Today I have a very special article, just for you! The honor code of the Wild West…Oh my! 

I’m sure you know, darling, that especially during the Western Era there were many, really many unwritten laws. What you may not know until now, though, is that if those rules were broken, there would be some kind of punishment! It could be acquiring a bad reputation, lack of respect, tarring and feathering…And of course a fight. Because after all, it’s the Old West!

How Did It Start?

I’m talking about the “no written” code. Cowboys had a hard life, but their code was all about justice, loyalty, respect, hospitality and protection of their lands. 

The lack of any written laws during the Frontier Era was a huge problem. Especially when newcomers and settlers were coming, searching for a better life, a business opportunity and probably a piece of land. I think you can imagine what chaos this lack of laws caused. 

And that’s how unwritten and unbreakable rules started in what we call today the Code of the West!

So What Exactly Was the Code of the West?

This Code had to do with people’s moral aspect. This unwritten code was in fact rules of behavior. Ethics. The code was unbreakable and it didn’t matter  that they were never written. They weren’t official laws, but I can assure you that a man of that era would never dare to break any of them. Basically it was the agreement of a man of the West to obey certain behavior rules.

Which Were Those Rules?

Below, I will present you some of the rules of this “no written” code. I will be happy to receive your comments about these! Pick one (or more, dear, it will be my pleasure) and leave a comment  after the article! 😉

So let’s get started!

  1. Never steal a man’s horse.

    And wait for it…perhaps the punishment for horse thieves was death! Horses were very important to people during the western era. They were something like sacred. That’s why the horseshoe was considered good luck…it was the cowboy’s lucky charm!

  2. Do not use someone’s past to judge him. What really matters is his present.

    That was a really good one! Unfortunately, I’m not so sure whether this rule was followed or not…but that’s my personal opinion.

  3. At the dining table, guns are forbidden.

    Well, it does make sense! I honestly wouldn’t be very happy to have dinner with my husband…and his rifle! We all need a peaceful moment when eating properly!

  4. When a man wants to greet another one, but he is coming from behind, he should make a loud noise before he approaches.

    Of course. Or else he would probably be shot. Old West, my dear! Old West!

  5. When someone rides another’s horse without his permission, it is like stealing his wife.

    As you understand, no one could touch another man’s horse. What did I tell you about horses during the Western Era? Yes, you got it!



  6. When drinking whiskey, a man should fill the glass to the brim. 

    Got it. Cowboys were tough and they also drank tough. 

  7. Among friends, a cowman should hold his glass and drink his whiskey with the same hand he uses his gun. 

    This way, they were able to show their friendly intentions. And avoid many fights, misunderstandings and shootings, as well.

  8. A man should never wear another’s hat. Not even try to do it.
     
    Rules are rules.

  9. When someone needs help or is wandering around, a true cowboy should open his house and invite him to dinner. 

    Hospitality, my dear!

  10. Even enemies deserve a proper fighting chance.

    That would mean justice. Place, time, no cheating. It’s a date.



  11. A cowboy should be loyal to his friends, family and people with whom he rides. 

    Yup. Loyalty!

  12. It is not allowed for a man to shoot a woman was not allowed. 

    No comments. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this one!

  13. To shoot an unarmed or and unwarned enemy is not allowed. 

    That makes sense. Otherwise, it would be cheating. And cheating was considered really bad and wrong during the time.

  14. A man should always respect and protect his land. 

    He should treat his land and home with respect. That would mean no fires, no rock or tree disfiguring, no destruction of nature or the landscape. If you treated your land with disrespect, you were not a real cowboy.



  15. Honesty. 

    Their handshakes were their contracts. Men of honor. Their words were their bonds.

That’s It For Now, Dear!

As I said before, if a man broke these rules, there would be punishment. According to his fellas, “he wasn’t a man”. Since the rules weren’t “official” or “written”there wasn’t certain punishment. But, the man who broke them would obtain a really bad reputation. He would become a social outcast, without any sign of honor. I think it was fair enough. Except this rule about the whiskey! 😉

It seems that our beloved Wild West, despite the difficulties and the harsh way of life, had a more…sensitive side. I feel the moral code proves it. 

Those men based their behavior on love, respect, loyalty and honor. It is remarkable, don’t you think?

Hope you enjoyed my article and learned something new today! Have an amazing day! Thank you for staying with me until the very end!

I look forward to your comments, or e-mails! You know where to find me! Until then, farewell!



Written by Clarice Mayfield

 

34 COMMENTS

  1. Well I’m replying to the one about not shooting a woman. I’m a woman and I don’t think it’d be very nice of me to not expect to be shot if I’m trying to shoot a man. That’s my opinion if a woman attempted to shoot a man the man should be allowed to shoot only maybe not to kill but to hurt so the woman would drop the gun. But if absolutely necessary then oh well she asked for it. Again my opinion as a woman. Probably not very many women would agree.

  2. Several of the rules remain today but as in the West there is some that make up their own rules and are all for self.your article is informative

  3. Regarding rule 12 women were to be protected and honored as they were considered a weaker sex. The women would not have been able to defend herself against men as well as another man could.

  4. Beautifully explained Its just sad that todays behaviors are not written or understood like these
    My take away is R E S P E C T we do not have it any more and it make me so sad

  5. Thank you! It all boils down to one word: integrity. Something that seems to be a forgotten concept these days.
    A good horse often meant the difference between life and death. No wonder horse theft was a hanging offense. VERY few exceptions were accepted.
    There were some exceptions to the no shooting women rule. If she was shooting at you and didn’t stop when you identified yourself, most would try to shoot back only to keep her pinned down until out of range. Sometimes shooting to disarm her was necessary. Killing a woman or child “just wasn’t done” not by a man who called himself a man.
    The bring up drink was to prove you got your money’s worth. Using your gun hand could be misleading. Most good shooters practice with their “off” hand as well as their dominant hand. Again life and death might depend on it.
    I married a cowboy 43+ years ago. I know lots of cowboys. The rules still apply.
    Take care of your land and it will take care of you was not just a saying. It was a way of life. Family lands were family lands for generations. (Still are)

  6. Most, if not all of these I wish were being practiced today. With the possible exception of shooting a woman? Some women deserve shooting (as of course do some men!) I find today’s world busy making judgements based on today’s knowledge about events that happened 40 or 50 years ago and it really bothers me.

  7. Thank you for sharing
    Don’t you think it interesting that it appears if women were smart they had control of their lives to some extent
    and man could not retaliate without appearing ungentlemanly?
    Kind regards
    Lyn

  8. Simple rules to live by even though they were never written down. Honour is all & cheating is a very big sin. Never to shoot a woman? Well, what if she is holding a gun on you or has shot you already? I think such a rule is easily wavered in such circumstances. Here is Australia, our outback people & our famous bushrangers held similar values & played fair most of the time. As I have already said, Honour is all.

  9. I love all of the information that you give. I was raised and still live in Arkansas and most of the rules are still alive (at least among the people that were raised right). You always watch out for your neighbor. Women and children are treated with respect. Respect for yourself and those around you. Take care of your home and animals. Today it seems that most people don’t respect them selves, much less other people.

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