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The American Dream Essay 

Write a historical analysis of the factors you see as leading to the development of the American dream as a concept. Try to show how the American dream grew out of specific aspects of American history.

Here is a sample essay that tries to answer the above question.

Historical Analysis of the American dream

Introduction

In every nation, there are a set of beliefs and ideologies that govern a people. In the United States, the people are defined by a set of ethos and ideals commonly referred to as the American dream. It is set on the basic argument that every American citizen regardless of where they were born can become successful through taking risks and hard work and not by chance. Through the declaration of independence in the US, the American dream is protected. It is protected using the quote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (Amadeo, 2018). As such, the American dream grew out of specific aspects of the American history.

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In 1931, there was the first public definition of the phrase in the book The Epic of America authored by James Truslow. In this definition, Truslow maintained that the Dream is characterized by a situation where every individual desires his or her life to be richer and fuller (Adams, 2017). There are five major pillars of the American dream, including the idea of a free market economy, embracing free trade agreements, embracing government protection of companies, and the idea that countries should replicate America’s development (Amadeo, 2017). In addition, there are three primary factors that have made the American Dream possible. One, the fact that the U.S. is a huge land governed by a central government. Two, the U.S. has benign neighbors due to its geographical position making them less of a jeopardy to its economic growth. Three, the U.S. has a huge scale of natural resources that facilitate its trading activities. Such conditions have continuously fostered a population that is united by language, political systems, and values. At this point, it is important to analyze the historical aspect of the American Dream.

Upon its inception, the American Dream only applied to white property owners. However, as people began embracing the idea of equal rights to every American despite their color or origin, laws were extended to include other individuals, including non-property owners and women (Cullen, 2004). In the 1920s, the American Dream started acquiring a more profound definition characterized by acquiring material items. The drastic change was specifically introduced by Scott Fitzgerald in the novel The Great Gatsby. In the novel, one of the characters Daisy Buchanan admires the shirt of Jay Gatsby proclaiming that she has never seen such a beautiful shirt (Scott, 2017). In the new definition, there were elements of greed that finally led to woes in the stock market and the Great Depression.

The American Dream has been continuously defined by prominent American politicians. One of the greatest supporters of the Dream was President Lincoln who, upon becoming president, was quick to accord equal opportunities to slaves. Another supporter was President Wilson who maintained and further advocated for the accordance of voting rights for women leading to the 19th Amendment in 1918 (Cullen, 2004). In the same breadth, President Johnson fronted the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that led to an end of segregation in many Public schools. The title also protected employees from discrimination based on their color, origin, sex, religion, and pregnancy. In the recent past, President Obama promoted the accordance of equal rights to married people regardless of their sexual orientation, thereby giving a voice to the LGBT community. In the 1920s, most American leaders embraced the Gatsby Dream characterized by greed through acquisition of material wealth (Cullen, 2004). The trend continued until President Roosevelt introduced the idea of equal opportunities to homeowners through creation of Fannie Mae that insured mortgages. Through the economic bill, there was advocacy for decent housing and employment opportunities for all.

President Roosevelt pushed for the idea that attainment of individual freedom required maximum economic security and independence. That is, when people are hungry and unemployed, the growth of a nation is impossible since these factors lead to dictatorship. Therefore, Roosevelt protected the U.S. from detrimental factors such as communism, socialism, and Nazism (Cullen, 2004). It was through the Second Bill of Rights that the issue of domestic security was addressed and later pushed forward by Truman’s administration. Over the years, there has been efforts to define the America Dream by American leaders and policy makers. President Obama is the most recent president that redefined the American Dream to include affordable health care, employment opportunities, student loans, and government aid.

In the American society of today, The American Dream may be taken to mean being able to exist in a free and equal society. This is a society where an American is hesitant to impose their cultural values on others but always ready to join fellow Americans in pushing for their common socioeconomic interests. They are concerned about protecting the right of another person and not on the cultural background of that individual (Walzer, 2004). They know that this is the only way it may be possible for people to work hard and earn their living based on true merit. It is the capitalism spirit, which believes in rewarding hard work so that anybody who dedicatedly pursues their dreams can actually achieve them. A person can work through their dreams from anywhere within the country regardless of where they are born.

Conclusion

The American Dream has continuously been shaped by American history. Although there has been some disagreement on what actually constitutes the Dream, the founding fathers and the American Presidents have made efforts to define the American Dream as equal opportunities for all. Here, equal opportunities refers to affordable health care, education and employment opportunities, and affordable housing. In the coming years, new leaders and events might redefine the dream and include other elements. One fact that remains is that the American Dream has grown out of the historical aspects of American history.

References

Adams, J. T. (2017). The epic of America. New York, NY: Routledge.

Amadeo, K. (2018). “What is the American Dream? The history that made it possible”. The Balance. Retrieved June 29, 2020 from https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-the-american-dream-quotes-and-history-3306009

Cullen, J. (2004). The American dream: a short history of an idea that shaped a nation. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, USA.

Scott, F. F. (2017). The Great Gatsby. Рипол Классик.

Walzer, M. (2004). What does it mean to be an “American?”. Social Research, 71(3), 633-654.

Essay on the American Dream Outline

Introduction

Thesis: The American dream grew out of specific aspects of the American history defined by the fore-founding fathers and America’s greatest leaders.

Body

Paragraph 1:

In 1931, there was the first public definition of the phrase in the book the Epic of America authored by James Truslow.

  • In his description, he maintained that the Dream is characterized by a situation where every individual desires his or her life to be more vibrant and fuller.
  • There are five major pillars of the American dream including, the idea of a free market economy, embracing free trade agreements, embracing government protection of companies, and the idea that countries should replicate America’s development.

Paragraph 2:

Upon its inception, the American Dream only applied to white property owners.

  • As people began embracing the idea of equal rights to every American despite their color or origin, the laws were extended to include other individuals including non-property owners and women.
  • In the 20’s, the American Dream started acquiring a more profound definition characterized by obtaining material items.
  • In the new definition, there were elements of greed that finally led to woes in the stock market and the Great Depression.

Paragraph 3: 

Prominent American politicians have continuously defined the American Dream.

  • One of the greatest supporters of the Dream was President Lincoln who upon becoming president was quick to accord equal opportunities to slaves.
  • Another champion was President Wilson who maintained and pushed forward for accordance with voting rights for women leading to the 19th Amendment in 1918.
  • President Johnson pushed forward for the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that led to an end of segregation in many Public schools.
  • President Obama promoted the accordance of equal rights to married people regardless of their sexual orientation giving a voice to the LGBT community

Paragraph 4:

President Roosevelt pushed for the idea that attainment of individual freedom requires maximum economic security and independence.

  • Roosevelt protected the US from different elements such as communism, socialism, and Nazism.
  • Through the Second Bill of Rights that the issue of domestic security was addressed and later pushed forward by Truman’s administration.
  • President Obama is the most recent president that redefined the American Dream to include affordable health care, employment opportunities, student loans and government aid.

Paragraph 5: 

In the American society of today, The American Dream may be taken to mean being able to exist in a free and equal society.

  • This is a society where an American is hesitant to impose their cultural values on others but always ready to join fellow Americans in pushing for their common socioeconomic interests.
  • They are concerned about protecting the right of another person and not on the cultural background of that individual.

Conclusion

American history has continuously shaped the American Dream. Although there has been a disagreement on what constitutes the Dream, the founding fathers and the American Presidents have made efforts to define the American Dream as equal opportunities for all

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