DATELINE: Crockett & Crispus
The old muckraker TV documentary series used highest technology to examine traditional history stories. For three seasons it provided some gems of research, original and incisive.
In the first season, Unsolved History tackled two major icons of American history: Davy Crockett and Crispus Attucks on separate shows. You could not go against political correctness more than to try to tarnish the reputations of these legends.
Crockett died at the Alamo, and Attucks was killed in the Boston Massacre. One fought to the end, and one led the American Revolution. Unsolved History said, “Not so fast.”
Each contributed to building the American character of hero. And, Unsolved History questioned the notion that Crockett did not fight to the end but was executed like a criminal by General Santa Ana. Attucks, a former slave, did not lead the unarmed protestors against the British and was not the first man killed in the American Revolution, but a background figure.
The controversies, as always, were always hosted by resident historian Daniel A. Martinez, on the spot, glossing the facts.
Testing a Mexican officer’s manuscript as witness to the end of the Alamo and using satellite imagery to verify the Mexican army’s route to the Alamo, you had an interesting use of science.
In Boston, they re-created the acoustic noise of gunfire in a riot with studio sound systems and fired replica British muskets at melons to determine bullet damage. Paul Revere’s famous print is quite inaccurate.
In both cases, you had an unpopular notion that the Mexicans and British were not completely the bad guys but acted as people under duress.
Host Martinez goes a long way to suggest the heroes are not lessened by determining a different angle to their stories. And, it is fascinating business to see how science changes the past.