Two of the people who attend our Saturday evening get togethers, James and Carolyn Craig, have a well-deserved reputation for their vast knowledge of Tennessee history. Last Saturday night, they told us a story about somebody you have certainly heard about. However, I feel certain you have never heard this story before.
If the politicians and state officials in Tennessee had been more familiar with some of the history of this Tennessean, perhaps a state office building, and more importantly, a man’s life, would not have been lost in 1998, only 19 years ago. This is the story James and Carolyn Craig told us about Davey Crockett, the famous frontiersman, killed at the Alamo in Texas in 1836.
Davey Crockett moved to Lawrence County, Tennessee from east Tennessee in 1817. Davey built a Grist mill alongside of Shoal Creek in Lawrence County. Davey’s Grist mill, powder mill and distillery, were all very successful. That is, successful until 1821, when a flood destroyed Davey’s mills, putting Davey Crockett out of business. It was at this location, near the entrance to Davey Crockett State Park, where the flood of 1997 destroyed the building owned by the state of Tennessee, and took a man’s life, as his car was swept away by the flood. The lesson from history had been neglected.
After the flood, Davey packed his belongings and moved to West Tennessee. Davey Crockett was elected to Congress and was campaigning for his 2nd term when he encountered a farmer. The farmer told Mr. Crockett he would not vote for Mr. Crockett again. The reason for his displeasure with Davey was because he had voted to give monies to some families in Georgetown, their homes having been destroyed by fire.
The farmer told Mr. Crockett the Constitution of the United States permits the government to have in the treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. He told Davey Crockett that the power of collecting and distributing monies at pleasure is the most dangerous power entrusted to man. He told Mr. Crockett that if he had the right to give $20,000, he could have given all the monies in the Treasury. He told Mr. Crockett Congress had no right to give charity, as it left the door wide open for fraud and corruption, as well as favoritism.
The farmer gave Davey Crockett a lesson on the United States Constitution that day. In addition, he told Davey Crockett that he took a pledge to uphold the Constitution and therefore Davey Crockett was not an honest man. Davey Crockett told the farmer he would never vote to give monies to charity again, instead he would take monies for such a purpose from his own purse first, if the farmer would give him another chance. Davey Crockett promised to never violate the United States Constitution again – and he didn’t.
Davey Crockett said this about that Tennessee Farmer: “I have known and seen much of him since that time, for I respect him. No, that is not the word – I reverence and love him more than any living man, and I go to see him two or three times every year. I will tell you, sir, if everyone who professes to be a Christian lived and acted and enjoyed it as he does, the religion of Christ would take the world by storm.”
Davey Crockett delivered a speech in which he said, “Money with Congress is trash when it is to come out of the people. But it is the one great thing for which most of them are striving, and many of them sacrifice honor, integrity, and justice to obtain it.”
Davey Crockett was more than a king of the wild frontier. He was a man of integrity and honesty, upholding the Constitution as written, after his encounter with the Tennessee farmer, who was a man who put Jesus Christ first in his own life. He thus was able to impress upon Congressman Davey Crockett what the United States Constitution was about, but more importantly, what honesty and integrity were about. Congressman like Davey Crockett don’t exist today. Perhaps if we had more Godly men willing to take a stand like that Tennessee farmer, not only could we change the government, but we could also change the world for Christ.
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