This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Where "The Code of the West" came from

If you've ever seen any old western movies, you are familiar with "The Code of the West". I am a man, living in America, in the west, and I can tell you that it is still in use today.

The Code of The West is based on chivalry codes of the knights of England. In fact, a lot of American culture, including the laws, is based on English Common Law. A chivalry code is a code of behavior that is not enforced by law, but instead is enforced by those who believe in it. The good guys know who we are.

In spite of the fact that when we think of "The Old West", we imagine a lawless place, where everyone was shooting everyone else at the drop of a hat, the reality was quite different. Most men wanted to just get along, wanted to protect their homes and their families, and had no intention of stealing or killing people, even if there wasn't any official law where they lived. These good guys could recognize each other. No, they didn't always wear a white hat. They just knew how to behave.

Whether tipping your hat to a lady was based on a knight raising his face shield or not, respect for women was, and is, a very important part of The Code of The West. A man of honor did not disrespect women. He did not harm children, nor would he ever harm an animal, such as a dog, or a horse. Men of honor would only drink with other men of honor. To refuse a drink is a serious breach of The Code of the West, sending a clear message of disrespect. In the movies, you often see the good guy refuse to take a drink while talking to the bad guy. Men of honor mind their own business, don't ask a lot of questions, when they meet someone. A man extends his right hand (which is the one used for a sword) to another man, who shows mutual respect by shaking it, also with his right hand. Men shake hands standing up. Men of honor do not shake hands while sitting down, or while sitting on a horse. Some of these are small details, but they all add up.

Even though law came with statehood to places like Arizona and New Mexico, there is still a lot of "wide open spaces" and it's good to be able to recognize the good guys.
Post a Comment