The American Dream. What is “The American Dream”?. Has the American Dream changed over the years? What are people trying to achieve in the United States?. Can ANYONE achieve the American Dream?. Are there obstacles to the American Dream?.
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Has the American Dream changed over the years? • What are people trying to achieve in the United States?
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 achieved through hard work. 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 idea of the American Dream is rooted in the United States Declaration of Independence which proclaims that "all men are created equal" and that they are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights" including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." 
For centuries, New York has served as the gateway for millions of people from all over the world in search of the American dream. It only makes sense that it would now serve as a gateway for the world's greatest athletes.Hillary Clinton
The Hispanic community understands the American Dream and have not forgotten what they were promised - that in the U.S., a free market system, allows us all to succeed economically, achieve stability and security for your family and leave your children better off than yourselves.Marco Rubio
Americans have so far put up with inequality because they felt they could change their status. They didn't mind others being rich, as long as they had a path to move up as well. The American Dream is all about social mobility in a sense - the idea that anyone can make it.Fareed Zakaria
When we make college more affordable, we make the American dream more achievable.William J. Clinton
The negative side of the American Dream comes when people pursue success at any cost, which in turn destroys the vision and the dream.AzarNafisi • The best work of literature to represent the American Dream is 'The Great Gatsby' by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It shows us how dreaming can be tainted by reality, and that if you don't compromise, you may suffer.AzarNafisi
In the end, the American dream is not a sprint, or even a marathon, but a relay. Our families don't always cross the finish line in the span of one generation. But each generation passes on to the next the fruits of their labor.Julian Castro
A college degree is the key to realizing the American dream, well worth the financial sacrifice because it is supposed to open the door to a world of opportunity.Dan Rather
Literature • The term is used in popular discourse, and scholars have traced its use in American literature ranging from the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, to Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Willa Cather's My Ántonia, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1925), Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy (1925) and Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon (1977). Other writers who used the American Dream theme include Hunter S. Thompson, Edward Albee,John Steinbeck, and Langston Hughes. The American Dream is also discussed in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman; the play's protagonist, Willy, is on a journey for the American Dream. • As Chua (1994) shows, the American Dream is a recurring theme in other literature as well, for example, the fiction of Asian Americans. • Political leaders • Scholars have explored the American Dream theme in the careers of numerous political leaders, including Henry Kissinger,Hillary Clinton, Benjamin Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln. The theme has been used for many local leaders as well, such as José Antonio Navarro, the Tejano leader (1795–1871), who served in the legislatures of Coahuila y Texas, the Republic of Texas, and the State of Texas. • In 2006 U.S. Senator Barack Obama wrote a memoir, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. It was this interpretation of the American Dream that helped establish his statewide and national reputations. • Political conflicts, to some degree, have been ameliorated by the shared values of all parties in the expectation that the American Dream will resolve many difficulties and conflicts.
More resources • The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair • Also, see handout
Texts we have read in class that might be useful • “Harlem” by Langston Hughes • A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry • DNC Speech, by Julian Castro • RNC Speech, by Marco Rubio
Words that were brainstormed in Mr. Kachermeyer’s class • Philanthropy • Cynical • Naïve • Successful • Jaded • Opportunity • Striving • Seize • Attainable