In the second decade of the 19th century, the precarious state of America's transatlantic relationships began to stabilize. The War of 1812 ended, and the border status with Canada grew somewhat more settled. Turning its efforts toward the taming of an unwelcoming West, the young country faced new and less well-understood enemies. These included a vast array of indigenous Native American tribes, a general lawlessness roaming free from an absence of social protections, and Mexico's historical claims on a large swath of the westernmost portions of the continent.
The contested ownership of Texas produced hostility over the following decades in what is now the 28th American state. The threat of relocating the border with Mexico far to the south at the Rio Grande River, was seen as an American land grab of enormous proportions. The Comanche, and other large tribes of the region, forced out by farmed acreage and barbed wire fence, viewed the onslaught of American settlement in much the same way. Within these cultural and legal collisions, an outlaw culture took advantage of the structural void. The creation of the Texas Rangers, as a response to Indian retaliations and renegade assaults on the banking and transportation systems, was born of a need to react quickly. Special skills were required, and unlike the military, resourcefulness and improvisatory thinking were prized, alongside obedience to orders. Author Mike Cox described the ideal Texas Ranger as one who is "able to handle any situation without definite instruction from his commanding officer."
It is this resourcefulness, a colorful and non-conformist personality, and a sense of vigilantism that has lent the Texas Rangers a special charisma since their formation. From 19th-century newspaper articles and short stories through early films, the legend of this paramilitary organization has never been without a willing audience. The Ranger’s Bride was released in 1901, followed by The Border Ranger, and The Ranger and His Horse, over the next four years. Radio of the 1940s created a sensation with its treatment of the old Lone Ranger story. The tale continued to bloom on television with Clayton Moore as the Ranger and Jay Silverheels as his companion, Tonto. Karate champion, Chuck Norris, continued the trend with his serial titled, Walker, Texas Ranger, employing the name of a famous figure from the Rangers’ early years. Uniformly idealized, the true nature of the organization could not be accurately captured by entertainment media. The behavior of the famed citizen protectors fluctuated consistently through their almost two century existence, complete with tales of heroism, and a string of atrocities committed against the innocent.The Texas Rangers: The History and Legacy of the West’s Most Famous Law Enforcement Agency, chronicles the remarkable story of the Rangers and their place in fact, legend, and lore. Along with pictures depicting important people, places, and events, you will learn about the Texas Rangers like never before.
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