StudyBoss » Democracy in America » The history of the American Dream

The history of the American Dream

The history of the American Dream can be traced back to 17th century when the Puritans came to America and tried to gain their religious freedom. In 1630, a speech known as the “city upon a hill” sermon was delivered by John Winthrop to the other Puritan settlers who traveled with him to Massachusetts. It is true that he didn’t describe his belief as a “dream”, he still talked about an ideal nation that gives all the people with equal opportunities to become successful through using their greatest efforts. As time moved forward, the American Dream slowly changed inside the minds of North American people. During the American Revolution, the Founding Fathers of America believed that the American Dream should be described as a natural right that everyone should have.The history of the American Dream can be traced back to 17th century when the Puritans came to America and tried to gain their religious freedom. In 1630, a speech known as the “city upon a hill” sermon was delivered by John Winthrop to the other Puritan settlers who traveled with him to Massachusetts. It is true that he didn’t describe his belief as a “dream”, he still talked about an ideal nation that gives all the people with equal opportunities to become successful through using their greatest efforts. As time moved forward, the American Dream slowly changed inside the minds of North American people. During the American Revolution, the Founding Fathers of America believed that the American Dream should be described as a natural right that everyone should have.

So in 1776, Thomas Jefferson and other authors of The Declaration of Independence defined the American Dream as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. In the 20th century, the thriving economy in this new country strengthened the impacts of the American Dream on people’s minds. Both Americans and other foreigners started to view the United States as “a land of unparalleled opportunity”. Since this country was so young and free, people were able to discover millions of business ideas and ways to bring them into a higher level. No matter what people did, it was highly possible for them to work hard and to achieve the success both financially and socially.

Thus, after traveling in the United States in the early 1800s, Alexis De Tocqueville named this American spirit as “the charm of anticipated success”. Those economic opportunities in this country significantly elevated the morale of the Americans and made them believe that they can accomplish everything and be successful be working hard. Henry David Thoreau, a great American thinker and writer described the economic opportunities and the American belief in Walden: “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours”. From Thoreau’s words, we can learn that the idea of the American Dream became really well-supported and prevalent in this new nation, although the words “American Dream” was not invented yet. During the mid- to late-1800s, the American news and literature began to use “the American Dream” extensively. These two words were usually related to the ambitious Americans who moved to the West and the Europeans who came to the United States to look for better living conditions. Before the early 1900s, the American Dream also widely used to describe the promotion of people’s social classes and the idea of becoming wealthy. In 1931, Adams published his Epic of America, and the American Dream continued to thrive in the early 1900s.

However, the “Great Depression” crashed the American Dream during the early 1930s by taking away Americans’ wealth and making them homeless. Many American people were thrown out of their homes and could only make living by begging. With such a pessimistic economic situation, the American people couldn’t regain their American Dream until Franklin D. Roosevelt became in charge and tried to save the country through the New Deal. He believed that the American Dream could be saved with the support of the government and the increase of the job opportunities. With the increase of the working population, the American economy started to recover from the crisis, and the American Dream and did. Besides the high employment rate, Franklin D. Roosevelt also tried to save the American economy and to improve people’s lives by passing the 1934 National Housing Act, which increased the building of houses. As a result, owning a house later also became an essential part of the modern American Dream. After World War II, the American Dream fully recovered, because the United States became the strongest and the most flourishing nation in the world. According to a website of American Public Media, “By 1960, roughly 60 percent of Americans owned homes, double the percentage in the 1930s. Unemployment was low and the economy was booming. The United States had a lot to look forward to in its material future”. Although the American population was merely 6 percent of the total population of the world, they utilized one-third of all the resources and products on the Earth. People had no worries with their futures and were convinced that their diligence would bring them more wealth and happiness. With the booming economy, the American Dream was also exuberant and undoubted in people’s minds.

