Country Living Series

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Davy Crockett vs. welfare

Here is a remarkable excerpt from a book entitled "The Life of Colonel David Crockett" written by Edward S. Ellis in 1884. A reader brought this to my attention. It's long, but worth reading to the very last line.

Most of the text relates a discussion between Crockett and a farmer named Horatio Bunce on the subject of dispersing government funds to alleviate individual hardship, i.e. charity or welfare. Crockett had at first voted in favor of this in a particular instance; but after a discussion with Bunce, he profoundly changed his mind.

Some highlights:

Horatio Bunce: "Your understanding of the Constitution is very different from mine...The Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions...Where do you find in the Constitution any authority to give away the public money in charity?...Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose...You have violated the Constitution in what I consider a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people."

Davy Crockett: "There is one thing now to which I will call your attention. You remember that I proposed to give a week's pay. There are in that House many very wealthy men – men who think nothing of spending a week's pay, or a dozen of them for a dinner or a wine party when they have something to accomplish by it. Some of those same men made beautiful speeches upon the great debt of gratitude which the country owed the deceased – a debt which could not be paid by money, particularly so insignificant a sum as $10,000, when weighed against the honor of the nation. Yet not one of them responded to my proposition. Money with them is nothing but 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."


  1. Wow! I never knew that Davy Crockett had been in favor of such a thing, but my admiration of him has increased to know that he was willing to completely reverse his position on a public issue like this, when challenged by the Constitution.

  2. So why is it we have not heard of Horatio Bunce until this story? How many other patriots are unknown and unsung due to the personal preferences of historians? Those who write the history of a nation also steer that nation. How much better off would we be today if Bunce had the recognition he deserved?

    It is true, the pen is mightier than the sword. For it is the historian's pen that chooses the legacy for a nation.

    Anonymous Twit
    Rockie Mountains

  3. sounds like the houses of parliament