Definite information about Welsh people who owned slaves in the United States is comparatively rare:
But this should not be interpreted so as to believe that not very many more Welsh people were slave masters during this period. We know that the American Welsh in a later period turned against slavery, and their version of the history of the United States still influences us today. There is no reason to doubt that it was true of their period, namely the middle of the 19th century, but what of the two centuries before that?
It is a very much more difficult period for a historian to analyse. Fewer records have survived compared to the 19th century, and there w as no Welsh press in America during the period. Only two Welsh communities are recorded in the Southern states in the 18th century, one in North Carolina, and the other on the banks of the Peedee river in South Carolina.
And yet, there were plenty of slave masters with Welsh surnames in the Southern states. In 1790 almost ten percent of the population of the Carolinas has Welsh surnames, and six per cent in Virginia.
We must be careful with this evidence. We cannot state for certain that everyone who had a Welsh surname was an immigrant from Wales:
William Powell was the owner of one of the first plantations near Jamestown in Virginia, but we know that he was born in England.
Roger Williams established the colony of Rhode Island, but he hailed from England as well.
However, on the basis of the evidence of the Welsh surnames we can say, hesitantly, that there were very many slave masters in the South who were either immigrants from Wales or descendants of Welsh people.
America Gaeth a'r Cymry © S4C 2006