'VERY DIFFERENT SPRINGS OF UNEASINESS': EMIGRATION FROM WALES TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA DURING THE 1790s* IT has generally been assumed that mainly unhappy or discontented people emigrate. Historians have traditionally ascribed the reasons for this discontent to either religious or economic forces. Welsh migration to America during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries has been related to religious conditions at home, whilst nineteenth-century emigration has been regarded as inspired by economic motivation.' According to this analysis, the emigration of the 1790s was the precursor of modern emigration for chiefly economic reasons: a response to the economic hardship caused by an unbroken series of poor harvests from 1789 to 1802.2 This economic/religious typology is an over-simplification which does not take full account of the economic, geographic, demographic, social, and psychological variables which operated at the individual level of action. Recent scholarship suggests that the debate about religious or economic motivation makes little historical sense, since emigrants were motivated by a combination of reasons. Religious and economic sources of discontent were not mutually exclusive. Furthermore, concentration upon them places a disproportionate stress on conditions at home as the main impetus for migration rather than the attraction and lure of America as a focus of settlement.4 Gwyn A. Williams interprets the emigration from Wales to the United States during the 1790s in the context of an Atlantic Revolution. America, 1. David Williams, 'Some Figures Relating to Emigration from Wales', Bulletin Board of Celtic Studies, VIII (1935), 396. 2 ibid. 3 Timothy Breen and Stephen Foster, 'Moving to the New World. The Character of Early Massachusetts Immigration', William and Mary Quarterly, XXX (1973). 4 Welsh emigration during the 1790s had unique characteristics which were related to distinctive Welsh cultural, religious, political and social developments during this decade. But in terms of settlement patterns and geographical distribution, Welsh emigration to the United States was part of a more general European and American movement (led by New Englanders) that was determined by the opening up of new American frontiers in the Ohio Valley and the 'Western District' of New York: see D. W. Meinig, The Shaping of America, I (Yale, 1986), 348-70. I am grateful to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Library Company of Philadelphia which enabled me, through the award of an Arronson Summer Fellowship, to complete the research for this article. I should also like to thank Professor Glanmor Williams, who read the article in draft.