The 20th Century and the American Dream?

Jan 2009
17
New to this forum, hey everyone. :)

I got this history essay that is coming up. The topic is very open:

"select a twentieth century event in American history and form your interpretation as to how that event significantly influenced the American Dream. "

Now i first attempted to use the chinese immigration of the 19th and 20th century as the topic, but my teacher apparantly does not like that. I had written a good amount of the essay and now i have to scrap the whole thing...

Just trying to bounce some ideas around here. Any suggestions on a specific 20th century american history event?
 

Nick

Historum Emeritas
Jul 2006
6,111
UK
The Chinese immigration needs greater study and could be an interesting essay. America's railway was largely built through their effort. I suggest you talk to another teacher about it: one who is less Eurocentric as it seems a shame to have wasted all that hard work.
Or you could incorporate your research into an essay about the role of immigrants (Irish, German, Chinese and former civil war veterans from the east) seeking a new life in the American West (Pony Express, wagon train, railway)
 

avon

Forum Staff
May 2008
14,253
Well, the Great Depression made 'the American Dream' seem almost unobtainable by normal folks. The 1930s brought destitution many times over. After the war, that was pretty much all forgotten as consumerism altered the 'dream' into something that almost everyone could purchase!! (Note the slight sarcasm!)

Welcome to the forum, feignfeign!!
 
Jan 2009
17
Well, the Great Depression made 'the American Dream' seem almost unobtainable by normal folks. The 1930s brought destitution many times over. After the war, that was pretty much all forgotten as consumerism altered the 'dream' into something that almost everyone could purchase!! (Note the slight sarcasm!)

Welcome to the forum, feignfeign!!
thanks for the welcome avon :D

so i am thinking of maybe using world war 2 that you mentioned. What exactly spurred the consumerism during that time? was it just the amount of economic prosperity that Americans had after the world war? Also is there a way for me to somehow use the situation after the war in a negative way towards the America dream? i personally think the American dream is misleading and would like to write an essay geared towards my feelings. Thanks for the help

Anymore suggestions will be much appreciated!!
 

Patito de Hule

Ad Honorem
Jan 2009
3,333
Minneapolis, MN
What is meant by the phrase, 'the American Dream?'
Usually such questions are unanswerable. But in this case, the phrase was popularized, if not originated, by James Adams in The Epic of America written early during the depression. He defined The American Dream as the "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." He emphasized that it was a dream, not of material things only, but for a whole new social order.

The American dream is still there. We have millions at our borders clamoring to get in for their share of that dream. We hear mostly about those who in desperation come in illegally. They are looking for jobs and the freedom to work them.

Given our current controversy about immigrants, I think the topic is apropos.
 
Oct 2018
1
usa
The American dream is a term that was coined to illustrate a dream that should be within the reach of the American people. This is because it was perceived as a dream of a nation in which life ought to be richer, better and fuller for each individual. However, it seems as if it is not the case currently, because numerous people have lost their jobs, especially after the Wall Street Crash, thus contradicting the true essence of the American dream that the American citizens had an equal right to liberty, life, and happiness (Hargreaves, 2013.) The American dream is gradually changing, and many people believe that it is turning out to be the American nightmare.
Source: American Dream Essay
 
Oct 2017
243
America ??
Who could forget the Civil Rights Movement & what that’s done to not only American but worldwide perceptions of racism, oppression, neglect, equality, etc.? It’s an extension if not the final main chapter of the centuries long struggle for non-white Americans to gain equality & Justice. It’s also part of the larger mid-20th century counter-culture movement which has done so much for today. Maybe you would like to write topics about the civil-rights movement or counter-culture movement? Arguably the most defining event of the 20th century for America?

I know quite a lot about African American history which I hope can be of assistance :)
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,171
US
For my ancestors, they moved from various parts of Europe to the Steel City. My research indicates that they were relatively poor in their homeland. Once settled here, many of them took jobs in steel mills, grueling work. But they were able to buy a house and pay it off, their own home and property - something for which they had no chance in their birthplace. I found a record of a purchase deed for land for my one relative just 10 years after he arrived. They and their neighbors pooled their money together and built beautiful edifices in the form of a church. Their children received a quality education, something not always provided for in the land of their birthplace - at least past a few grade levels. They joined fraternal social clubs, were able to purchase life insurance for their posterity, followed local sports teams, were served by good hospitals when sickly and ill. Their descendants were able to move into the middle class and enjoy the benefits of such. That is the quintessential American Dream story for me.