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…

The Coracle, Prince Madoc, and the Mandans

Lewis and Clark trekked up the Mississippi river in 1804 and spent the winter of 1804-05 at Ft. Mandan (present day Washburn, North Dakota).  Lewis believed that the Mandan people were descended from Madoc ap Owain Gwynedd, who purportedly sailed from the new world in 1170 after the death of his father, and to escape the murder and infighting among his brothers for the throne of Wales.  Given that all but one of his brothers ended up dead within 5 years, this might have been a good plan, all around. Now, if Madoc’s family hadn’t been associated with the Danes of Dublin, the notion of such an expedition would have been even more far-fetched.  Madoc’s great-grandmother was Ragnhild, “the daughter of Olaf of Dublin, son of King Sigtrygg Silkbeard and a member of the Hiberno-Norse Uí Ímhair dynasty. Through his mother, Read more…