What Was The American Dream In The 1920S?
- Jason Spencer
How did the American Dream begin to change in the 1920’s?
The Rise and Fall of the American Dream – The concept of happiness has evolved considerably during the course of U.S. history. In the 1920s, the focus moved from the founders’ original ideal of opportunity to the accumulation of physical possessions. That was demonstrated most clearly in the work of fiction known as “The Great Gatsby.” F.
- Scott Fitzgerald, who wrote it, encapsulated the ideals of the time period well.
- At the same time, he cautioned that the quest of pleasure that was motivated by greed was not going to be successful.
- This is due to the fact that there was always someone else who had more.
- Because of greed, the 1920s were known as the Roaring Twenties, but they were followed by the Great Depression after the stock market crashed in 1929.
After the 1920s, a number of presidents promoted the concept of the American Dream as a means of achieving financial success. In his State of the Union speech in 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt presented an outline of an Economic Bill of Rights. He characterized the pursuit of happiness as having a nice place to live, a satisfying work, an opportunity to further one’s education, and access to medical care.
- FDR came to the realization that individuals who were hungry, without a house, and unwell were more inclined to give in to the pressures of big societal forces.
- Concerned about the rise of fascism, communism, and socialism throughout the world at the time, he expressed his worries to his friend.
- The Unfinished Second Bill of Rights that was drafted by FDR after World War II was intended to address concerns around domestic security.
The entitlement component of the American Dream was enlarged as part of President Truman’s Fair Deal. If you were a law-abiding citizen who put forth a lot of effort and didn’t break the system, the government ought to reward you with housing, health care, education, and financial stability.
A great number of national leaders carried on with the transition that FDR and Truman had started. Homeownership was a component of the American Dream that was endorsed by both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. When Hillary Clinton was a candidate for president in 2008, she put out a plan called the American Dream.
It included things like buying a home, sending children to college, saving for retirement, and providing health insurance for kids. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama significantly expanded citizens’ access to medical treatment.
Did the American Dream exist in the 1920s?
|Throughout the course of history, humans have struggled for a sense and need for belonging, an identity to call their own. This innate longing exists in every culture, place, and time; many found that identity in America. From its genesis, America has been the land of dreams and opportunity, a beacon of light to those for which little hope exists. The first settlers found here a haven for religious freedom while others simply sought a new life. Colonial America saw a movement toward unity for these assorted groups of people, each seeking his or her own version of liberty. Benjamin Franklin was among the first to define what it is to be called “American” and is often referred to as “The First American” himself. He became a figurehead for the American Spirit and forged the path to the American Dream. His rags to riches story gave these new Americans a relatable story that they, too, could find success in America never thought possible anywhere else. With the coming and going of the American Revolution began a revolution in culture as well. The birth of the United States brought with it a new sense of pride and of country. A disheveled group of misfits from all over the world had found common ground and a common cause for freedom, fighting and dying for a country that they could finally call their own. Until the Revolution, Americans still considered themselves to be very much a part of Britain. They found themselves betrayed, taken advantage of, and pushed to their limits of tolerance and cooperation. However, the idea of being not only British, but American built a resilience that could not be undone. For these people to be able to come together to transcend every social stratification, spanning such great distances lacking the sort of mass media technology that exists today was no easy task and speaks volumes to the American Spirit being very much alive and well already. From that point on, that very same idea of what it is to be an American could never be extinguished, but would instead endure and thrive into the renowned American Dream. American investors define the American Dream as “The belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society where upward mobility is possible for everyone” and believe that “The American dream is achieved through sacrifice, risk-taking and hard work, not by chance. Both native-born Americans and American immigrants pursue and can achieve the American dream.” Nineteenth century America entered the world stage as the only place on earth where every man was truly entitled to be his own. The Civil War era, though a tumultuous and dark time for every American, crossed the bridge for the first time between an individual identity and the American identity. In the decades between the Revolution and Civil War, citizens of the United States very much identified themselves by state first and country second. Every man from Virginia considered himself proudly to be primarily a Virginian. With the Union restored and sectionalism weeded out of society over time, the Virginian became an American. Over the course of the next decades, Americans would again become segmented into classes divided by economic gain, racial oppression, and keeping up with the ever-changing times. The American Dream had gone from something very attainable to a distant hope. However, as is characteristic of the American character, the people remained hard-wearing and optimistic. The beginning of the 20th century brought on a shift in the American Dream like never before. The modern idea of this dream found its beginning in the 1920s and 30s, bridging the socioeconomic and cultural divides weighing so heavily on society through the economy, politics, and popular culture. The modern American Dream took the struggle between individual identity and American identity and fit them together into one ideal: a singular dream, a truly American one. The Business of The Dream As the 19th century was coming to a close, a new