Yes, I know he was a cattle thief. But, hear me out. Trampas was actually the hero of Owen Wister’s 1902 novel, The Virginian.

Yes, the Virginian, the character the Virginian is a pretty cool guy. He works for the Judge, so it seems like he’s working in the service of justice, which I agree is a pretty good thing.

But think about the last page. Wyoming ultimately was unsustainable for cattle ranching and the herds, and the cowboys, had to move out. Why, but because cattle ranching in the methods and means shown forth in the novel in Wyoming was unsustainable. And not just unsustainable, but exploitative of the land. Cattle ranching like it was portrayed by Wister was going to die off eventually. Trampas and his associates (I like that word; it feels less accusatory) were just hastening the process.

In fact, they weren’t just hastening the process of dissolution of exploitative cattle ranching, but Trampas and his friends were part of a glorious movement of social justice Trampas and his friends were saving the Wyoming environment for the future, liberating poor cattle from certain death, and even defending* election integrity in Wyoming centuries before it became a popular issue.

Furthermore, why do we assume Wister was portraying Trampas fairly? Every author has their biases. Trampas was actually probably a pretty nice guy. Hey, he was obviously a good card player.

Yeah, Trampas was actually the hero of the novel. Fighting for the poor against rich cattle barons like the judge, fighting for the environment against future coal and oil executives like the Virginian (who did own a mine at the end of the story), and fighting for the future of cattle against an exploitative capitalist system led by the Judge and the Virginian. Trampas was the hero, change my mind.