Many of our American visitors will be familiar with the story of Madoc, a prince of Wales who, in the twelfth century, is supposed to have discovered America. The story first appears in A True Reporte, written by Sir George Peckham in 1583. This document supported the first Queen Elizabeth's claim to the New World. It was repeated in Humphrey Llwyd's Historie of Cambria the next year. In 1810, John Sevier, one of the founders of Tennessee wrote about a belief among the Cherokee Indians that there had been a Welsh-speaking Indian tribe. Their chieftain was supposed to have told Sevier that he had heard his father and grandfather speak of a people called the Welsh, and that they had crossed the seas and landed at Mobile in Alabama.
Welsh scholars have been long been sceptical, especially since the Madoc
story was promoted in the 19th century by the bard Iolo Morganwg, someone
not renowned for his devotion to accuracy in the sphere of history. For
many Welshmen, however, the story has long had a certain resonance and
Professor Hartmann tells us that "On January 13th 1804, an American President
of Welsh ancestry, Thomas Jefferson, despatched a letter to another Welsh-American,
Meriwether Lewis, containing a map of the Upper Missouri valley.
The map had been prepared by a third Welsh-American, John Evans."