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The law and the eagle

 Item — Box: 1
Identifier: MSS 4225

Scope and Contents note

The Law and the Eagle, a two-book historical novel centered in Durango, Mexico at the time of the 1910 revolution; 892 pages, leather covers (black with natural-color leather-worked title), secured together but unbound.


  • Other: 1968-1990


Conditions Governing Access note

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use note

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from The Law and The Eagle must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

Jefferson Spivey rode a horse across America in seven months and during that time he came up with the idea of the Freedom Trail system which is an international trail system, linking Canada to the Mexican border. He was also wrote many books including The Law and the Eagle.

Jefferson Spivey was born in the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma. He was abandoned at the age of three; by the time he was 11, he had run away from two orphanages. He learned at an early age to find things out for himself. At 14, while spending time with an old ranch hand, he learned about and fell in love with Arabian horses. In his quest for freedom, Spivey began hitchhiking along the highways of the American west. As he traveled, he took on temporary jobs along the way: as a farm hand in the wheat fields of Kansas; a roughneck on the oil rigs of Oklahoma and Texas; and a cowboy, on an Oklahoma ranch. Jeff’s wandering lifestyle eventually landed him in California, where he fell in love and got married. To support his new family, he became a cab driver in Los Angeles and rented an apartment near Hollywood. His days [starting in 1968] were spent inching his way through a sea of traffic on the freeways of LA, hemmed in on all sides by angry motorists and the stifling smog. Not exactly the kind of freedom he had dreamed of. Once bound for the wide-open spaces, Spivey now found himself trapped-a victim of urban sprawl. Spivey dreamed of breaking loose, and seeing the rest of America before it was too late. While his sense of obligation [to his wife and child] tugged at him incessantly in the coming days, the call of the wild was stronger. And he began to put his plan in action. He bought an old McClellan army pack saddle, hauled it home to their tiny Hollywood apartment, hurling it over the back of the sofa, as if he were gearing up to ride. The next step was getting a horse.

With the determination of a man on a mission, Spivey managed to talk his way into an appointment with the executive secretary of [the International Arabian Horse Association], Ralph Goodall. At the meeting, Spivey spread out a map of North America on Goodall’s desk, with the route he had chosen. And he explained he needed an Arabian horse to pursue such a journey. At first, Goodall was skeptical of Spivey’s plan-he even thought it was a bit hair-brained. But the more Spivey talked about the broader benefits of his personal crusade-the publicity it could generate for the Arabian horse breed-the more interested Goodall became. Finally, Goodall agreed to help. He sent out flyers to all of the Association’s clubs, asking for someone to lend Spivey an Arabian horse for this epic adventure. The request worked, prompting George Rosenberg of Abbeville, South Carolina, to send a four year old purebred Arabian gelding, named Mr. Sol. Spivey learned early on in this trek that keeping himself and his horse safe and healthy would be a major challenge. [A life-threatening] incident on the mountain was the one that changed his life’s course and paved the way for many others like him. Perhaps it was the fear of losing his life that made him see things so much more clearly on the mountain that day. The distant purple peaks, the vast green valley below, and the endless blue sky. All this was something to be treasured and preserved. If only everyone could get a glimpse of this beauty, he thought, what a difference it would make in their lives.

Spivey thought about the bulldozers eating away at this precious wilderness. And all the millions of people who wouldn’t even know what they had missed, because they’d never traveled through it. Then he got an idea. What if a trail system could be built in each state that would link these lands together. This way, people could ride their horses through the wilderness, from coast to coast. And at that moment, the idea of the Freedom Trail system was born. Jefferson Spivey finished his ride across America in seven months, traveling 4,000 miles. And he returned to California a changed man. Soon Spivey organized an expedition and secured sponsors to launch an investigation. His objective was to determine the feasibility of forming the Freedom Trail, an international trail system, linking Canada to the Mexican border. Spivey conducted the investigation and mapped out a navigable trail. Then he began to spread the word-on horseback. This time, he owned his own Arabian horse, Najah, named after a good luck Indian talisman symbol meaning (In the Arms of God) and rode the width of the United States. With him, he carried proclamation documents, on which he obtained signatures from state governors and other local authorities in support of the Freedom trail system concept.

Over the last three decades, many states have embraced Spivey’s idea and have rallied support from many sources. One example is the Colorado Trail Foundation, a non-profit volunteer group, which began work in 1974 on a 500-mile hiking, biking, and horseback riding path. The path traverses the high country from Denver to Durango, straddling the Continental Divide. The building-and ongoing maintenance-of the Freedom Trail system has been a labor of love, involving scores of volunteers from all around the world. most recently, Spivey has written a book about his wilderness adventures. Titled Wind Drinker-a name given to him by the Indians of Arizona-the book recounts his many travels across North America.

In between making other rides and raising a family, Spivey wrote a novel, The Law and The Eagle. [The first printing of this book was in 1990 by Sooner Printing in Oklahoma]. In addition, he has written for National Geographic, Horse and Rider, Defenders of Wildlife, and other outdoor publications. He invented the knife he carried and designed the saddle he rode. His patented Sabertooth knife has been featured on the cover of national magazines and is the only knife design that has become, in and of itself, its own trademark. The Spivey Cross-Country saddle is the ultimate design for the equestrian trail enthusiast.”


1 box (0.5 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



A two-book historical novel centered in Durango, Mexico and first printed in 1990.

Custodial History note

Donated by Jefferson Spivey.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Donated; Jefferson Spivey.

Appraisal note

Utah and the American West (Collection development policy of 20th Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts, August 2007).

Processing Information note

Processed; Amanda Clark; July 2007.

Register of The law and the eagle
Amanda Clark, Karen Glenn, student processors; John M. Murphy, curator
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States