[Ads-l] Antedating of "American Dream"

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Mar 1 23:28:06 UTC 2019

Is there a distinction between the "American Dream" as used here, in 
which the "dream" appears to be that of the country's prospects and 
fulfilling its potential as a whole, as opposed to the "American Dream" 
to which individuals aspire?

The concept of the prototypical individual American's dream existed 
before 1895, if not the expression, as such.

In an article about the Life of the industrialist, Jay Gould, "His life 
is the incarnation of every live American's dream.  He was born in a 
little farm house, began life without a penny, but by virtue of his 
enterprise and the laws of his country he accumulated the greatest 
fortune ever gathered by one man in a single lifetime, and died the 
richest man in the world."
Pittsburg Kansan (Pittsburg, Kansas), December 8, 1892, page 4.

Interestingly, earlier that same year, a cartoon on the back cover of a 
Puck magazine expressed a kind of cynicism of "The American Boy's Dream 
of Greatness - The Old Ideals and the New."  It illustrated that, "The 
Boy of Other Days Dreamed of Becoming a Great General or Statesman," 
whereas, "The Boy of To-Day Dreams of Being a Big Monopolist or a 
High-Salaried Official.
Puck, Volume 31, Number 782, March 2, 1892, back cover illustration.

Still not quite the aspirational, individual "American Dream" 
represented (as I've always understood it) as the acquisition of a home, 
good career and better economic circumstances than one's parents (or 
something like that), all because of the personal freedoms and 
opportunities available by America's unique political system and 

------ Original Message ------
From: "Shapiro, Fred" <fred.shapiro at yale.edu>
To: ADS-L at listserv.uga.edu
Sent: 3/1/2019 1:08:56 PM
Subject: Antedating of "American Dream"

>---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       "Shapiro, Fred" <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
>Subject:      Antedating of "American Dream"
>American dream (OED 1916)
>1895 _Sunday Inter Ocean_ (Chicago), 28 Apr. 1895 in Sarah Churchwell _Beho=
>ld, America_ (2018) 25  Oh, critic and cynic, dreamer and doubter, behold A=
>merica, as this day she stands before her history and her heroes.  See her =
>millions of people, her free institutions, her equal laws, her generous opp=
>ortunities, her schoolhouses and her churches; you see misfortunes and defe=
>cts, for not yet is fully realized the American dream; you surely see her m=
>ighty progress toward the fulfillment of her philosophy.
>Fred Shapiro
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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