Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
LECTURE—THE COWBOY The cowboy as an epic figure in American culture is invented by Owen Wister in The Virginian, a novel published in 1906. (The novel is dedicated to Theodore Roosevelt, who is a friend of Wister’s.) The novel went through 15 printings in less than a year and through 9 years of dramatizations in theaters throughout the country. The real cowboy, a man mounted on a horse who patrols the range in Texas and other Great Plains states, doing ranch chores and then branding cattle and rounding them up to herd them to the railroad station to be placed in railcars and then taken to Chicago to be slaughtered, only exists between 1867 and 1885. In 1867 a man named James G. McCoy set up Abilene Kansas as a shipping station to the East. This is the place to which the cattle will be driven. The cattle ranchers hire the cowboys especially to do this long drive. The cowboy was an actual historical figure. The term “cowboy” first appeared in Ireland c. 1000 c.e., where horsemen and cattle wranglers became known as cowboys. In the 17 th century some of these cowboys fell into disfavor with their British rulers, and they were given a choice between jail and migration to the colonies. They chose the latter. Then, after the Mexican War, in the new state of Texas, there were herds of wild cattle who were the descendfants of the horses the Spanish explorers had brought with them in their original missions of conquest in the new land. Over the centuries, the horses migrated Nortward, to the plains of Texas and the Midwest. There was also much unclaimed acreage on which the cattle could be grazed. The tenniques the cowboy used (roping, branding, etc.) had been developed by Spanish vaqueros for the cattle industry in Latin America. The demise of the cowboy is due to the invention of barbed wire, which enables the ranch owners to fence in their land, and also the buildings of railroads that crisscross the nation, so that the long drive to Abilene is no longer necessary. And during his actual existence, the cowboy is not viewed as a romantic figure. He is regarded by the public as dirty, uncivilized, and lower class. He is often from the South, drawn from soldiers who fought during the Civil War.
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Page1 / 4


This preview shows document pages 1 - 2. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online