Was there ever a “Code of the West”?

I have often heard about the “Code of the West.” Was there, in fact, a list of rules for conduct in the Old West?

Larry Dye

Fenton, Illinois

No “Code of the West” exists per se, but an ethic did develop on the frontier that came to define American character. Several traits were necessary for survival on the frontier: a man’s word is his bond, self-reliance, trust, hard work, honesty, perseverance, dependability and independence. These rules weren’t posted anywhere but were known by many.

Later, when the Old West faded from reality into myth, books, like Owen Wister’s The Virginian, and silver screen stars, like Tom Mix, Buck Jones, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and Hopalong Cassidy, introduced us to their interpretation of the “Code of the West.”

I think the Code was wonderful, because it provided a moral standard for millions of youngsters who grew up believing those time-honored values.

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