A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 08, 2007
“No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on a-comin‘“

"No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on a-comin’” was the motto of Texas Ranger Bill McDonald (1852-1918). It later became a motto for the Texas Rangers themselves.


Handbook of Texas Online
MCDONALD, WILLIAM JESSE (1852-1918). William Jesse McDonald, captain of the Texas Rangers,qv son of Enoch and Eunice (Durham) McDonald, was born in Kemper County, Mississippi, on September 28, 1852. His career as a peace officer spanned nearly four decades. His father was killed at the battle of Corinth in Mississippi in 1862. “Bill Jess” moved to Texas with his mother and other relatives after the Civil War and settled on a farm near Henderson in Rusk County in 1866.
(...)
McDonald died of pneumonia at Wichita Falls on January 15, 1918, and was buried at Quanah. Engraved on his tombstone is his motto: “No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on a-comin’.”

Google Books
Captain Bill McDonald Texas Ranger:
A Story of Frontier Reform
by Albert Bigelow Paine
New York: J. J. Little & Ives Co.
1909
Pg. 79:
“If you wilt of falter he will kill you,” he has often said, “but if you go straight at him and never give him time to get to cover, or to think, he will weaken ninety-nine times in a hundred. No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on a-comin’. I made up my mind to that long ago, and I’ve never made a mistake yet.”

Here in homely vernacular is expressed a mighty truth. Crime is always coward and cannot stand against the conviction of right. Error cannot survive in the face of truth that does not falter and “keeps on a-comin’.”

Texas Department of Public Safety
One Riot, One Ranger

The law authorized four Ranger companies of a maximum of 20 men each. The career of Company “B” Captain W. J. McDonald, and a book written about him, added much to the Ranger legend, including two of its most famous sayings.

The often cited “One Riot, One Ranger” appears to be based on several statements attributed to Captain McDonald by Albert Bigelow Paine in his classic book, Captain Bill McDonald: Texas Ranger. When sent to Dallas to prevent a scheduled prize-fight, McDonald supposedly was greeted at the train station by the city’s anxious mayor, who asked: “Where are the others?”

To that, McDonald is said to have replied, “Hell! ain’t I enough? There’s only one prize-fight!”

And on the title page of Paine’s 1909 book on McDonald are 19 words labeled as Captain McDonald’s creed: “No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on a-comin.” Those words have evolved into the Ranger creed. 

Google Books
The Last Mountain Man: The Legend Is Born
by William W. Johnstone
New York: Zebra Books
2000
Pg. 199:
It has been said that it’s hard to stop a man who knows he’s in the right and just keeps on coming. 

Google Books
Gunslinger: Genesis
by Mark Tufts
Xlibris Corporation
2001
Pg. 180:
“I’ll always remember a line I read in one of those western novels when I was a kid.”

“Yeah, what is it?” He interrupted impatiently.

“You can’t stop a man who knows he’s in the right, and just keeps a coming.”

4 November 1922, Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, WI), “Frederick Jackson Turner in Yale Review,” pg. 18, col. 5:
Popular speech reveals our sectionalism, not only in matters of pronunciation, idioms, and so on, but also in the mental attitude that underlies the expressions. When we hear that “no man in the wrong can stand up against the fellow that’s in the right and keeps on a-comin’,” we know that we aren’t in New England in spite of the moral flavor, and we suspect that we may be in Texas. 

26 January 1925, Charleston (WV) Gazette, pg. 4, col. 7:
This Ranger was Capt. Bill McDonald, one of the most distinguished of all the corps. It was his reiterated gospel that “No man in the wrong can stand up against a man who’s in the right and keeps on a-coming.”

27 January 1929, Oakland (CA) Tribune, “The Tales of the Texas Rangers,” magazine, pg. ?:
Captain Bill formulated his creed early in his career and never forsook it. It was, “No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on a-comin’.”

7 June 1936, Galveston (TX) Daily News, “Trailing Bad Men With Ranger Bill McDonald,” pg. 15, col. 6:
His philosophy he explained when he said “No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on a-comin’.”

20 August 1967, Austin (TX) American-Statesman, pg. A16, col. 1:
They knew what massed behind McDonald; one day, the Ranger put it into creed:

“No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right...and keeps on a-comin’.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Monday, January 08, 2007 • Permalink