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Geography books were among the most commonly owned schoolbooks of the 19th century. Jedediah Morse published the first American geography in 1784. By the time Jesse Olney (1798-1822) wrote "A Practical System of Modern Geography," geography books were being written for increasingly younger students. The question and answer format, or catechism Smith used was common to schoolbooks of the period. Scholars learned by rote, memorizing the answer to each question exactly as it appeared in the book. Like other geography books being published by the 1820s, "A Practical System" was profusely illustrated and emphasized the economic and political superiority of the new United States. Olney's Geography also reveals American pride in their growing canal and railway systems.