The American Dream

 

 

MYTHS AND HEROES : THE AMERICAN DREAM

  1. THE AMERICAN DREAM DEFINED

The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States, a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility for the family and children. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.

The American Dream is rooted in the the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims that “all men are created equal” with the right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Since then, it has become a well-known statement on human rights, particularly its second sentence:

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.

This sentence came to represent a moral standard to which the United States should strive. This view was notably promoted by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address,

Glossary of terms

Ethos (/ˈθɒs/ or US /ˈθs/) is a Greek word meaning “character” that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation, or ideology.

The Declaration of Independence is the usual name of a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as thirteen newly independent sovereign states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. Instead they formed a new nation—the United States of America.

The American Civil War, widely known in the United States as simply the Civil War as well as other sectional names, was a civil war fought from 1861 to 1865 to determine the survival of the Union or independence for the Confederacy. Among the 34 states in January 1861, seven Southern slave states individually declared their secession from the United States and formed theConfederate States of America. The Confederacy, often simply called the South, grew to include eleven states, and although they claimed thirteen states and additional western territories, the Confederacy was never diplomatically recognized by a foreign country. The states that remained loyal and did not declare secession were known as the Union or the North. The war had its origin in the fractious issue of slavery, especially the extension of slavery into the western territories.[N 1] After four years of combat, which left over 600,000 Union and Confederate soldiers dead and destroyed much of the South’s infrastructure, the Confederacy collapsed and slavery was abolished. Then began the Reconstruction and the processes of restoring national unity and guaranteeing civil rights to the freed slaves.

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