What makes a good cowboy? Is it his hat? Is it his code of conduct? A well rounded answer would probably include both of those criteria, but it most definitely must include the latter. After all, anyone can put on the duds and saunter into the sunset. But it takes someone special to exemplify the integrity and courage invoked by the American cowboy.
This idea begs the question; what historical figures might have made good cowboys, had they been born in the right era? Well, our friend Steve Lucas offers one such suggestion here.
A Good Cowboy, by Steve Lucas
While the the Declaration of Independence is certainly Thomas Jefferson’s most famous work, another writing gives us some insight into the man himself. During his life as an ambassador, Vice President, President, farmer, and inventor, Mr. Jefferson compiled a list of adages that he shared with his children and grandchildren, regarding personal behavior. Forty nine years after The Declaration was signed, its author was living out his final year and a half at his mansion on a mountain top I can see from my window near Charlottesville, Virginia. In February of 1825, he sent an abbreviated list to his friend John Smith to share with John’s son Thomas Jefferson Smith. Called a “Decalogue of canons for observation in practical life,” the list reads as follows:
- Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
- Never spend your money before you have it.
- Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
- We never repent of having eaten too little.
- Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.
- Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
- How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened!
- Take things always by their smooth handle.
- When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.
- Never put off till tomorrow what you can do to-day.
This wisdom offered to his friend’s son almost two hundred years ago has application in our times, especially for those of us who make our living in the livestock industry. His values seem to reflect the way we should behave. All I can think to say is “Mr. Jefferson, I think you’d have made a good cowboy.”
So what do you think, would Mr. Jefferson have made a good cowboy? We certainly think so!