"The Wish for a White West: Welsh Indians and the Early Republic"
Edward Watts, Michigan State University
In 1576, John Dee claimed that Prince Madoc of Wales colonized North America in 1170. Via the “Doctrine of Discovery” and England’s absorption of Wales, Dee voided Spanish claims and justified British colonization. The legend resurfaced in the 1790s, when Anglo-Americans claimed western lands, the Mississippi valley. Now, the Mandan and other distant tribes Indians were identified as Welsh, despite the lack of any real evidence. This seminar will study how the Madoc legend generated debates concerning European rights to American land between 1790 and 1820, and how the premise of pre-Columbian whites was used to invalidate Indian claims to indigeneity and aboriginality by imagining an alternative white antiquity.
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