awareness for the forgotten and oppressed members of society came to light in a variety of ways. The United States had been experiencing urbanization and technological advances at an extremely expedited rate. Waves of immigrants had been arriving from Southern and Eastern Europe seeking work, increasing the population of working poor. The notion of the American Dream at this time existed to immigrants and meant merely to survive and be able to exist in a country that was free. Immigrants came to America to experience liberty, though liberty was little more than cramped quarters and penny wages. While this population of people had been previously overlooked, their struggles began to be exposed in the 1890s. Jacob Riis became a pioneer in this exposition, saying that “As we mold the children of the toiling masses in our cities, so we shape the destiny of the State which they will rule in their turn, taking the reins from our hands.” His initiative in taking a stand for the urban poor inspired others to use their work to expose the condition of the urban poor. The Ashcan School centered itself on the harsh realities of urban living and depicted the dark struggle of daily life. Artists like George Bellows painted scenes to move the American public to do something about the condition of the urban poor. Bellows’ and Riis’ plight soon became the plight of the American public as well, fostering an environment for economic, political, and social reform. The goals of the Progressive Era were centered on taming the beast that created this urban mess: capitalism. People like Jane Addams believed that “The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” Americans were experiencing a need to ensure a good life not only for the individual, but for the entirety of the American population. Even in Washington the Progressive movement challenged political corruption and implored the government to take steps to regulate things like food and drugs, control corporate power, and create a strong system to manage the difficulties of this new urban environment. However, all this reform and progress would come to an end with the onset of the First Great War. World War I, according to President Woodrow Wilson, was a selfless cause and would be “a war to end all wars” making the world “safe for democracy.” The American public, after the U.S. entry into the war, got behind the cause in many ways. From victory gardens and the purchasing of bonds to songs for national spirit, Americans felt a sense of unity that bridged the gaps between classes. War music depicted a sense of cohesiveness. Songs like “Over There” and “How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree)” convey a message of Americans all being on the same team, no matter economic class or ethnicity. The World War I era was a time of strict moral codes with serious objectives to be accomplished, and, as any largely supported war time, produced huge economic success and prosperity, giving birth to the infamous Roaring Twenties. The Roaring Twenties was the beginning of what is experienced today as the American Dream, and capitalism was back in full swing. A time of rich cultural births and overindulgence in commodities are pieces of the modern American spirit that will never be undone. The 1920s Americans as described by Bill Bryson were not terribly different than Americans today: headstrong, resilient, and a mighty force of ambition that is not to be reckoned with. They were avid fans of gossip, hungry for thrill, and had a will to be the best in the world that could not be satisfied. Bryson states that “no other country in history had ever been this affluent, and it was getting wealthier daily at a pace that was positively dizzying”.1920s Americans created a world of economic prosperity that they wanted to endure forever. An increased gross national product brought rise to the standard of living for every American, producing things like chain stores, installment credit, mass produced consumer goods, electric household appliances, and the automobile. While the economic prosperity of the 20s would eventually end, the mentality that it brought to American culture, the dream that it created and realized would never be extinguished. The world that is experienced today in advertising, magazines, radio, film, and personal freedom, the world that we consider to exist within the American Dream, had its genesis in the prosperity of the Roaring Twenties. The American Dream was now something not only brought into the minds of all social classes, it was something that was attained and experienced by the majority of Americans. This prosperity helped to bridge the gap between individual identity and the identity of the social community as a whole. Even into the crash of 1929 and the Depression that ensued in the 30s, Americans identified with each other in ways that they had not experienced before. Everyone participated in the lush culture of the 20s as well as in the hardship of the 30s. From this point in time forward, regardless of social class, race, or ethnicity, U.S. citizens experienced and defined the American Dream together rather than merely catching a glimpse of a far-off reality. The Culture of Politics Politics in the U.S. changed drastically from the Progressive Era through the Roaring Twenties and into the Great Depression. The political reform experienced in the Progressive Era bolstered a strong central government and conveyed a sense of seriousness about the role of the government. Middle class activists called on Christian ethics to fix social problems with organizations such as the YMCA. Many sought to apply a sort of scientific method to society to protect morals and social welfare. Theodore Roosevelt’s “Square Deal” built on the conservation of natural resources, control of corporate power, and protection of consumers. All this regulation created a very severe air about what it is to be an American. While Americans were identifying with each other, it was in a way that widened the gap between classes rather than bringing them closer together. It seems that society was very much divided in half. The ones on top only interacted with the ones on the bottom out of pity or remorse for their situation. The upper classes felt a sense of responsibility for the lower classes to look after them, much like a mother would take care of her child. The idea of the American dream here was one looked to by the lower classes of immigrants new to the U.S. rather than by the entire population. However, with the drastic political turnaround of the 1920s, that idea would change.|
What was the original American Dream?
