The American Dream - Term invented by an American historian during the Great Depression - A concept in history, society and culture - There is no definition of it or rather everybody has his own (complexity and vagueness) - History: o The pilgrims, first settlers, immigrated to America for several reasons: Europe was overcrowded, they were persecuted, o For them America was the promised land, the land of milk and honey, a new world in which they would be able to correct all the mistakes made in Europe (politics, society, ) o They were poor and had to make a living there o They had many problems: cold winters when many died, had to build houses, plant crops, but they did not give up o They had a strong believe in God who had singled out America as his chosen country. They were the chosen people.
o They would not let anybody get them down.
- Mayflower Compact: the first pilgrims formed rules: liberty, equality; equal and just laws. The American form of government would be the sole guarantor.
The government should be by, of and for the people.
- Declaration of Independence: o 1776 o Framework of political philosophy and principles for the new republics o Gave reasons for separation: ? Equality ? Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness ? Governments to secure these rights and not to force laws, a Free and independent, no British colony anymore; own country o Declared rights of the new country: contracts, war, peace, - Frontier spirit: o Europe: limited area, frontiers between people o America: first development between Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains: high standards, but overcrowded o People had to move west and start again. a continuous touch with simplicity and primitive conditions o Steady movement away from Europe o When life was not as they wished, they moved on hoping to find better conditions.
o Individualism, anti-social, antipathy to control a Mobile people: they do not stick to one place, but start again with almost nothing; nothing can stop them or make them give up a steady progress, steady improve, cross boundaries o Today: no boundaries (accepted): fly to the moon, to the mars a connection with science - Manifest Destiny: o A fervent supporter of the Democratic Party says: America s mission to democratise the world, nation of the future, manifest to mankind the excellence of divine principles o The Americans used this belief to justify its territorial expansion and the imperialism.
o Role as a global mediator in political conflicts - Success: o If you only try hard enough you can reach your aim. If you fail, you have not tried hard enough, you have sinned (pilgrims and their belief in God) ? Work hard a achieve goals and improve position in life ? Opportunity for each according to ability and achievement ? Recognised by others for what you are ? Do not give yourself up as individuals to selfishness, physical comfort and cheap amusement o Social status does not matter (pilgrims started with nothing) o From ...
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