With Independence Day coming this weekend, it is a fitting time to consider the American Dream, an idea so central to the American identity. The “American Dream” was a term first used in 1931 by a historian, James Truslow Adams. Although the phrase was not used until the 20th century, the ideas behind the American dream were fundamental to the country since the beginning. The early settlers came to America for a better future; they expected success and prosperity. Immigrants that followed in subsequent years also came for a better life. The American dream, however, is not just limited to immigrants. It is an ideal adopted by all Americans, regardless of race or background and expresses the belief anyone can reach his or her potential through hard work. Today, the term expresses not only the hope for home ownership but also that one’s children will be better off economically and socially.
There has been much discussion recently in the news about the state of the American dream. Many Americans are beginning to question if it is still possible to achieve one’s dreams through hard work. A poll taken by an organization called Gallup showed the changes in attitudes. In 2001 76% of American felt very or somewhat satisfied that a person could make a better life for him or herself by working hard; however, in 2012, only 53% of Americans were satisfied.
If you would like to read an news article from about the current thinking about the American dream, click here to read a July 5, 2014 article from USA Today.