The concept of the “American Dream” originated in the early 1900s as a vision of equality, justice, and democracy for the nation as a whole. It had nothing to do with the pursuit of personal prosperity. The expression was given a new meaning by each succeeding generation up to the time of the Cold War, when it was appropriated as an argument for a consumer-oriented and capitalist kind of democracy.
What was American life like in the 1920s?
The decade known as the Roaring Twenties in American history was a time of significant upheaval in social, economic, and political institutions. It was the first time that there were more people living in cities than on farms in the United States. Between the years 1920 and 1929, the nation’s overall wealth increased by more than 40 percent, and its gross national product (GNP) grew by 40 percent over the same time period.
This economic engine swept many Americans into an opulent “consumer culture” in which people all throughout the country saw the same advertising, purchased the same items, listened to the same music, and did the same dances. This “consumer culture” was characterized by affluence. However, a large number of Americans were uneasy with the risqué urban lifestyle of the 1920s, and as a result, the decade of Prohibition was marked more by strife than by joy.
For others, however, the Jazz Age of the 1920s raged loud and long, right up until the decade’s end, when the excesses of the Roaring Twenties came tumbling down as the economy plummeted. America: The Story of Us is available to view on HISTORY Vault.
Why were the 1920s such an important era for the concept of the American Dream?
The 1920s were the finest period to accomplish the American Dream because of the advancements made for women, the new technology that were introduced, and how much more inexpensive goods got. The 1920s were known as the Roaring Twenties because to the economic boom that occurred during this decade, the numerous shifts that occurred in people’s lifestyles, and how this decade exemplified the pursuit of the American ideal.
How does Gatsby represent the American Dream?
Frequently Asked Questions – What is The Great Gatsby saying about The American Dream? The Great Gatsby shows the American Dream as one of materialism. It reveals that, while luxury and extravagance may appear to equate pleasure to an outsider, money cannot buy the characters love, and so, the American Dream is a faulty ideal, just out of grasp to even the richest people.
Why was the 1920s called the Roaring Twenties?
The decade sometimes is referred to as the ‘Roaring Twenties’ because to the apparently new and less-inhibited lifestyle that many individuals embraced in this period.
When did the American Dream become popular?
The term ‘American Dream’ grew even more popular in the 20 th century, partially on the strength of James Truslow Adams’ 1931 book, ‘Epic of America.’ Adams remarked how the American Dream had altered over time and how it was impossible for European nobility to appreciate its significance or why it drew so many immigrants to the
What is American Dream today?
In 2021, the “American dream” is a more nuanced concept. The concept, in the minds of some, continues to evoke associations with the beginning of our nation. A conviction that life is better in the United States, even at the present day, and that the freedoms enjoyed in our nation make it possible for anybody to achieve their goals.
For some others, the idea is little more than a pipe dream. The harsh realities of inequality, income mobility, the pandemic, and a flawed immigration system serve as unmistakable wake-up calls that the American ideal is unattainable for all people. This issue of The Catalyst makes an effort to investigate just what the concept of the “American dream” entails in the modern day.
We feature views from a diverse range of people, including immigrants and their children, Americans who have triumphed over their own struggles, and thought leaders who examine the history of the concept, the economics, and immigration reform. This is not an easy conversation to have, but it is a vital one that frequently leads to inspiration.
The writings have a healthy dose of pessimism regarding the difficulties that lie ahead for our nation, but they also have a healthy dose of hope regarding its potential. We are reminded that despite our differences of opinion, we typically have more in common than we are aware of. This is maybe the most essential takeaway.
And the fact that ultimately, all of us want the same things for ourselves and our families: success, happiness, and fulfillment. The American dream is in this state at this point in time.
How did the Great Depression impact the American Dream?
The influence of the Great Depression on the American Dream Imagine switching from a situation in which you have all you want and are happy to one in which you have nothing and the nation as a whole is depressed. Exactly this had place at the time of the Great Depression.
People were losing their jobs, their homes, and all of their assets, which led to a loss of trust in the concept of the “American Dream.” Many people in the United States saw the Great Depression as the moment when the American Dream died forever. The term “the American Dream” refers, for many people, to aspirations of making one’s life better.