So, the typical American Dream in the 1960s was usually described as money, employment, a happy family, and a decent house with the stereotypical “white picket fences”.In the 1990s, the definition of the American Dream changed again, because the government tried to increase the purchase of real estate. People believed that buying houses was the best method to keep the value of their money, and the ownership of houses became the new element added to the original American Dream. It is pretty obvious that people were desperate when they faced the inflation, and investing money into buying houses was one of the only solutions to maintain their indulgent lifestyles. However, the “Great Recession” in 2009 caused enormous troubles to banks and greatly dropped the stock prices. Thus, the Americans who bet their money on both real estate and financial sectors lost terribly, and morale of the country was once again put at the bottom. At the same time, the belief of the American Dream was also questioned and discussed by people. Does the American Dream still exist? How to revive the American Dream? Those questions have evoked so many discussions, and people are still looking for a way to this American spirit.

So in 1776, Thomas Jefferson and other authors of The Declaration of Independence defined the American Dream as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. In the 20th century, the thriving economy in this new country strengthened the impacts of the American Dream on people’s minds. Both Americans and other foreigners started to view the United States as “a land of unparalleled opportunity”. Since this country was so young and free, people were able to discover millions of business ideas and ways to bring them into a higher level. No matter what people did, it was highly possible for them to work hard and to achieve the success both financially and socially.

Thus, after traveling in the United States in the early 1800s, Alexis De Tocqueville named this American spirit as “the charm of anticipated success”. Those economic opportunities in this country significantly elevated the morale of the Americans and made them believe that they can accomplish everything and be successful be working hard. Henry David Thoreau, a great American thinker and writer described the economic opportunities and the American belief in Walden: “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours”. From Thoreau’s words, we can learn that the idea of the American Dream became really well-supported and prevalent in this new nation, although the words “American Dream” was not invented yet. During the mid- to late-1800s, the American news and literature began to use “the American Dream” extensively. These two words were usually related to the ambitious Americans who moved to the West and the Europeans who came to the United States to look for better living conditions. Before the early 1900s, the American Dream also widely used to describe the promotion of people’s social classes and the idea of becoming wealthy. In 1931, Adams published his Epic of America, and the American Dream continued to thrive in the early 1900s.

However, the “Great Depression” crashed the American Dream during the early 1930s by taking away Americans’ wealth and making them homeless. Many American people were thrown out of their homes and could only make living by begging. With such a pessimistic economic situation, the American people couldn’t regain their American Dream until Franklin D. Roosevelt became in charge and tried to save the country through the New Deal. He believed that the American Dream could be saved with the support of the government and the increase of the job opportunities. With the increase of the working population, the American economy started to recover from the crisis, and the American Dream and did. Besides the high employment rate, Franklin D. Roosevelt also tried to save the American economy and to improve people’s lives by passing the 1934 National Housing Act, which increased the building of houses. As a result, owning a house later also became an essential part of the modern American Dream. After World War II, the American Dream fully recovered, because the United States became the strongest and the most flourishing nation in the world. According to a website of American Public Media, “By 1960, roughly 60 percent of Americans owned homes, double the percentage in the 1930s. Unemployment was low and the economy was booming. The United States had a lot to look forward to in its material future”. Although the American population was merely 6 percent of the total population of the world, they utilized one-third of all the resources and products on the Earth. People had no worries with their futures and were convinced that their diligence would bring them more wealth and happiness. With the booming economy, the American Dream was also exuberant and undoubted in people’s minds.

So, the typical American Dream in the 1960s was usually described as money, employment, a happy family, and a decent house with the stereotypical “white picket fences”.In the 1990s, the definition of the American Dream changed again, because the government tried to increase the purchase of real estate. People believed that buying houses was the best method to keep the value of their money, and the ownership of houses became the new element added to the original American Dream. It is pretty obvious that people were desperate when they faced the inflation, and investing money into buying houses was one of the only solutions to maintain their indulgent lifestyles. However, the “Great Recession” in 2009 caused enormous troubles to banks and greatly dropped the stock prices. Thus, the Americans who bet their money on both real estate and financial sectors lost terribly, and morale of the country was once again put at the bottom. At the same time, the belief of the American Dream was also questioned and discussed by people. Does the American Dream still exist? How to revive the American Dream? Those questions have evoked so many discussions, and people are still looking for a way to this American spirit.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Leave a Comment