… is from pages 263-264 of the 2009 Revised Edition of Thomas Sowell’s Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One:
Although Britain led the world into the age of the industrial revolution, in earlier centuries Britain was one of the more technologically backward nations of Western Europe. An influx of immigrants, often refugees from religious or other persecutions but sometimes just immigrants seeking greater freedom or economic opportunity, brought to the British Isles valuable skills in industry, commerce, or finance.
These included Huguenots who created a watch industry that had never existed in Britain before, Germans who built the first pianos in Britain, and Lombards and Jews who at one time were the principal groups running London’s financial institutions. The reliability and impartiality of British law also attracted investments from continental Europe. All of this developed not only the British economy but also the British people, who eventually became by the nineteenth century the leading industrial, commercial, and financial people of the world.