August 26, 1876, Sacramento Daily Union
America Discovered by the Welsh in 1170 A.D.
By Rev. Benjamin F. Bowen.
Philadelphia: J. B. Lipplncott & Son.
San Francisco: A. Roman & Co.
The writer has taken considerable pains and accumulated much interesting information in the preparation of this work. He begins by showing the energetic, expansive character of the Cymric race (the Welsh), forgetting to mention the fact, however, that that is the common characteristic of all the Japhetic tribes, of which the Cymri are but one. He then shows from old Welsh records that Madoc, one of the seventeen sons of Owain Gwinedd, to avoid the disturbances which arose among his brothers alter the death of their father, sailed to the westward, and after having been gone some time, returned and brought word that he had found a fair land, many days' sail distant, had left some of his people there and returned to get more, who should go and settle in this new country.
Enough to fill ten ships were prevailed on to go. They never returned, nor was there any further course between Wales and the new-country. He then takes up, one by one, the letters and accounts of many independent witnesses, who testify severally that Welsh-speaking Indians had been heard of, were reported to exist, had been seen, conversed with, lived with, preached to; the different writers being more or less explicit. They, or traces of them, were found in Western New York and Pennsylvania, in Ohio, Kentucky, and more especially far up the Missouri river. Some of these narratives are definite and and impart conviction; others are vague, but all are singularly harmonious.
The close resemblance of many Indian words to what might be their Welsh equivalents is noted: as Pontigo, Ponty-go, "the Smith's Bridge;" Allegeni, alli-geni, "mighty born;" Nanticok, nanty-cwch, "a curved brook," etc. But it should be remembered that similarity of sound in language does not imply necessary connection in origin, but only strengthens the plea for such connection, when there are other grounds for accepting it.
The mounds that are found in various parts of the country, especially in the Ohio valley, and which all theorists agree in assigning to a higher race of men than the ordinary Indian tribes, are also seized upon by our author. He finds their shape to coincide exactly with that of ancient Welsh fortifications. Be supposes the adventurous companions of Madoc and their descendants to have penetrated from the coast further and further into the interior, driven either by their own spirit of enterprise or by wars with the primitive inhabitants. He notes the fact that the age of the trees growing on the most eastern of these mounds is about 700 years, corresponding nearly to the era of the Madocian immigration, and that the age of such trees diminishes towards the West, indicating the gradual introgression of the Welsh. We confess to a leaning to this theory to account for those curious remains on purely scientific grounds, rather than those which assign to them a pre-Adamic origin and date.
Altogether, the argument of the author is tolerably well built up, and is sustained by an unexpected and not wholly unconvincing amount of evidence. But we think he claims too much. It may be true that the Welsh came to this country in A. D. 1170, or even earlier, but even then they found other people already here. They cannot claim, therefore, to have been the discoverers of America, either in the sense of being the first human beiugs to find it, or in having opened it up to the world, since the world at large was none the wiser or better off for their expedition. In the latter sense Columbus can still hold his claim to the glory of the discovery. In another sense still more truly does this glory belong to him. He was the first who both reasoned out a priori the necessary existence of a Western coast of the Atlantic Ocean, and proved his reasoning by the result of his voyage of investigation. For the persecuted Genoese captain who arrived at the truth by a logical process and forced the benefits of this truth upon a reluctant Old World must still be given the praise of discovering the New World.
The Welsh may have found America, as other savage men did before them; however, Columbus invented America.