Vital Signs

J. Evetts Haley-Cowboy, Patriot

He "was a product, even more than most men are, of his time, soil and circumstance. He was an intent, practical man of driving and determined purpose. . . . But most of all he was an unreconstructed rebel." B. Byron Price, executive director of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, in his eulogy for J. Evetts Haley, chose that selection from Haley's biography George W. Littlefield, Texan. Though the passage was J. Evetts' summary of the great pioneer Texas soldier, cowman, and banker, to Price, "Mr. Haley was also describing himself."

More readers will remember my father, J. Evetts Haley, by way of his books than from all the biographies and biographical sketches about him. His published works are likely to be far more important to subsequent generations as well.

It was from my father that I first heard the admonition that "a people ignorant of their history are doomed to relive it." My father, who died at 94 on October 9, 1995, in Midland, Texas, more than any other person I have known in my more than 60 years, was aware of the mistakes of our country's past. He studied those of governments, societies, and families. His greatest hope was that he could help his family, his state, and his country avoid the stress and danger of confiscation of property, bankruptcy, revolution, and dictatorship during the generations to come.

Searching for answers was a natural...

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