Buffalo Bill, Rough Riders, and the Manly Image

Brent M. Rogers and Douglas Seefeldt

Time-based Distribution of Rough Rider Press Coverage, 1893-1903

The timeline assists in the visualization of the extent to which the press covered Buffalo Bill and the Wild West show, particularly surrounding the current and historic events the show portrayed. This digital tool highlights the popularization and spreading of ideas put forth by the Wild West. Newspapers helped solidify the manly image expounded by Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World in a less direct way than promotional materials as the reporting typically reiterated the themes of the show and programs. Sources and events are situated in a time-based map for visitors to gain a point of access to, query, and interact with coverage of public rhetoric that demonstrates the evolution of the Congress of Rough Riders and associated manly ideology.

Some of these ideas concerned white supremacy to produce a racially based ideology of male power. The Congress of Rough Riders provided a visual display and the writings about it in the press a mental display, of which race had produced the combination of most powerful, virile, intelligent, and noble men. The key to engaging the public in demonstrations of ideal manhood came via comparative descriptions of members of the Congress in promotional materials and press reports of the Wild West. All delegates of the Congress received praise as remarkable, daring, and athletic in their style of horsemanship. However, Cody and other writers debased Mexicans, Arabs, North American Indians, and riders of other nationalities as wild, strange, and natural. The introduction of various Rough Riders emphasized, advocated, and demonstrated an international drama of virile manhood. While all the men demonstrated physical prowess - virile, athletic, strong, and brave - and graceful riding, they fell short of the American cowboy in overall manliness. Newspaper reports depict this clearly in writings on Roosevelt's Rough Riders in the Spanish American War. During the fighting, the Battle of San Juan Hill on July 1, 1898 became the bloodiest and most famous battle of the War, serving as the location of the greatest victory for Roosevelt's Rough Riders. The press coverage and later idealization in Buffalo Bill's Wild West of the heroic charge up San Juan Hill proved that the white American had lost none of its potent masculinity since the days of the western frontier. According to newspaper coverage of the new Wild West spectacle, Roosevelt's Rough Riders added to the already existing display of bravery and courage, and heroic American manhood in an imperial, international arena.

Scroll through the timeline for information on the introduction of and changes to the Congress of Rough Riders of the World, press coverage of Buffalo Bill's Wild West, and associated events. Click on the titles to see more. Once in the word blurb, click on the title again to see associated documents. Once in the document concept highlights will help narrate the texts in the context of the argument.