The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.XIV. Travellers and Explorers, 18461900
§ 24. Cowboys
One of the primary causes of Indian difficulties was the rapid growth of the cattle and sheep industry on the Plains. The remarkably nutritive grasses which had fattened buffalo by the tens of thousands now fattened cattle and sheep in like numbers. As cattle and sheep will not feed on the same range, or rather cattle will not on a sheep range, there were clashes that were well-nigh battles between the sheep and the cattle men. Large tracts were bought or claimed, and fenced in—another cause of trouble. And still another was the character of the cattle herders. There were suddenly many of them in the later seventies. They lived in camps and for some reason they dropped to a lower state of degradation than any class of men, red or white, that the Far West had seen. Beside a full-fledged “cowboy” of the earlier period of their brief reign the Indian pales to a mere recalcitrant Quaker. With the further development of the country the cowboy became more civilized and later on he redeemed himself by writing poetry and books. The reason for this desirable transformation from debauchery to inspiration may be read in the lines:
Besides this native poetry we have some excellent prose work in this field; Ten Years a Cowboy (1908) by C. C. Post; The Log of a Cowboy (1903) by Andy Adams, as well as The Outlet by the same author, the latter relating to the great cattle drives formerly undertaken from Texas to the North-west. Charles M. Russell, the “Cowboy Artist,” who has preserved with his brush some of the thrilling pictures of this ephemeral and showy savagery, has expressed himself in a literary manner in Studies of Western Life (1890). And it is necessary to mention in this connection the drawings of Frederick Remington, as well as Owen Wister’s later classic of cowboy life, The Virginian (1905).