Ohio History Journal

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In the past three or four years there have been published

many social studies of genius. Data have been accumulated, ana-

lyzed, and interpreted; problems have been defined; and some

answers attempted.1 Underlying much of this seems to be the

criticism formulated a century ago by De Tocqueville, that Amer-

ican society, being a democracy, naturally tended to inhibit the

development of genius, individuality, and leadership.

That challenge has long since been proved unsubstantial in

fact; but the theoretical arguments are still cogent, and many

efforts have been made to resolve the paradox. In the study of

a comparatively small subject--those notable persons born within

the present boundaries of Ohio--some contribution can be made.

The size of the subject should forestall efforts to jump at con-

clusions; yet it may provide sufficient detail at least to pose new


Following the conventional procedure, a list has been made

of the persons to be included; and for convenience, it has been

taken from   the Dictionary of American Biography (New       York,

1928-1937). The thirteen thousand biographies in the Dictionary

are the epitome of American leadership. Of these, the 475 per-

sons included who were born in Ohio constitute a group accept-

able as the most eminent from the State; and probably as free

from selection as any list could be.

Who were these 475 persons of whom the study is to be

made? Although there is inevitably a certain amount of over-


1 For example, Ellery Sedgwick, "Perspectives," Atlantic Monthly (Boston),

CLI (1933), 1-11; Dumas Malone, "The Geography of American Achievement,"

Atlantic Monthly, CLIV (1934), 669-79; A. Wyatt Tilby, "The Distribution of Eng-

lish Genius Overseas," Nineteenth Century and After (London), CXVIII (1935),

77-91; Mapheus Smith, "Racial Origins of Eminent Personages," Journal of Abnormal

and Social Psychology (Boston; Albany), XXXII (1937), 63-73; Stephen S. Visher,

"Where Our Notables Came From," Scientific Monthly (New York), August, 1937,

p. 172-7