The American Dream

Feb 28, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

In one of those nudges to understand something, I found in Wikipedia that the American Dream referred to the freedom that allowed all citizens and most residents of the United States to pursue their goals in life through hard work and free choice. The phrase's meaning evolved over the years and the Founding Fathers used the phrase, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

The American Dream also referred to the chance for immigrants to achieve greater material prosperity than possible in their countries of origin. America was viewed as a land in which one's prospects in life were defined by talent and energy rather than by one's family wealth or political connections. This hope included the chance for one's children to grow up and receive a good education leading to better careers. It was the option of making individual choices without the limits of class, caste, religion, race, or ethnic group.

Columbia Encyclopedia’s brief on historian and Pulitzer Prize winner James Truslow Adams (1878-1949) said he coined the phrase American Dream. In his Epic of  America (1931) Adams defined it as “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

Well said.

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