The Cowboys’ Code of Conduct
The lack of written law on the frontier made it necessary for the cowman to frame some of his own guidelines on how to conduct himself, thus developing a rule of behavior which became known as the “Code of the West.” These homespun laws were not written into statutes, but were respected on the range. Because there was no law, pioneers who lived in and settled the west were bound by these unwritten rules which centered on hospitality, fair play, loyalty, honesty, a deep respect for the land, and a rock solid work ethic. Though the cowman might break every law of the territory, state and federal government, he took pride in upholding his own unwritten code. His failure to abide by it did not bring formal punishment, but the man who broke the code became, more or less, a social outcast.
In subsequent years, many versions of these frontier guidelines for behavior were recorded under a variety of titles. Some of these include The Code of the West, Gene Autry’s Code of Honor, Cowboy Code of Ethics, the Lone Ranger’s Creed, and Roy Rogers Riders Club Rules. The tenets of these codes are surfacing more and more in our interaction with others. We think that’s a good thing, so we decided to post our own version of it here for your consideration and perhaps adoption.
The National Day of the Cowboy
Code of Conduct for Cowboys & Cowgirls©
1. Live each day with honesty and courage.
2. Take pride in your work. Always do your best.
3. Stay curious. Study hard and learn all you can.
4. Do what has to be done and finish what you start.
5. Be tough, but fair.
6. When you make a promise, keep it.
7. Be clean in thought, word, deed, and dress.
8. Practice tolerance and understanding of others.
9. Be willing to stand up for what’s right.
10. Be an excellent steward of the land and its animals.