American Dream or Nightmare?: Lies for a Better Life

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To understand the American dream it’s easiest to look back in history at how great historical movements created and shaped the American dream idea. For starters a long time ago around the 30’s, James Truslow Adams, a popular historian, was putting the final touches on the preface to his latest book. It was an interesting time in the life of our nation. Though the crash of 1929 had signaled the beginning of the Great Depression that was to be endured for years to come, there was also a spirit of progress, of possibility. On the day Adams was finishing his manuscript, President Herbert turned on the lights of the newly opened Empire State Building. High hopes amid hard times: the moment matched Adams' thesis in his book, “The Epic of America” (Meacham 1-4). A history of the nation that was to spread a term not yet in the general lingo in those last years of the reigns of Harding, Coolidge and Hoover. Adams' subject, he wrote, was "that American dream of a better, richer, and happier life for all our citizens of every rank which is the greatest contribution we have as yet made to the thought and welfare of the world.", (Meacham 1-4). It was not a new thing, this abiding belief that tomorrow would be better than today. "That dream or hope" (Meacham 1-4). There is no single definition of the American Dream. Different people in the US have a different perception of the idea of American Dream. The history of American Civil War helps people understand the two different views regarding the American Dream. All thirteen colonies of the pre-independence era fought together against the British forces. By the end of the American Revolution however, things had changed. The southern colonies had different views which didn't match with those of the northern states. The northern states were against the tradition of slavery and wanted a federal government to rule the nation. They also favored the growth of industries in America. Southern states on the other hand, wanted a...
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