Tag Archives: Cowboy Strike

Today in Texas History – March 31

From the Annals of the Cowboys –  In 1883, a large group of Texas cowboys went on strike.  The cowboys were complaining about new working rules that were coming with the closing of the open range.  The large ranchers were imposing new conditions on their workers.  Cowboys would no longer be able to brand mavericks, keep small herds of their own, or receive part of their pay in calves.  Some ranches even forbade the cowboy from keeping his own horse which meant that if he quit he was afoot in the vast ranges of the Panhandle.  At its peak, the strikers numbered about 300 cowboys. The cowboys were unprepared for the big moneyed ranches response and plenty of men were seeking work.  It didn’t help that the big ranchers had paid off local judges and politicians.  The strike was broken within a couple of months.  The cowboys’ strike was the inspiration for Elmer Kelton’s novel The Day the Cowboys Quit.     Red recommends almost anything written by Kelton.