The acts and suggestions of FDR, the common man, and Henry Ford had both a beneficial and a detrimental impact on the ability of Americans during the Great Depression to strive toward their American Dreams. During the Great Depression, FDR assisted American folks in getting back on their show more satisfied feet.
- His New Deal pledged to spend more money to combat the terrible times that were brought on by the depression,” which contributed to Roosevelt’s victory in the election (Marren).
- This exemplifies the premise that the people believed their greatest hope of returning to normalcy was with Roosevelt’s assistance and reforms, since this shows how the residents felt this was their best opportunity.
Despite the fact that Roosevelt provided the American people with optimism, “by the time he was elected in 1933, it was projected that 15 million people were without job” (Marren). This demonstrates how Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s pledges and presence in power could have restored some trust in the government, despite the fact that people all around the United States were still being hit with disasters.
FDR’s “New Deal projects” had, by the time he reached the conclusion of his first term in office, “revolutionized relations between labor and capital, transformed the look of the American countryside, and, with the passing of the Social Security Act in 1935, created the foundations for the welfare system” (Kennedy).
FDR’s “Projects to produce jobs were initiated as part of the New Deal. These publicly funded initiatives were not, in and of themselves, sufficient to get everyone back to work “(Marren) The acts that President Franklin D. Roosevelt took during the Great Depression were beneficial to the American people.
This also laid the groundwork for an effective reform that is still going to be implemented today. These steps taken by the government and FDR did not put an end to the Great Depression; nonetheless, they did serve to restore trust in the government, which in turn led to the banks being reopened. Despite the fact that the government was providing assistance to the populace, “it took the country most of the following 10 years to work its way out of the slump” (Marren).
It was not a solution that could be implemented quickly; rather, it required a significant amount of time to get the nation back on track and get people’s hopes and aspirations for the American Dream back on track. During the time of the Great Depression, FDR’s focus was on helping to better the people, therefore he was an essential component in the effort to assist Americans in regaining their ability to pursue their American Dreams.
What did Americans value in the 1920s?
The decade was defined by its preoccupation with such important topics as modernism, sophistication, and indulgence. In spite of the fact that Prohibition was in place, a significant number of individuals continued to drink extensively. The 1920s were a decade of great progress for women. The Nineteenth Amendment, which gave voting rights to women, was ratified in the year 1920.
What were the 1920s known for?
Show Information, Print Out the Version, and Read About the 1920s Digital History ID 2920 The 1920s were a decade that witnessed significant social upheaval as well as profound cultural tensions. Many people in the United States viewed the expansion of cities, the creation of a consumer culture, the rise in popularity of mass entertainment, and the so-called “revolution in morals and manners” as freedom from the constraints that the country’s Victorian era had imposed on them.
The decade of the 1920s saw significant shifts in sexual mores and gender roles, as well as changes in hair and clothing designs. But for a great number of other people, the United States appeared to be changing in ways that were unwelcome. The end consequence was a “cultural civil war” that was more like a thinly veiled “race war,” in which members of a diverse society fought viciously over topics such as foreign immigration, evolution, the Ku Klux Klan, prohibition, women’s roles, and race.
The 1920s were the first years of the 20th century to be given a catchphrase, either the “Roaring 20s” or the “Jazz Age.” It was a decade marked by both affluence and debauchery, as well as marathon dancers, flappers, flagpole sitters, bootleggers, and raccoon coats.
- According to the conventional wisdom, this era was known as the Roaring 20s because it was a time when younger people defied conventional norms and taboos while their parents and grandparents participated in a frenzy of speculation.
- But the 1920s were also a decade of violent cultural clashes, pitting religious liberals against religious fundamentalists, nativists against immigrants, and rural provincials against urban cosmopolitans.
These rivalries were fueled by the Great Depression.
How did the American Dream changed?
The concept of the “American Dream” morphed into an ideal in which individuals were expected to have the financial means to purchase all of the accoutrements of contemporary life, such as automobiles, television sets, and college educations for their offspring.
What was the American Dream in the 1950s?
The American Dream of the 1950s against the American Dream of Today – The American Dream of the 1950s placed a heavy emphasis on consumerism as well as on predetermined standards of behavior for men and women. Automobiles, radios, and televisions were necessities for every household in America.
Women were expected to stay at home and take care of the household while men went out to find employment. Wealth, freedom, and equality all play a significant role in the modern conception of the American Dream. Many households have the expectation that their children will receive a high school diploma and enroll in college in order to have a prosperous future.
They will be able to retire without the stress of worrying about their finances if they take this action. In contrast to the expectations that were placed on people during the 1950s, every citizen of the United States is meant to have the freedom to choose how they wish to spend their lives.