What Was the American Dream in the 1930s?

According to James Truslow Adams, the person responsible for coining the phrase “American Dream” in 1931, the American Dream is simply for everyone to have equal opportunity to live a better and more prosperous life. The phrase has not significantly changed meaning since its inception.

Adams first used the phrase in the preface to a book entitled “The Epic of America,” a historical account of the United States, explains Time. Although Adams coined the phrase “American Dream,” he took no credit for the ideal behind it, and claimed it was the goal of Americans all along. He believed the promise of something better is what drives Americans, even in tough times.

Adams’ philosophy was significant because he conceived the term “American Dream” in the midst of the Great Depression, a time of economic recession following the stock crash of 1929. During the Great Depression, as many as 15 million people were unemployed and almost half of all banks closed. Adams believed, however, as many others did, that it is the American Dream that unites Americans and helps them start anew when they encounter obstacles. Although there has been much doubt expressed about the American Dream as the country has struggled through another recession, the ideal still survives.