A Meeting With Horatio Bunce Converts Davy Crockett to a Constitutional Congressman

Anyone who has seen the Disney classic Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier knows that he was a Congressman from Tennessee. After serving a term in Congress Davy Crockett met a man by the name of Horatio Bunce. The story of this meeting, as portrayed in the book, The Life of Colonel David Crockett, by Edward S. Ellis, illustrates two important points in the battle to regain Constitutional law in the American republic.

Davy Crockett rode up to a farmer plowing his field to ask for his vote in the upcoming election. As he began to introduce himself the farmer stopped him short, explaining that he knew who he was, and that he had actually voted for him the last time that he ran for Congress. Mr. Bunce then told him in no uncertain terms that he would never vote for him again.

Crockett was taken aback, as any politician would be, and he asked Mr. Bunce to explain the problem. Horatio explained to him that he would not give his vote to any man who misunderstands or disregards the Constitution. It was obvious to him that one of two were true about Colonel Crockett. He told Davy Crockett that it is more dangerous for a man to misinterpret the power that he is called to observe than for a man to wield power dishonestly, sharing that he believed Colonel Crockett to be an honest man.

Davy Crockett agreed with Horatio Bunce in all he said, but protested that he must be mistaken, because there were no votes in the last session of Congress on any Constitutional issue, that he could recall. Mr. Bunce then reminded Davy Crockett that he had voted to appropriate relief from the treasury to victims of a fire in Georgetown. Crockett admitted that he did, and again protested that he thought that would be the last vote that would cause him any trouble from his constituents.

To this Horatio Bunce asked the Colonel where he found any authority in the Constitution to appropriate money from the general treasury for charitable purposes? Once again the backwoods farmer convinced the Congressman of his error, but again Davey Crockett protested, claiming that the amount was so small and the treasury so full that, if Mr. Bunce, had he been there, he wouldn’t have acted any differently than he himself had acted.

The reply of Horatio Bunce to this is quite enlightening:

“It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle…The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man…No, colonel, 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.”

Davy Crockett changed his position, and asked forgiveness of Horatio Bunce. This story reveals how far the American government has strayed from the Constitution, exposing the immorality of stealing the people’s money under the guise of charity. But more importantly, this story illustrates the answer to America’s Constitutional woes – The backwoods farmer understood his Constitution and was willing to defend it with the power of his tongue and the power of his vote.