James Truslow Adams And The American Dream

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While the idea of the American Dream became more popular during the 17th to 20th centuries, the achievability remained elusive due to a static and hierarchical social order that prevailed throughout this time. Thus, the tireless claims of the New Left for a reformed society are supported by the unchanging accessibility of the American Dream.
In his book The Epic of America (1931), James Truslow Adams defined the American Dream as “that 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”. Adams coined the phrase with the values of respectability, perseverance, and equal opportunity in mind. Contrary to modern distortions, Adams reasoned that the
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However, the hardships of crossing the transatlantic and demanding labor soon became the realities that indentured servants faced. Hofstadter presents Abbott E. Smith’s estimate that “1 out of 10 indentured servants became a substantial farmer and another became an artisan or overseer…The other eight, [Smith] suggests, either died during servitude, returned to England when it was over, or drifted off to become the “poor whites” of the villages and rural areas". Thus, the Europeans who came to the colonies as indentured servants are evidence of the inaccessibility of the American Dream during the 17th century.
The dominance of a master over his servants ensured a rigid social structure that undermined the accessibility of the American Dream for the common people, such as indentured servants, throughout the 17th century. Indentured servants, which constituted approximately 75-85% of all European immigrants to the colonies during the 1600s, had renounced their freedom through their indentures, leaving these servants under the often oppressive authority of their masters. While the living conditions
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