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Saturday February 6th 2016

David Crockett: On Superficiality

Democratic Thinker, Weekly Story

In 1833, writer James Strange French anonymously publishes a biography of David Crockett illustrating the Colonel’s character through one of his anecdotes.

Therefore, be wide awake—look sharp—and do not let him grin you out of your votes.

Sketches and Eccentricities of Col. David Crockett, of West Tennessee.




THAT Colonel Crockett could avail himself, in electioneering, of the advantages which well applied satire ensures, the following anecdote will sufficiently prove.

In the canvass of the congressional election of 18—, Mr. ***** was the colonel’s opponent—a gentleman of the most pleasing and conciliating manners—who seldom addressed a person or a company without wearing upon his countenance a peculiarly good humoured smile. The colonel, to counteract the influence of this winning attribute, thus alluded to it in a stump speech:

“Yes, gentlemen, he may get some votes by grinning, for he can out-grin me, and you know I ain’t slow—and to prove to you that I am not, I will tell you an anecdote. I was concerned myself—and I was fooled a little of the wickedest. You all know I love hunting. Well, I discovered a long time ago that a ‘coon couldn’t stand my grin. I could bring one tumbling down from the highest tree. I never wasted powder and lead, when I wanted one of the creatures.

“Well, as I was walking out one night, a few hundred yards from my house, looking carelessly about me, I saw a ‘coon planted upon one of the highest limbs of an old tree. The night was very moony and clear, and old Ratler was with me; but Ratler won’t bark at a ‘coon—he’s a queer dog in that way. So, I thought I’d bring the lark down, in the usual way, by a grin. I set myself—and, after grinning at the ‘coon a reasonable time, found that he didn’t come down. I wondered what was the reason—and I took another steady grin at him. Still he was there. It made me a little mad; so I felt round and got an old limb about five feet long—and, planting one end upon the ground, I placed my chin upon the other, and took a rest. I then grinned my best for about five minutes—but the cursed ‘coon hung on. So, finding I could not bring him down by grinning, I determined to have him—for I thought he must be a droll chap. I went over to the house, got my axe, returned to the tree, saw the ‘coon still there, and began to cut away. Down it come, and I run forward; but d—n the ‘coon was there to be seen. I found that what I had taken for one, was a large knot upon a branch of the tree—and, upon looking at it closely, I saw that I had grinned all the bark off, and left the knot perfectly smooth.

“Now, fellow-citizens,” continued the colonel, “you must be convinced that, in the grinning line, I myself am not slow—yet, when I look upon my opponent’s countenance, I must admit that he is my superior. You must all admit it. Therefore, be wide awake—look sharp—and do not let him grin you out of your votes.”

Contributed by Democratic Thinker.