Davy Crockett (1786-1836) was an American frontiersman and politician who became a popular hero during the antebellum period. Born on what was then the frontier in Tennessee, Crockett served in the War of 1812 fighting the Creek Indians under Andrew Jackson and was then elected to the Tennessee state legislature. This combination of rugged frontiersman and patriotic legislator captivated the public. Yet for all his popularity, Crockett's political career was somewhat tumultuous, partly due to his early rupture with Jackson over whether squatters in western Tennessee ought to receive priority in land acquisition. The Whigs recruited Crockett to their ranks and shepherded him on speaking tours that enhanced his legend as a bear-hunting, Indian-fighting congressman. Crockett ensured his own legend with a spectacular death in the battle for Texan independence against Mexican forces at the Alamo.
In 1830, author James K. Paulding wrote "Lion of the West," a play starring Nimrod Wildfire, a character who was largely based on Davy Crockett. Wildfire (and Crockett, his real-life counterpart) provided audiences with a sort of anti-European hero whose physical strength could defeat the pretensions of his neighbors. The play was wildly popular, further elevating Crockett's reputation and character to the status of legend.