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Nature's Noblemen

Nature's Noblemen: Transatlantic Masculinities and the Nineteenth-Century American West

Monica Rico
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32bm3c
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  • Book Info
    Nature's Noblemen
    Book Description:

    In this fascinating book Monica Rico explores the myth of the American West in the nineteenth century as a place for men to assert their masculinity by "roughing it" in the wilderness and reveals how this myth played out in a transatlantic context. Rico uncovers the networks of elite men-British and American-who circulated between the West and the metropoles of London and New York.

    Each chapter tells the story of an individual who, by traveling these transatlantic paths, sought to resolve anxieties about class, gender, and empire in an era of profound economic and social transformation. All of the men Rico discusses-from the well known, including Theodore Roosevelt and Buffalo Bill Cody, to the comparatively obscure, such as English cattle rancher Moreton Frewen-envisioned the American West as a global space into which redemptive narratives of heroic upper-class masculinity could be written.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-19625-2
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-18)

    Three photographs: each shows a young, confident white man dressed in fringed buckskin pants and jacket, posed against a studio backdrop of papier-mâché rocks and dried grass. Two of them hold rifles. Though they are not outside, their clothing and props evoke the outdoors, the raw truths of nature and of violence. But why are they dressed as they are? Are they actors, perhaps performers in one of the many Wild West shows popular in the late nineteenth century?

    One of them, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, was (fig. 1). For a photograph taken circa 1878 Cody chose to wear...

  5. 1 SIR WILLIAM DRUMMOND STEWART AND ARISTOCRATIC MASCULINITY
    (pp. 19-44)

    InThe Adventures of Captain BonnevilleWashington Irving briefly describes a “Captain Stewart, of the British army, a gentleman of noble connexions” who “was amusing himself by a wandering tour in the Far West; in the course of which, he had lived in hunter’s style: accompanying various bands of traders, trappers, and Indians; and manifesting that relish for the wilderness that belongs to men of game spirit.”¹ Irving represents Stewart’s fondness for “wandering” and hunting as evidence of his “game spirit,” an ineffable quality that marked its possessor as masculine. Such men had an appetite, a “relish,” for the undisturbed...

  6. 2 “WHAT SHALL I DO WITH MY SON?”: MORETON FREWEN AND ARISTOCRATIC MASCULINITY ON THE RANCHING FRONTIER
    (pp. 45-82)

    Christmas, 1878. In the Big Horn Mountains of northern Wyoming the snow had drifted in places to twenty feet. Moreton and Richard Frewen were thousands of miles from their home in England. Their whiskey was a block of ice, their bacon was so frozen they had to cut it with an ax, and their horses floundered in the snow. The brothers had been warned by their guides of the foolishness of attempting to cross the mountains at that time of year, but, eager to find a site for a new cattle ranch, they had pressed on. Now, in “driving snowstorms,”...

  7. 3 GENDER AND EMPIRE: THE EARL OF DUNRAVEN AND ISABELLA BIRD IN ESTES PARK
    (pp. 83-131)

    On June 19, 1874, in Estes Park, Colorado, Griff Evans, a settler, fired a shotgun at his neighbor James Nugent. Nugent, known to the valley’s residents as Rocky Mountain Jim, was a local trapper and guide, famous in the region for surviving a ferocious grizzly attack. The Earl of Dunraven, who knew him slightly, remembered him as “an extraordinary character, civil enough when sober, but when drunk, which was as often as he could manage, violent and abusive, and given to declamation in Greek and Latin.” Fortunately for Nugent, there was a doctor staying in Estes Park, Dunraven’s friend George...

  8. 4 “THE LATEST FAD OF THESE SILLY DAYS”: BUFFALO BILL IN DARKEST LONDON
    (pp. 132-163)

    In 1887, when William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody brought the Wild West show across the Atlantic for the first time, he was already America’s most famous embodiment of the archetypal frontier hero. Taking the Wild West to London represented not only a financial risk undertaken in hopes of major profits, but also a bid for a new level of cultural legitimacy. Although several western shows had sprung up over the 1880s in imitation of Cody’s, none had toured internationally. In London, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West would claim to be the preeminent, indeed perhaps the only true, interpreter of the western...

  9. 5 A WHITE MAN’S COUNTRY: ELITE MASCULINITY, RACIAL DECLINE, AND THE FRONTIER STORIES OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT
    (pp. 164-211)

    In March 1909 Theodore Roosevelt went to Africa to hunt big game.¹ In his copious baggage was a double-barreled rifle, suitable for shooting elephants and rhinoceros, presented to him by British friends and acquaintances. The inside of the case was inscribed with a dedication “in recognition of his services on behalf of the preservation of species by means of national parks and forest reserves, and by other means,” and a list of those who had contributed to the gift. The names engraved there included Lord Curzon, the former viceroy of India, Sir Harry Johnston, the explorer and colonial administrator, Frederick...

  10. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 212-218)

    Sir William Drummond Stewart lived until 1871. He outlived his only child, George Drummond Stewart, who died in 1868. Although he never lived with his son’s mother, Christina, he did marry her and recognize their son as his heir. The Murthly estate passed to a distant cousin, but Sir William left his personal property, including most of his paintings and his collection of western artifacts, to an American he had adopted as his son, Frank Nichols Stewart. No one seems to know very much about Frank Nichols Stewart, except for two things: he was from Texas, and he took his...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 219-258)
  12. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 259-276)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 277-287)