[Ads-l] Antedating of "American Dream"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Mar 1 23:44:26 UTC 2019

I think multiple definitions are possible for "the American Dream".
Here is the definition chosen by the editors of the Oxford English

[Begin excerpt]
American dream n. (also American Dream) (with the) the ideal that
every citizen of the United States should have an equal opportunity to
achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and
[End except]

On Fri, Mar 1, 2019 at 6:28 PM Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:
> 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
> circumstances.
> ------ 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

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

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