Migration Control in the North Atlantic World: The Evolution of State Practices in Europe and the United States from the French Revolution to the Inter-War Period

By Andreas Fahrmeir; Olivier Faron et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 12
Revolutionaries into Beggars
Alien Policies in the Netherlands
1814–1914

Leo Lucassen


Introduction

An important invention of the French Revolution was the passport system, devised to control the movement of both internal and external migrants (Torpey 2000).1 One of the consequences of this new monitoring device, which is closely linked to the shift from indirect to direct rule, was that aliens were defined at a national level, as citizens of another state (Noiriel 1988: 71). Notwithstanding the importance of this redefinition of the aliens concept, several scholars have argued that this did not automatically imply that from then on the state was able to control migration. Not unlike its neighbours during the nineteenth century, the French state was rather weak and not able to live up to its totalitarian image. The aspirations and claims of the national state that replaced the old corporate order were often much broader than what could be achieved in practice. The bureaucracy of the national state was still very small and the implementation of national laws and regulations at the local level was far from successful.

In the course of the nineteenth century the power of the state to regulate and monitor society, in order to make it ‘legible’, to use the imagery of James Scott (Scott 1998), increased. Albeit slowly, partially and not always straightforwardly, the awareness that the state had to take some responsibility for social issues, gained ground. One of the consequences was that immigrants from other countries were increasingly regarded as potential

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