Olney, Jesse, 1798-1872, American geographer and teacher. His Practical System of Modern Geography (1828), a standard work for decades, revolutionized the teaching of geography. Olney's method was to familiarize students with their own environment in order to progress to the study of more distant places. He served in the Connecticut legislature for eight terms, was elected state comptroller in 1867, and wrote textbooks and a volume of poetry.
Olney, Richard, 1835-1917, American cabinet member, b. Oxford, Mass. He was a successful Boston lawyer and had served briefly in the state legislature before President Cleveland appointed him to his cabinet. As Attorney General (1893-95), he obtained an injunction against the strikers in the Pullman strike of 1894; under it Eugene V. Debs was held in contempt of court. Olney also persuaded Cleveland to send in troops to break the strike, ostensibly to prevent interference with the mails, although Gov. John P. Altgeld declared troops unnecessary. In 1895, Olney became Secretary of State. He played a vigorous part in the negotiations with the British over the Venezuela Boundary Dispute. In the course of the talks he stated flatly that the United States is "practically sovereign on this continent, and its fiat is law upon the subjects to which it confines its interposition." This principle was later supported by Theodore Roosevelt as a corollary of the Monroe Doctrine.

See biography by H. James (1923, repr. 1971); study by G. G. Eggert (1974).

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