Throughout the course of the nineteenth century, Britain acted as a safe European refuge for political exiles fleeing repression on the continent. Some of those who entered the country had no doubts about Britain’s reputation for tolerance. Peter Krotopkin, the Russian anarchist, described the Union Jack as ‘the flag under which so many refugees, Russian, Italian, French, Hungarian and of all nations, had found asylum’ (quoted Holmes, 1988, p. 405). This idea of nineteenth-century tolerance towards newcomers finds support in an editorial in The Times of 19 January 1858, which declared: ‘Every civilised people on the face of the earth must be fully aware that this country is the asylum of nations, and that it would defend the asylum to the last drop of its blood.’ These assertions receive backing from the fact that between 1826 and 1848, and 1850 and 1905, Britain did not implement any statutory restrictions upon the entry of aliens (Porter, 1979, pp. 1–11). An explanation of this state of affairs might stress two facts. First, the underlying prosperity of the Victorian period. Second, the relatively small numbers of refugees involved.
- Large Influx
- Major Influx
- Statutory Restriction
- Political Refugee
- Enthusiastic Reception
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© 1993 Refugee Studies Programme
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Panayi, P. (1993). Refugees in Twentieth-century Britain: A Brief History. In: Robinson, V. (eds) The International Refugee Crisis. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-12054-3_7
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