CROCKETT'S ALMANAC. Philadelphia, New York, Boston and Baltimore: Fisher & Brothers, 1841; 1847, and 1852.

The Theodore H. Koundakjian Collection of American Humour

Davey Crockett, pioneer, frontiersman, politician, and martyr, remains a legendary figure in American history. The sheer density of fact, and particularly fiction, about the man "in the coonskin cap" clouds our understanding of this mythic figure. The Crockett Almanacs, while valued for their early examples of American folklore and humor, are also replete with racist, sexist, bigoted, nativistic observations and language. Few racial or ethnic groups escape the unknown authors of these rare works, and Indians are referred to as "red niggers," "a pesky set of hethens," "red skin varmints," "pesky cowards," and "injun savages."

A Rare Economy, CROCKETT'S ALMANAC, 1841
A Rare Economy
[xPN6157 K6 C939 1841 p. 7]

This hand-colored image of Davey Crockett shooting an Indian out of a tree illustrates a short story about a "Cherokee war party, what had been seducing away our hosses and cavorting among our wimmen . . ." Crockett pursued the Indians and found himself facing a taunting foe from a long distance. He responded by shooting his adversary so that the "screeching varmint tumbled out of the tree" and the "Ingins hide war not broke and not a drop of blood had come from him. . ."

Crockett Boiling a Dead Indian, andC., For His Sick Bear, CROCKETT'S ALMANAC, 1847
Crockett Boiling a Dead Indian,
&C., For His Sick Bear
[xPN6157 K6 C943 1847]

The short essay, "Crockett Boiling a Dead Indian, &C., For His Sick Bear," demonstrates the use of the "injun" as a vehicle for comedy, with no regard for the Indian as a human being.

"Won day, when my wife went out to a tea squall, she got into a holler tree out of the way of the rain; and while she was in thar she found a beautiful nest o' young bares. She put one into her pocket, as she wat sometimes lonesome, when I war off hunting, and she had only fifteen cats, and wanted a bear by way of variety, as we sometimes take a glass of water instead of whiskey, jest for a change. The bear staid with us till he growed up, an was alwais treated as won of the family. He used to set up to table with us, and you ought to have seen the way he would put his paw into the soop and feel all down to the bottom of the bowl to get hold of a bit of meat or a pertator. But he took a bad cold won day on account of getting wet feet an I was obleeged to hunt up sumthing delicate for the creter as he had a bad breth – an showed simtums of a bowel complaint. So I went out an shot an injun, an sauced him up with tender varmits, sitch as toads, lizards, a crocodile's tail, and other spurious vegetables, that was calculated to set well on a delicate stumack, and I biled ‘em together, with directions to give the patient half a peck every two hours, and the bare got well directly."

An Indian Hunter, Riding on a Tame Buffalo, Attacked by a California Tiger, CROCKETT'S ALMANAC, 1852
An Indian Hunter, Riding on a Tame Buffalo,
Attacked by a California Tiger
[xPN6157 K6 C944 1852 back cover]

The cover of this 1852 edition of the Almanac promises its readers articles, illustrations, and information "Containing Life, Manners and Adventures in the Back Woods, and Rows, Sprees, and Scrapes on the Western Frontier." The action-filled image on the back cover offers residents of the eastern United States a supposed glimpse of the wild and wondrous "animals" of the American West.

One historian described the Crockett-Indian relationships as "a pornography of racism and violence that hides beneath itself an epistemology of fear and fascination." On the rare occasion when Crockett looks upon Indians with anything less than pure hatred, his observations continue to feed upon common stereotypes. In describing an Indian brave and his small daughters ("Indian Notions"), Crockett states, "They lookt more like human creturs with human feelings, than any of the breed that I ever noed before."

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