The Druid Connection

The question of whether people from the British Isles reached America is almost as old as the European colonization of the Americas after Columbus. John Dee, for example, helped promote the idea that the Welsh prince Madoc colonized America, all part of his scheme to justify British colonization by alleging that it predated Columbus and the Spaniards. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, claims of Irish or Celtic explorations of the Americas became popular as precedent for the then-current mass migration of Irish people to the Americas. In the nineteenth century, Eugène Beauvois brought the theme to its racist climax when he argued in a series of papers—on the flimsiest of evidence—that the Irish had not only colonized the Americas before Columbus but also converted the Natives from Mexico to Hudson's Bay to Catholicism and civilized the lot of them, until the Natives' savage natures undid their hard work. When challenged that the "true" discoverers of America might be Norse rather than Irish, he nonchalantly replied that it didn't matter because the answer "will always be European." Adding aliens to the mix doesn't really change the underlying racist origins of the ideas under discussion in this episode.

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