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Pacifico, David

Pacifico, David (1784–1854). The case of ‘Don Pacifico’ provided Palmerston with a great oratorical triumph. A Portuguese Jew, Pacifico was born in Gibraltar and was therefore a British subject. In 1847, while a merchant in Athens, his house was destroyed in an anti-Jewish riot. The Greek government refused compensation, believing that his claim was inflated, whereupon Palmerston sent a naval squadron to the Piraeus and seized all Greek vessels. The House of Lords censured Palmerston's actions by 169 votes to 132 but in the House of Commons, 29 June 1850, Palmerston carried the day by 310 votes to 264. His speech of 4½ hours concluded that as a Roman could say ‘Civis Romanus sum’, ‘so also a British subject, in whatever land he may be, shall feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of England will protect him against injustice and wrong’. Palmerston's stand earned him vast popularity and established his domination of politics for the rest of his life.

J. A. Cannon

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