Cow Boys and Cattle Men: Class and Masculinities on the Texas Frontier, 1865-1900

Cow Boys and Cattle Men: Class and Masculinities on the Texas Frontier, 1865-1900

Cow Boys and Cattle Men: Class and Masculinities on the Texas Frontier, 1865-1900

Cow Boys and Cattle Men: Class and Masculinities on the Texas Frontier, 1865-1900

Synopsis

Why do killers deserve punishment? How should the law decide?

These are the questions Samuel H. Pillsbury seeks to answer in this important new book on the theory and practice of criminal responsibility. In an argument both traditional and fresh, Pillsbury holds that persons deserve punishment according to the evil they choose to do, regardless of their psychological capacities. Using real case examples, he offers concrete proposals for legal reform, urging that modern preoccupations with subjective aspects of wrongdoing be replaced with rules that focus more on the individual's motives.

Excerpt

We paint the history of the West, particularly Texas, in traditionally masculine terms. Men tamed the frontier, broke horses, subdued Indians, and dominated the landscape, forcing it to yield to their needs. The Old West made men. In the 1920s and 1930s, old-time cowboys looked back fondly to a time when “men were men and women weren't governors,” and argued that the movie cowboys had been over “prettified.” One chronicler from the 1940s went as far as to proclaim, “The history of West Texas is essentially the history of men.” The cowboy has become an icon of Anglo masculinity to generations of Americans. From John Wayne to the Marlboro Man, Teddy Roosevelt to George W. Bush, men have been “cowboying up” to tame both literal and figurative frontiers, and to prove their manhood and that of their country.

The masculine cowboy hero depicted in film and literature is usually a figure straddling the frontier between civilization and the wilderness, sometimes siding with the townspeople against the wilderness and sometimes with the equally mythical noble Indian savage against civilization. Whether he accepts or rejects white society, his manhood is clear, and often superior to those of the so-called respectable men around him. In real life, the historical cowboys in the early cattle industry did not conform to movie cowboy masculinity, nor did their employers and the surrounding townspeople share this image of the manly cowboy.

To examine the ways in which cowboys and cattlemen themselves defined their masculinity, we must look at the Texas cattle frontier in the late nineteenth century. Texas was the birthplace of the modern cattle industry as well as the birthplace of the cowboy. While large-scale cattle ranching spread across the Great Plains in the thirty-five years following the Civil War, it was Texans who first adapted Mexican techniques of caring for cattle from horseback, and who were some of the most prominent cattle . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.