FROM THE OLD COUNTRY TO THE NEW: THE WELSH IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY AMERICA* By MALDWYN A. JONES, M.A., D.Phil. In comparison with the great waves of immigration that surged over the United States from other parts of Europe, immigration from Wales during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was small to the point of minuteness. According to United States immigration statistics, there were fewer than 90,000 Welshmen among the thirty million or so immigrants who landed at American ports between 1820 and 1950.1 The official returns undoubtedly underrate the Welsh contribution for, just as immigration officials sometimes failed to record the proper identity of other small groups, confusing Netherlanders with Germans and Ukrainians with Russians, so were they apt to count in the Welsh with the English. But even when full allowance has been made for this practice, there can be no doubt that the Welsh were never more than a minor element even in the immigration from the British Isles. Coming from the least populous of the four countries that made up the United Kingdom, they were heavily outnumbered in America not only by the Irish but also by the English and the Scots.2 Yet historians of immigration would be ill-advised to ignore small groups like the Welsh. In the first place the multiple origins and identities of the American people will be fully revealed only when scholars have examined the ways in which the distinctive cultural background of each ethnic group affected its participation in American history. Secondly, an intensive examination of the collective experience of one group may suggest hypotheses which could be helpful in studying that of others and indeed that of immigrants generally. That Welsh immigrants constituted a distinctive cultural element needs hardly to be argued. Admittedly the geographical and cultural isolation of Wales was never absolute; English influences had permeated into many areas of Welsh life. But the fact remains that, despite centuries of English attempts at assimilation, Wales still maintained an unmistakable national identity. For all the variety of This lecture was delivered at a meeting of the Flintshire Historical Society at Prestatyn on 30 October 1976. Professor J. Gwynn Williams was in the Chair. 1 Rowland T. Berthoff, British Immigrants in Industrial America, 1790-1850 (Cambridge, Mass., 1953), p. 5. 2 ibid.; Alan Conway, The Welsh in America: Letters from the Immigrants (Minneapolis, 1961), pp. 5-6.