Wednesday, 28 July 2010
Detained by US Immigration . . . . . .
It didn't start off on the best footing to be honest - after an inordinately long flight - or so it seemed - I was detained for three hours by US Immigration! Held in a room with others, all Black or Arab it has to be said, watched by fully tooled-up immigration officials who were deciding whether or not to admit my fellow detainees into America. Anyway it was just a mix-up with my fingerprints not matching the ones they had on record from my previous visits, so it only took a couple of minutes to sort out once I was actually seen!
The other panel that impressed me consisted of three papers on different Welsh-American settlers, who achieved fame/notoriety to some degree or other. Wyn James from Cardiff spoke on Evan Rowland Jones, a Welshman who had a distinguished career in the Northern Yankee army during the Civil War, reaching the rank of Major, before returning home and representing Carmarthen Boroughs for the Liberal Party in the 1890s. Bill Jones, again of Cardiff, spoke on John Griffith, 'Gohebydd', a journalist for Baner ac Amserau Cymru whose letters from post-Civil war America were influential in Wales, particularly in the run-up to the 1868 Reform Act. But the most interesting of all was John Ellis' paper on Owen Rhoscomyl, a remarkable figure who spent much of the 1880s on the America Frontier living the life of a outlaw, before returning to Wales, serving in the Boer War, and being behind much of the faux pagentry at the enthronment of George, son of Edward VII, as Prince of Wales in 1906, and the National Pageant of Wales, a cheesy re-enactment of some of the more glorious moments in early Welsh history, held in Cardiff in 1909.
So a mixed conference, but a few real highlights!
We had a couple of days for sight-seeing then. Got pretty close to the White House, did the National Mall and its various monuments, and went in a couple of the big national museums, the one dedicated to Native Americans, which I thought a bit of a disapointment - didnt really give much history, for obvious reasons I guess, and the National Museum of American History, which was better - had the actual Star Spangled Banner and a really interesting section on Abraham Lincoln.
I've another trip to the States pencilled in for January 2011 - this time its the American Society for Church History conference at Boston. I'm part of a panel to showcase a new publication, the Oxford History of the British Sermon, to which I'm contributing. I think I've said I'll give a paper on George Whitefield and his role in forming modern evangelical preaching.
Here's hoping I won't get detained by US Immigration for three hours again . . . . .