American Dream Story

The American Dream is not just a catchy term—it’s a deeply rooted belief that has existed in the hearts of Americans for generations. It’s the understanding that with hard work, perseverance, and innovation, anyone can achieve success and prosperity. However, we don’t talk about the American Dream as much as we used to. Some claim that the American Dream is dead, but we believe it’s still alive and well—and achievable.

That’s why we created American Dream Story. With inspiring real-world examples, we show that the American Dream is thriving. The stories we share highlight individuals who have achieved success through their efforts, grit, and determination, many of whom are leaders in various industries across different decades.

Origins of the American Dream

The American Dream’s humble beginnings can be traced back to the Great Depression, a time when many people around the world were facing hardship and needed hope. As soldiers returned home after World War II, the American Dream became more prominent—Americans yearned for stability and well-being. During this time, being educated became more crucial to improving quality of life and many individuals pursued higher education to achieve their dreams, such as owning a home, supporting a growing family, and owning a business. Through private enterprise, the middle class rose to prominence, increasing financial stability, economic security, and good education and leading to overall prosperity.

The American dream story was coined by James Truslow Adams a historian and writer. He described it 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.”


Inspiring Generations

The American dream has inspired generation after generation in American history, instilling in them a spirit of excellence to achieve their aspirations. We love seeing individuals gaining confidence and self-respect as they achieve their goals, often without significant support from others. This principle is evident in several domains, including education, professional prospects, and even arts and entertainment. The American Dream has also been foundational to the immigrant narrative: many people have moved to the United States to secure a brighter future with improved opportunities compared to the limited opportunities of their homelands.


The Evolution of the American Dream

1950s and 1960s

Changing Tides

In the 1950s and 1960s, the American Dream underwent significant change as new aspirations for racial and gender equality emerged. The Civil Rights Movement was pivotal in creating a more equitable society, and Martin Luther King Jr. inspired the country with his vision of a nation in which its citizens “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Women also gained more legal rights and greater access to job opportunities, leading to greater independence and self-determination. This transformative era ingrained the values of equality and accountability into the American Dream.

1970s and 1980s

Redefining the Dream and Self-Fulfillment

Due to economic instability in the 1970s and early 1980s, the focus of the American Dream shifted from material wealth to self-fulfillment and personal growth. This led to the popularity of self-help books and a focus on work-life balance.

Despite some thinking that the importance of the American Dream lay in finding economic stability, James Truslow Adams emphasized in Epic of America that the American Dream represents “a better, richer, and happier life for all our citizens of every rank which is the greatest contribution we have as yet made to the thought and welfare of the world.”

That means that the American Dream is about each person reaching their full potential regardless of their circumstances. In other words, it’s not about money but rather about making the most of one’s life.

1990s to the Present

Dreaming in the Digital Age

The rise of the internet and the advancement of medicine and modern technology opened new opportunities for Americans, but troubling times were ahead. Although nobody expected the new millennium to begin with the terrorist attacks of September 11, the tragedy brought renewed patriotism and national security to the forefront of American consciousness. And the economic recession helped Americans to think more about financial stability and security. But even with these changes, the ideals of personal fulfillment, equality, and reasonable accruement of wealth remained crucial to the American Dream.

The American Dream continued to evolve in the 2010s as some declared its death while others desired to shape its definition. Controversial social justice movements gained momentum, and with a global pandemic came the realization that the American Dream might have more to do with family and healthy sociality than previously realized.

Whether as an opportunity for upward mobility and a better quality of life or as a means to positively impact future generations, the American Dream has always been and always will be about hard work, fulfillment, and community. At American Dream Story, we believe the American dream isn’t just surviving but thriving!

Get Involved

Do you know a story that would inspire and empower others on their journey towards the American Dream? Share with us today, and let it become a beacon of hope for countless others.