HEREDITY IN RELATION TO CRIMINALITY
If Poverty is the mother of crime, the lack of spirit is its father. -- LABRUERE
One is invariably puzzled by reason of the time-honored controversy between hereditarians and environmentalists. It is over and over again urged that what appears to be an effect of inheritance may be due to the influence of environment. Owing to the impossibility of controlling human stock with anything like the accuracy with which one can control successive generations of mice and domesticated animals, there is no complete way out of this difficulty. No one ever becomes great -- at any rate no one ever becomes recognized as such -- without the coöperation of hereditary factors with some circumstances in one's environment. In like manner no one ever becomes small. It is impossible to conceive that Abraham Lincoln would ever have attained the moral and intellectual stature that we associate with his name had he not grown up through a period, the atmosphere of which was charged with stirring issues, and had there not occurred the peculiar constellation of political circumstances that made him the President of the United States at a most critical time. It is equally true that he could not have had the advantage of the times and circumstances if he had not possessed certain personal qualities that are commonly regarded as hereditary, such as a good physique, drive or aggressiveness, stability, and natural intelligence. All the circumstances of his time afforded releases for the abilities he had, and occasions for exercising them, and he grew in the manner or in the direction in which he was being exercised. Likewise, it was the Civil War that brought General Grant into his own, both as a strong man and as the recipient of various forms of recognition of his greatness. Inherited qualities always work together with an environment. Neither is more important than the other for the reason that both are essential to making a great character. Environment can never do it all. There is always sufficient shortage on both sides to make a struggle inevitable. There was never a time when either Lincoln or Grant could afford to lie down upon his oars.