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Harold McCracken, a noted authority on the cowboys of west once wrote, “These men developed some very highly commendable principles that were respected and considered a part of their relationships among themselves as well as those regarded as outsiders. This code was stringently followed. Their rules of ethics were few and simple. A man’s word was his bond and binding. This, incidentally, was not restricted to the cowboys in those early days of the West, when a handshake was all that was needed to seal a bargain.... Another respected rule of relationships was fidelity of friendships. A friend should never be forsaken, especially in times of great need or danger; and a double-cross was a cardinal sin in their unwritten book of unnumbered commandments. There was hardly a typical type by which to identify them [cowboys]. There were tall and skinny ones as well as short and robust ones, but they all had certain characteristics in common. One of their most distinctive attributes was their pungent, humorous, and almost caustic vernacular; and they had a large vocabulary of profanity, which was seldom used in a vulgar or obnoxious manner. There was also a sentience of pathos, born of their dedication to a life in which having a wife and family were not compatible. In the later period when all things changed, however, a good many of them settled down to enjoy the natural amenities of life; although many just retired to spend the remainder of their lives alone. The American cowboy ... was indeed a unique breed of man.”

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