“The American Dream”… What exactly is the American Dream? In order to answer this question we have to differ between the American Dream which the founders meant and today’s imagination of the American dream.

The aim of this “theory” is for the most Americans to achieve success, prosperity, fame and wealth through hard work, frugality and thrift.

Most of today’s Americans would same that American dream is home ownership. Others would say that being your own boss, having your own business or becoming rich and famous is the aim if this dream. Other people think of driving an expensive car and making a lot of money. But what we have to know is that this was not meant by the Founding Fathers. None of these imaginations constitute the American Dream.

The founders of this idea preferred liberty instead of material success and prosperity. However, Americans today refer to material enrichment as “The American Dream”.

This expression used James Truslow Adams for the first time in his book The Epic of America (written in 1931).

In this book he says that “The American Dream” implies a development of a country in which life should be better and richer. Everybody should get the opportunity of ability and achievement.

Adams is of the opinion that the American is not a dream of motor and more expensive cars, nor a dream of higher wages. More recently, it implied a social revolution with a social system in which everybody should be able to reach to the fullest stature of which they are capable. People should not be recognized by their neighbourhood for their circumstances of birth or position but for what they are.

So all in all, I believe that the main ideas of “the American Dream” are the ideas of “Life, liberty, freedom and the pursuit of happiness”. The American Dream is simply an „idea of a happy and a successful life”

To me the American dream is not how many things you own, but the liberty and freedom to attend a school, to work, to start a business and so on. I do not think material mobility and success is what happiness is all about. You are happy when you are grateful and thankful for what you do have.


Studiert Wirtschaftswissenschaften an der Ruhr-Universität Bochum. Derzeit engagiert er sich an verschiedenen Projekten und Institutionen. Dazu gehören politische Hochschularbeit oder auch ehrenamtliches Engagement in diversen Netzwerken und NROs. Er schreibt als freier Autor für verschiedene Publikationen.

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