Definitions

American Dream

American Dream

The American Dream is belief in the freedom that allows all citizens and residents of the United States to achieve their goals in life through hard work. Today, it often refers to one's material prosperity, which is dependent upon one's abilities and work ethic, and not on a rigid class structure.

Although the phrase's meaning has evolved over the course of American history, for some people, it is the opportunity to achieve greater material prosperity than was possible in their countries of origin. For others it is the opportunity for their children to grow up and receive an education and its consequent career opportunities. It is the opportunity to make individual choices without the restrictions of class, caste, religion, race, or ethnic group. For others in this the dream of choice and flexibility, the ability to wake up in the morning and decide to drive, cycle or take public transportation to work.

Origin

Historian and writer James Truslow Adams coined the phrase "American Dream" in his 1931 book Epic of America:
"The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.

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