American Dream 2 Essay Research Paper

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American Dream 2 Essay, Research Paper The American Dream Going, Going, Gone? Has the American Dream turned into the American nightmare? The ideals stated in the Declaration of Independence, life, liberty and happiness, are no longer the ideals of today. Now, it is the pursuit of happiness that overshadows everything. Life and liberty are taken for granted. Americans today are constantly reminded and told how to pursue the dream . And more often than not, it is someone else s dream. The old-fashioned idea of a simple life with a decent house in a quiet neighborhood, with a steady job and a couple of healthy children is no longer enough. Today, both spouses must work so they can afford bigger houses, drive fancier cars, take better vacations and accumulate more things . Kids

come along later, if financial security is more certain. Today s generation finds itself unable to duplicate or surpass their own parents standard of living. When and how did it all change? Achieving the American dream dates back to the time when Christopher Columbus discovered America. Since then, there have been deals, agreements, treaties and even laws passed to reach the dream. During most of the 18th century, Great Britain ruled the area that was to become the United States. On July 4th, 1776, representatives of the American Colonies wrote and ratified the Declaration of Independence. This document declared freedom from British rule. The Declaration of Independence ranks as one of the greatest documents in human history, as well as the first step taken by Americans to

achieve the American dream (World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, pp. 75-78). Independence Day is celebrated every July 4th to honor its great and meaningful background. The dream of religious freedom and economic independence was started when the fifty-six members of the Continental Congress signed their names for all the American people. Following the Revolutionary War, Americans pursued the dream rather ineffectively. The new nation, without tradition or wealth, expanded almost in spite of itself as new frontiers and new settlements were made. Some measure of success was achieved and America s politics, economy and government stabilized as the nation grew. But by the middle of the 19th century, one issue stood out in opposition to the dream that all men were created equal slavery.

This issue was so hotly contested that the nation was divided into two. Only eighty-five years after achieving independence, the nation fought against itself to either abolish or uphold slavery. Losing sight of the dream and what it meant, the four-year Civil War caused more casualties than all wars from the Revolution through Vietnam combined. When the war was finally over, America started on a period of great economic growth. As great wealth was accumulated by the cattle barons, the railroad companies and the industrial giants, most Americans did not succeed to anywhere near the same degree. American society was split into those with money and those without. The richest few achieved the dream of freedom, wealth and happiness, but left the vast majority in an almost hopeless

state. For most, the hopes of reaching the American dream would remain just that a dream. As the 20th century rolled along, so did the economy for a chosen few. But that all came toppling down in October of 1929 with the stock market crash. Many of the richest people, banks, factories and stores lost millions of dollars and left Americans jobless. The crash started the Great Depression. This was a worldwide business slump of the 1930s. The Depression ranked as the worst and longest period of high unemployment and business activity in modern times (World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 8, pp. 363-367). The dream needed help as most Americans depended on the government and charity to provide them with food and jobs. Many of the relief programs started by Franklin Roosevelt not only helped