Western Life

The Code of The West and The All American Cowboy

Mention the Wild West and you get visions of Clint Eastwood in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” or Gene Autry and Yul Brynner, and Charles Bronson in the “Magnificent Seven”. However, perhaps even more than that, it was Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane and other similarly colorful characters that became famous because of writers like JT Edson and Zane Gray, which led to not just the American love for the cowboy code, but its enduring popularity all over the world.

Basically, the cowboys of the wild west were supposed to respect woman and doff their caps and refer to them as ma’am and even the bad guys were supposed to do the same. They were supposed to ‘shoot fast and shoot straight’ and if the cards did not pan right then they died coughing up blood in their ‘pardner’s’ arms like real men. Their epitaphs also reflected their lifestyles such as “Here lies John Smith, cuz he don’t shoot straight” or “Robert Rodney Junior III: Dead from a case of lead poisoning (bought on by three slugs from a .45 long colt).”

Some of the more popular points of this code include the following:

Wild Bill Hickok Deputy Marshal’s Code of Conduct

Unlike Captain Dusty Fog and the floating outfit as well as other characters popularized by fiction, Wild Bill was the real Macoy. As in, he was an actual shooter from the wildest days of the American frontier and he died the way he lived – through the barrel of a gun. Shot in the head from behind, in a saloon while playing cards. This was his code:

  • I will be brave, but never careless
  • I will obey my parents. They DO know best
  • I will be neat and clean at all times
  • I will respect my flag and my country
  • I will be polite and courteous
  • I will protect the weak and help them (to the best of my abilities)
  • I will attend my place of worship regularly
  • I will study hard
  • I will be kind to animals and care for them

The Texas Rangers

However, few people can exemplify the genre as much as the Texas Rangers. Unlike Hopalong Cassady and Roy Rogers, they were not fictional characters but actually did exist in real life, and still do. (There are over 160 members in the taxes rangers service as of now).

Their motto is “One riot one ranger”. The code of the Texas Rangers of the wild west was very simple:

  • Be Alert
  • Be Obedient
  • Never Take Unfair Advantage
  • Defend the Weak
  • Never Desert a Friend
  • Be Neat
  • Have Faith in God
  • Be Truthful
  • Uphold Justice
  • Live Cleanly

These individuals fired up the imagination of generations and are still a source of inspiration to this day.

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