"Cavalry of All Nations with 'Buffalo Bill' Leading Them." Image adapted from page 49, 1897 Official Program. Courtesy of the McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Historical Center, MS6.6.A.1.14.
The introduction of the Congress of Rough Riders of the World just outside the grounds of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, also known as the Chicago World's Fair, demonstrated Buffalo Bill's Wild West concern with the status of American manhood on a global stage. Historians have indicated that manhood and the imaginings behind it represent a dynamic process where certain men claim a certain kind of authority based on their particular social, cultural, and political circumstances as well as their physical appearance (Bederman, 7). To demonstrate white American male superiority required comparison to manhood internationally. The introduction of the Congress of Rough Riders of the World heightened public awareness of manly characteristics at a time when an influx of foreign immigration threatened white American men in male power arenas of politics and economics, while industrialization and urbanization threatened to turn American men into effeminate and over-civilized beings. In efforts to revitalize and restore American manhood against the immense challenges of the Progressive Era, the Wild West expounded the qualities of life in the West that brought health, strength, and vigor to white men. American Cowboys in the show represented the vigorous lives in advance of the outposts of civilization. Cowboys blended the "barbarous" and "virtuous" required in an age of industrialization, urbanization, and immigration; the same "Barbarian Virtues" written about in Matthew Frye Jacobson's book of the same name. Fearlessness, bravery, and strength are the keys to the masculine image of international manhood. However, the comparisons between the American horsemen and the rest of the world's equestrians reveal that American riders had something extra on their side: morality, intelligence, and connection to democratic governance. In other words, they were more civilized, more superior. For example see the Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World 1893 Official Program and the 1900 Official Program. In most comparisons made by William F. Cody, the American cowboy or cavalryman always stood as the paragon of American manliness, which also stood as the paragon of international masculinity. In this way, the Congress of Rough Riders of the World presented to the American public not only displays of international manhood traits and masculine feats, it also highlighted the differences between the members, revealing an intersection of race and manhood. With a rationale of superiority over other men in the world, Buffalo Bill's Wild West seemed to advocate imperialism and taking the American customs and governance to savage peoples across the globe. In the documents and visualizations in this section, one should find ideas highlighting the difference in peoples to emphasize a superior type and commonalities that illustrate aspects of international manhood among other concepts.