about Texas and Santa Anna, the Mexican General, Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin, and the fight for freedom. Davy listened quietly. "When the Texans are all united, they will be free," he said to himself.

In 1835 Davy ran again for Congress. He made his speeches with courage and firmness. He told his audiences of a New America.

"This is my last speech. Soon I will go to my log cabin. If you reëlect me as your representative I promise that I will serve you as I served you before. I have been true to you and to myself."

The crowd cheered and shouted, "Davy Crockett! Davy Crockett!"

Davy held his coonskin cap high. He waved to the crowd.

He called, "Go ahead, America!"

1. In what different ways did Davy travel down East?

2. Name three important events on this trip.

3. What did Davy say about Americans?

4. What did he say was necessary for Texas to be free?

5. To what country did Texas belong at that time?

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