A drunken cowboy shoots ip a ballroom in Leadville, Colorado. The historic American cowboy of the late 19th century arose from the vaquero traditions of northern Mexico and became a figure of special significance and legend. By the late 1860s, following the American Civil War and the expansion of the cattle industry, former soldiers from both the Union and Confederacy came west, seeking work, as did large numbers of restless white men in general. A significant number of African-American freedmen also were drawn to cowboy life, in part because there was not quite as much discrimination in the w

- Image ID: JR31PT

A drunken cowboy shoots ip a ballroom in Leadville, Colorado. The historic American cowboy of the late 19th century arose from the vaquero traditions of northern Mexico and became a figure of special significance and legend. By the late 1860s, following the American Civil War and the expansion of the cattle industry, former soldiers from both the Union and Confederacy came west, seeking work, as did large numbers of restless white men in general. A significant number of African-American freedmen also were drawn to cowboy life, in part because there was not quite as much discrimination in the w

Science History Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Image ID: JR31PT