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Killed Him a Bear: Wildlife and the Man

JON T. COLEMAN
Environmental History
Vol. 16, No. 3 (JULY 2011), pp. 408-412
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23049818
Page Count: 5
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Killed Him a Bear: Wildlife and the Man
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Abstract

This article targets the political autobiography of David Crockett to uncover the connections between wild animals, African-American slaves, and folksy white power in Jacksonian America. Coleman argues that just as you cannot underestimate the havoc Euro-Americans wreaked on some North American wildlife populations, you cannot oversimplify the causes or the meanings of this violence. Crockett killed bears—lots of bears. But he also created a persona that capitalized on its proximity to vermin animals and bound humans. To win elections, he needed to be perceived as an outsider. His close associations with black bears and black slaves helped marginalize and empower him.

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