The American Dream in the ’30s looked quite different from today’s vision of it.

The American Dream

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Everybody dreams of something, whether it is to one day become financially independent, buy their very first house, become their own boss, or start a family. That’s why one of the most prominent, well-known, and revolutionary catchphrases of the United States, for close to 90 years, has been the idea of living the “American  Dream.”

While the phrase has grown and expanded to mean many different things to many different people, its rise to popularity started in 1931, when famed historian and writer James Truslow Adams wrote in his book The Epic of America about “the American dream, that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement.” Read on for a closer look at the American Dream through the years. 


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In the 1930s, the American Dream was simple and didn’t involve waiting in long lines to score the newest iPhone on the day it came out or being able to get the latest credit card with a slew of perks. Adams even clarified to say that “it is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of a social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.” Check out these fascinating facts about America that you never learned in school.


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In the 1940s, the term started becoming more common to use and to hear. It appeared in advertisements for intellectual products and services such as plays, books, and articles.