Richard Olney

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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 strikePullman strike,
in U.S. history, an important labor dispute. On May 11, 1894, workers of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago struck to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives.
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 of 1894; under it Eugene V. DebsDebs, Eugene Victor,
1855–1926, American Socialist leader, b. Terre Haute, Ind. Leaving high school to work in the railroad shops in Terre Haute, he became a railroad fireman (1871) and organized (1875) a local of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen.
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 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. AltgeldAltgeld, John Peter
, 1847–1902, American politician, governor of Illinois (1892–96), b. Germany. He was taken by his immigrant parents to Ohio, where he grew up with little formal schooling.
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 declared troops unnecessary. From 1895 to 1897 Olney was Secretary of State. He played a vigorous part in the negotiations with the British over the Venezuela Boundary DisputeVenezuela Boundary Dispute,
diplomatic controversy, notable for the tension caused between Great Britain and the United States during much of the 19th cent. Of long standing, the dispute concerned the boundary between Venezuela and British Guiana (now Guyana); the Venezuelan
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. 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 DoctrineMonroe Doctrine,
principle of American foreign policy enunciated in President James Monroe's message to Congress, Dec. 2, 1823. It initially called for an end to European intervention in the Americas, but it was later extended to justify U.S.
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See biography by H. James (1923, repr. 1971); study by G. G. Eggert (1974).

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Olney, Richard

(1835–1917) lawyer, cabinet member; born in Oxford, Mass. A brilliant if forbidding Boston lawyer (1859–93), he was President Grover Cleveland's attorney general (1893–95), best known for ending the Pullman strike led by Eugene Debs; he did, however, go on to support the rights of organized labor. As secretary of state (1895–97), he settled the boundary dispute between Venezuela and British Guiana and defended the rights of American nationals in Cuba and China. He retired to his law practice. He remains best known for setting forth (in 1895) what has become known as "the Olney corollary" to the Monroe Doctrine—namely, that "the United States is practically sovereign on this continent" [of South America].
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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