Reformist impulses, social Darwinism, and a theory of civilization shaped how nineteenth century Americans viewed Indians. The views, however, were conflicting. Government and religious progressives ran against the progressivism espoused by William F. Cody and the image the Wild West Exhibition projected. The conflicting views of Indians became publicly contested battles over who would define Indianness and Americanness.
The introduction of the Congress of Rough Riders of the World performed Cody's understanding of American and international manhood. It presented to a global public not only displays of international manhood traits and feats, but also differences in ideal manliness.
Watering the Big Horn Basin: William F. Cody and the Environmental Transformation of the American West
Following the passage of the Newlands Reclamation Act, William F. Cody relinquished his remaining irrigation projects to the newly formed United States Reclamation Service. Though Cody no longer had any control over the irrigation of the Big Horn Basin, he frequently lobbied members of the Federal Government and Reclamation Service. His efforts to use his personal prowess to influence the development of the Big Horn Basin largely failed, but his correspondence provides valuable insight into the early years of the Reclamation Service during which the control over irrigation shifted from promoters like Cody to experts and engineers.
William F. Cody, "Buffalo Bill," and the Railroads: Politics, Personalities, and Progressivism in the Development of Cody, Wyoming
William F. Cody's experience with town building in Rome, Kansas impressed upon him the vital role railroads played in the development of the American West, and led him to actively seek the support of the railroads for his town of Cody, Wyoming. Interested in securing his legacy and turning a profit by way of the image of the Old West he helped create, Cody engaged in a series of negotiations with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad for the construction of a line through Cody, Wyoming. The content and structure of these negotiations not only highlight the disparities between William F. Cody's interests and those of the CB&Q; they also illustrate the ways the shift from the Gilded Age to the Progressive Era disoriented and disadvantaged small, personality-based western entrepreneurs such as "Buffalo Bill."