The American Dream – Then and Now

The American Dream was once about equality, solidarity and opportunity. It’s what drove the first settlers to America to escape tyranny, religious and political persecution and poverty.

It’s the vision of Horatio Alger-style individual upward social mobility. Today, the term is mostly used to describe the pursuit of wealth.


The American dream is an ideal that represents the belief that anyone who works hard can achieve their goals and be successful. The dream is rooted in America’s history and culture and has inspired many writers to create books and films about it. It has also been influenced by different political and economic factors over time. However, the core of the American dream remains unchanged. The main features of the American dream include freedom and equality. This includes the freedom to make big decisions in life and to work towards goals, and the ability to own property and pursue happiness.

During the colonial period, the American dream was mainly based on religious beliefs. Puritans believed that life was a constant struggle between good and evil, and the righteous would be rewarded in heaven. As the nation grew, the dream became more centered on individuality and success through hard work. The dream was reflected in literature from the time such as Sinclair Lewis’ 1922 novel Babbitt and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 classic The Great Gatsby.

Following the Revolution, the American dream became more focused on freedom and equality. People were encouraged to be self-sufficient and start businesses of their own. The ideal of the independent woman was prevalent during this time as well, as was the idea that any citizen could become President.

In the mid-1800s, the discovery of gold in California caused hundreds of men to travel across the country in hopes of becoming rich by panting for gold. Although most did not strike it rich, they did find a better way to live than working on farms. This experience is considered one of the first major examples of the American dream, and it shows how the American dream can change based on current events.

The Great Depression brought about criticisms of how the government was not looking out for the poor and eroded the perception of the American dream as a collective ideal. Then came World War II, and the American dream once again shifted toward materialism and success through consumption.

Today, many Americans believe that the American dream is fading. Some people think that it is no longer possible to have a family, a home and a career, while others feel that this is still an achievable goal for most people. In a recent survey, respondents ranked homeownership and family life as the most important aspects of the American dream.

However, the current recession has increased income inequality in America and may have weakened the materialistic version of the American dream. Regardless, the American dream continues to inspire many people. Some people are redefining the American dream to include freedom of choice in how to live, as well as a good family life. While this is not the same as the original vision, it can be a good motivation for people to work hard and stay hopeful. A good education is also a vital aspect of the American dream and can provide a path to success for those who are willing to work hard.

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