Codes of the West

Compiled by Dick "Colorado" Oakes


Nat Love, a black cowboy known as Deadwood Dick, summed up the Cowboy Code this way: "There a man's work was to be done, and a man's life to be lived, and when death was to be met, he met it like a man."

Many of us, however, grew up absorbing the Code of the West from our matinee cowboys, such as Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, Wild Bill Hickok, Buck Jones, The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Tom Mix, and The Texas Rangers. Sometimes, they even spelled it out for us, so return with us now to those days of yesteryear and listen to our cowboy heroes' codes, creeds, oaths, pledges, prayers, and rules.

Gene Autry as, who else, Gene Autry Gene Autry's Cowboy Code of Honor

  1. A cowboy never takes unfair advantage -- even of an enemy.
  2. A cowboy never betrays a trust. He never goes back on his word.
  3. A cowboy always tells the truth.
  4. A cowboy is kind and gentle to small children, old folks, and animals.
  5. A cowboy is free from racial and religious intolerances.
  6. A cowboy is always helpful when someone is in trouble.
  7. A cowboy is always a good worker.
  8. A cowboy respects womanhood, his parents, and his nation's laws.
  9. A cowboy is clean about his person in thought, word, and deed.
  10. A cowboy is a Patriot.

William Boyd as Hopalong Cassidy Hopalong Cassidy's Creed for American Boys and Girls

  1. The highest badge of honor a person can wear is honesty. Be truthful at all times.
  2. Your parents are the best friends you have. Listen to them and obey their instructions.
  3. If you want to be respected, you must respect others. Show good manners in every way.
  4. Only through hard work and study can you succeed. Don't be lazy.
  5. Your good deeds always come to light. So don't boast or be a show-off.
  6. If you waste time or money today, you will regret it tomorrow. Practice thrift in all ways.
  7. Many animals are good and loyal companions. Be friendly and kind to them.
  8. A strong, healthy body is a precious gift. Be neat and clean.
  9. Our country's laws are made for your protection. Observe them carefully.
  10. Children in many foreign lands are less fortunate than you. Be glad and proud you are an American.

Wild Bill Elliott as Wild Bill Hickok Wild Bill Hickok Deputy Marshal's Code of Conduct

  1. I will be brave, but never careless.
  2. I will obey my parents. They DO know best.
  3. I will be neat and clean at all times.
  4. I will be polite and courteous.
  5. I will protect the weak and help them.
  6. I will study hard.
  7. I will be kind to animals and care for them.
  8. I will respect my flag and my country.
  9. I will attend my place of worship regularly.

Buck Jones Buck Jones Cowboy Creed

           I must be courteous and obedient to my elders.
           I must study and learn.
           I must be courageous, honest, industrious, truthful and unselfish.
           I must be a pal to my playmates and big brother (or big sister) to all boys or girls younger than myself.
           I must keep my life bright and clean.

Clayton Moore as The Lone Ranger The Lone Ranger Creed

  1. I believe that to have a friend, a man must be one.
  2. That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
  3. That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
  4. In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.
  5. That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
  6. That "this government, of the people, by the people, and for the people," shall live always.
  7. That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
  8. That sooner or later...somewhere...somehow...we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
  9. That all things change, but the truth, and the truth alone lives on forever.
  10. I believe in my Creator, my country, my fellow man.

Tom Mix The Ralston Straight Shooters Pledge of Allegiance of Tom Mix

Page 9 of the "Straight Shooter's Secret Manual" has the Straight Shooters' Pledge and a note from Tom:

"All Straight Shooters' take this Pledge of Allegiance. Read Pledge carefully so you fully understand it. Then take Pledge by reading it aloud in the presence of your father or mother. Finally, sign it in the space provided."

The Ralston Straight Shooters' Pledge of Allegiance

As a loyal American and faithful follower of Tom Mix, I pledge allegiance to his Ralston Straight Shooters of America and promise to obey, to the best of my ability, the following rules:

  1. I promise to shoot straight with my parents by obeying my father and mother, and by eating the food they want me to eat.
  2. I promise to shoot straight with my friends by telling the truth always, by being fair and square in work or play, by trying always to win, and by being a good loser if I lose.
  3. I promise to shoot straight with myself, by striving to always be at my best, by keeping my mind alert and my body strong and healthy.
  4. I promise to shoot straight with Tom Mix by regularly eating Ralston, Official Straight Shooters' Cereal, because I know Ralston is just the kind of cereal that will help build a stronger America.

I have taken the Straight Shooters' Pledge of America

Sign your name here ________________________________________

Roy Rogers Riders Club Rules Roy Rogers and Dale Evans

  1. Be neat and clean.
  2. Be courteous and polite.
  3. Always obey your parents.
  4. Protect the weak and help them.
  5. Be brave, by never take chances.
  6. Study hard, and learn all you can.
  7. Be kind to animals and care for them.
  8. Eat all your food and never waste any.
  9. Love God and go to Sunday School regularly.
  10. Always respect our flag and country.

Roy Rogers Prayer

           Lord, I reckon I'm not much just by myself,
           I fail to do a lot of things I ought to do.
           But Lord, when trails are steep and passes high,
           Help me ride it straight the whole way through.

           And when in the falling dusk I get that final call,
           I do not care how many flowers they send,
           Above all else, the happiest trail would be
           For YOU to say to me, "Let's ride, My Friend."

Harry Lauter as Clay Morgan in Tales of the Texas Rangers Texas Rangers' "Deputy Ranger" Oath

  1. Be Alert
  2. Be Obedient
  3. Defend the Weak
  4. Never Desert a Friend
  5. Never Take Unfair Advantage
  6. Be Neat
  7. Be Truthful
  8. Uphold Justice
  9. Live Cleanly
  10. Have Faith in God