Samples United States Achieving the American Dream

Achieving the American Dream

579 words 2 page(s)

Since America was first settled in the early 17th century, people have been coming to the country in search of a better life for themselves and for their families. It began with European explorers and traders on quests to make their fortunes on gold and fur and evolved throughout the years and centuries to families pursuing religious and political freedom, opportunities for personal growth and wealth and the goal of creating a better life and legacy than what they were facing in their country of origin (‘Settlement’). In 1933, not long the biggest immigration surge in American history, James Truslow Adams defined the American Dream.

In his New York Times article, ‘America Faces 1933’s Realities,’ Adams defines the dream as ‘a vision for a better, deeper, richer life for every individual regardless of the position in society of which he or she may occupy by the accident of birth’ (2). This ‘better, deeper, richer life’ has economic, emotional, societal and relational possibilities (Adams 2). Using Adam’s definition, the American Dream is without a doubt, still a possibility for all those in search of it, however, modern misconceptions about the American Dream send people in search of goals that are unrealistic and unattainable.

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Since Adam’s American Dream requires a betterment of self, any increase in a person’s initial status is living up to the American Dream. Because of this, every person’s American Dream is different and unique based on each person’s life circumstances. For a person who has never had someone in his or her family graduate from high school, a high school diploma or college degree could be achieving the America Dream. For a person who has always rented apartments or homes, home ownership might be the American Dream. The American Dream is fluid, changing drastically with each generation, as each generation wants something better than the generation before them (Williams). In any situation, hard work can make the American Dream come true, and although the amount of hard work required may vary according to each individual’s Dream, achieving it cannot be done without effort.

In these present economic times, the hard work required may be even more than the hard work required for past generations. Economic security is no longer guaranteed, let alone economic prosperity. Yet, in these uncertain times, Americans have still held on to the Dream, and that persistence in believing in the Dream keeps the drive of working towards, and ultimately the ability to achieve the Dream alive. According to a 2009, New York Times/CBS News poll, 77 percent of Americans still believed it was possible to achieve the American Dream and only 3 percent said the American Dream did not exist (Sellye). Because of this belief in the American Dream, people, at least 77 percent of people, will continue to put in the hard work chasing it. If enough hard work and time is put into it, the Dream will be achieved. The American Dream becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and those who believe in it, can and will achieve it.

  • Adams, James T.. “America Faces 1933’s Realities.”‘New York Times’1 Jan. 1933: 2, 14.’New York Times. Web. 20 July 2013.
  • Seelye, Katharine Q.. “What Happens to the American Dream in a Recession?.”The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. The New York Times, 11 May 2009. Web. 20 July 2013.
  • “Settlement, American Beginnings: 1492-1690.”‘National Humanities Center. National Humanities Center, Nov. 2006. Web. 20 July 2013.
  • Williams, Lena. “Testing the Resonance of the American Dream.”‘New York Times23 June 1996: n. pag.’New York Times. Web. 20 July 2013.