Welsh Foundations of The American Revolution

Wales never had an Independence Day, although it has been inching towards more autonomy for the last twenty years. Welsh people, however, had a huge impact on the founding of the United States and its revolution. Thomas Jefferson writes in his autobiography: “The tradition in my father’s family was that their ancestor came to this country from Wales, and from near the mountain of Snowdon, the highest in Gr. Br.” Other founders with Welsh ancestry (some only rumored) include Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island and its religious freedom, William Penn, Sam and John Adams, James Madison, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin, and Benedict Arnold and up to a third of the signers of the Declaration of Independence (http://www.flint.umich.edu/~ellisjs/Davies.PDF). Personally, I find this unsurprising, and it explains a great deal about the willingness of the founders of the United States to stand Read more…

Religious Noncomformity in Wales

“I returned to  Bristol. I have seen no part of England so pleasant for sixty or seventy miles together as those parts of Wales I have been in. And most of the inhabitants are indeed ripe for the gospel.” These are the words of John Wesley in 1739, preaching to the Welsh about the extent to which the Church of England had strayed, and how his view, Methodism, was a return to what had been good in the Church. http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/text/chap_page.jsp?t_id=J_Wesley&c_id=3 But Methodism was hardly the first non-conformist religious view to gain a foothold in Wales.  Unlike some other travel writers (e.g. Daniel Defoe, Gerald of Wales), Wesley spoke favorably of the Welsh–probably because they were more open to his teachings–but without the usual ramblings about them being poor, uncouth, and undisciplined. Wesley’s Methodism was only the latest in a long line Read more…