Southwestern Historical Quarterly
David Crockett, the Man and the Legend. By James Atkins
Shackford. Edited by John B. Shackford. Chapel Hill (Uni-
versity of North Carolina Press), 1956. Pp. 338.
The pseudo historians, the political exploiters, the commercial
patriots, the peddlers of romantic and sentimental patriotism,
have all had their day in modeling David Crockett to suit their
purpose. At long last, however, there has been produced a thor-
oughly satisfactory and scholarly biography of Colonel David
James Atkins Shackford's purpose in writing his David Crockett,
the Man and the Legend, is clearly stated in the preface. It was
"to present an authentic biography of David Crockett against the
background of his times." Furthermore, "by presenting the real
Crockett, this study aims at correcting the time-honored version
of his life which seems first to have taken root in the legend and
literature of backwoods America more than a hundred years ago."
And finally he asserts that "so shrouded in fiction and myth and
error has Crockett become that only the most careful and pains-
taking research in all available sources can hope to capture the
man himself." Thus, the author recaptures the "Crockett God
made." Fortunately, this tremendous task, produced by the most
painstaking and voluminous research and with a sympathetic
approach, yet with an impartial analysis of Crockett the man, was
made possible and available through the final work of the author's
brother, John B. Shackford, who edited the material after the
author had been stricken with a muscular atrophy which threat-
ened his life.
Out of all the research, there emerges a David Crockett who,
in his day and to this day, and perhaps for all time, exemplifies
a definite type of American who has come out of the Western
frontier life to add something to the stature of the typical Amer-
ican. He was from the "cane" and did not belong to the "quality
folk." He and his kind emerged from the backwoods unlettered
but possessed of characteristics which first aroused only the curi-
osity of the sedate Easterners, but soon commanded their respect
and finally their admiration.
Ever since David Crockett's times there have been political
David Crocketts. He was not only the backwoodsman prototype.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101163/. Accessed March 4, 2015.