What is the American Dream?

Generally the term American Dream commonly refers to life from an
American perspective. There is no universal meaning that can be attributed to
the American Dream. The American Dream’s primary objective to encourage
people to pursue happiness in life. But the definition of happiness has been an
ever-changing concept throughout the history of America. To describe the American Dream in the best way possible, this article will highlight the principles on which it is enshrined. Further, in understanding the American Dream, it is necessary to trace its origin and evolution.

Principles of the American Dream are as follows:

·  Equal and inalienable right to life

·  Right to liberty

· Fair and equal treatment of all people

· Equal opportunities for a better, richer and happier for all Americans.

·  Material empowerment: Ability to achieve wealth

Tracing American Dream’s origin

Adams Truslow James, an American historian, is credited as the first person to use the term American Dream. He used the term in his book titled: “The Epic of America”. During this period, America was facing the Great Depression crisis. Adams coined the term to explain issues to do with social/political expectation and religious promises.

The history of the American Dream

The founding fathers of America created a progressive idea which defined the American dream. The idea was based on the premise that every individual’s quest to pursue a happy life was key in creating a prosperous society. To advance this revolutionary idea, they established a government to safeguard every person’s right to pursue prosperity.

Meaning of the American Dream in the 1920s.

The Dream in this era encompassed acquisition of material possessions. This
notion was well stated by F.Scott Fitzgerald in his novel titled: “The Great
Gatsby”. As much as F.Scott advocated for acquisition of material possession in pursuit of happiness, he cautioned against allowing greed to influence achieving prosperity.

Meaning of the Dream after the 1920s

During this period, the American Dream still focused on pursuit of happiness on the basis of material power. Material power was viewed with respect to healthcare, decent housing, education and quality employment. This was emphasized by President Roosevelt during a state of the union address in 1944 when highlighted the components of an Economic Bill of Rights. His ideas were also supported by other US presidents. For instance, George Bush and Bill Clinton endorsed home ownership as a fundamental aspect of the American Dream.

The American Dream in modern times

Initially, the American Dream concentrated on material power as the key to attaining happiness. But that belief has changed over the years. Some people believe that the Great Recession contributed in changing the materialistic view of the American Dream which is impractical to attain. Presently, the dream is viewed more in terms of the desire to uphold American values such as:

· Meaningful contribution to the community and society at large.

·  Living a fulfilling life: living within your means and embracing a savings culture.

·  Spending quality time with family members and friends.

· Valuing and taking care of nature.

In summary, American Dream dwells on ensuring each person gets an equal opportunity to pursue happiness (everything one aspires to achieve). This is through pursuing a particular personal vision through strength of mind and hard work.


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