The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971

Notes and Documents
Cattlemen, Packers, and Government:
Retreating Individualism on the Texas Range
JAMES A. WILSON*
T URN-OF-THE-CENTURY TEXAS CATTLEMEN WERE DESCRIBED VARIOUS-
ly. A traveling journalist wrote of them as men of "integrity,
honor, and education." Joseph G. McCoy, the promoter of the long
drives to Kansas, saw them as endowed with "bold self-reliance" and
"superior talents." A versemaker called them "Wielders of power that
verges on the Infinite itself . . . Keepers of keys to life's most hidden
mysteries! . .. [and] master[s] of the art of arts." They pictured them-
selves as "broad in their views, brave and chivalrous in their nature,
asking only from others that which they would be willing to grant
under similar circumstances." Supposedly their life under the sun
and stars was spent in "communion with God," and it made them
"generous and hospitable, courageous and honest. . . ."' They were
these things and more, but when the tributes ceased, one fact was
undeniable: the lords of brush country and plain were capitalists
bent on profit. By the early years of the twentieth century, reminisced
Mrs. Carl G. Goodman, a Panhandle ranchman's daughter, the effort
was afoot to turn a once "fascinating sport" into a "profitable and
interesting business.""
But economic gain on the Texas range, as elsewhere in the realm of
American enterprise, required stability. That proved elusive, however,
and from the mid-i88o's to the early 192o's, its absence attended the
*The author, an associate professor of history at Southwest Texas State University,
wishes to acknowledge the financial aid provided in the preparation of this article by the
Organized Research fund, Angelo State University.
'References appear in the order of quotes cited: "Stock Interests in Texas," National
Live-Stock Journal [Chicago], XIII (September, 1882), 416; Joseph G. McCoy, Historic
Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest, ed. Ralph P. Bieber (Glendale,
1940), 381, 405; The Cattleman, XIV (January, 1928), 14; Ike T. Pryor, address before
the Trans-Mississippi Commercial Congress, Kansas City, Mo., December [?], 19o6, in
Pryor (Ike T.) Speeches, 1899-1923 (Archives, University of Texas Library, Austin), 184;
The Cattleman, II (May, 1916), 2o. In a recent autobiographical account, A. C. Greene,
a West Texan, contends that many of the characters of his youth believed that the cattle
industry was ordained by God. A Personal Country (New York, 1969), 23.
"The Cattleman, IX (March, 1923), 119.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101200/. Accessed December 28, 2014.