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Richard Olney

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Portrait of U.S. Secretary of State Richard Olney

Richard Olney (September 15, 1835April 8, 1917) was an American statesman. He served as both United States Attorney General and Secretary of State under President Grover Cleveland.

He was born at Oxford, Massachusetts, and studied at Brown University (Class of 1856), and Harvard Law School (Class of 1858). In 1859 he began the practice of law at Boston, Massachusetts, and attained a high position at the bar. He served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1874, and in March 1893 became Attorney General of the United States in the cabinet of Cleveland. In this position, during the strike of the railway employees in Chicago in 1894, he instructed the district attorneys to secure from the Federal Courts writs of injunction restraining the strikers from acts of violence, and thus set a precedent for "government by injunction." He also advised the use of Federal troops to quell the disturbances in the city, on the ground that the government must prevent interference with its mails and with the general railway transportation between the states. Upon the death of Secretary of State Walter Q. Gresham, Olney succeeded him as secretary of state on the loth of June 1895. He became specially prominent in the controversy with United Kingdom concerning the boundary dispute between the British and Venezuelan governments, and in his correspondence with Lord Salisbury gave an extended interpretation to the Monroe Doctrine which went considerably beyond previous statements on the subject. In 1897, at the expiration of President Cleveland's term, he returned to the practice of the law.



Preceded by:
William H.H. Miller
United States Attorney General
1893–1895
Succeeded by:
Judson Harmon
Preceded by:
Walter Q. Gresham
United States Secretary of State
1895–1897
Succeeded by:
John Sherman

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