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American Dream Essay, Research Paper


The American Dream can best be defined as a “city upon a hill.” ?City upon a hill can be defined as an ideology based on the premise that the individual’s loyalty and devotion to the nation-state surpass other individual or group interests,?1 or in simpler terms, being superior over other nations. The Civil War, the Imperialistic Race of the 19th Century, the Korean War, the Klu Klux Klan (KKK), and the Gulf War are all examples of the “American Dream” of superiority, and how it has played a major part in America?s history. Each American has a different idea of superiority, but never the less strive to achieve it, whatever it may be in. Americans have developed a very deep sense of their own superiority as a nation, whether it is in political, social or economic organizations. This pride in the American nation was based on a feeling that the national characteristics of Americans were somehow superior to all other nations.

Civil War

The Civil War, which split the United States, was two different view

points of gaining the “American Dream” in a new America. Both sides, North and South, felt their idea’s and philosophies were superior to those of the opposing side and therefore would benefit the country better and make it superior. Both North and South wanted to improve their country to have it reach the “American Dream”. Slavery was one of the most important issues, the North against, the South pro-slavery. The disagreement on slavery lead to difficulty in the concern of Westward expansion. ?The compromise of 1850 stated that California enters free, and New Mexico and Utah decided on their own which is giving them more state rights in which the South heavily supported. This compromise did not satisfy each side fully. The issue of State rights intensified by the issue of slavery because the Southern states felt they had the right to decide on their own about Slavery without Federal intervention.?2 It seems as though the Southern states felt that the “American dream” was out of their reach because they felt powerless and inferior within the Central government.

American Revolution

?The American Revolution may be regarded as America?s first powerful manifestation.?3 When the American Revolution was fought to break from Britain, the Southern States thought they would be treated as sovereign and free. With the State’s limited power, they felt as if the Federal government would become a monarchy. The Northern States wanted the “American dream” achieved for the whole country to be industrial, anti-slavery, and very federalist. Within these institutions they planned to make the U.S the most superior nation in the world. The South wanted to achieve the same ultimate goal for the U.S but with agricultural, pro- slavery, and states sovereignty institutions. These are the differences between both

sides in achieving “the American Dream.” In order to resolve the conflict of interests, North and South had to go to war to prove superiority thus proving which side is “the city upon the hill” in which the losing side would follow.

Imperialism in the 19th Century

?Any schemes to forcefully annex Canada and to unite the North American continent under the U.S flag had been rejected. At the time, there were many other nations looking to expand its empire such as Britain and Germany.?4 ?After the Civil War, Secretary of State Seward had negotiated a treaty to purchase the Virgin Islands from Denmark, but the senate rejected this treaty.?5 ?In 1859, the U.S annexed the Midway Islands in the South Pacific, and half the Samoan Islands; the other half belonging to Germany.?6 It is this idea of expansion therefore gaining power and superiority over other nations that proves the American Dream/City upon a hill being about superiority. ?The invasion of South Korea by North Korea was the opportunity the U.S needed to invade and de-communize North Korea, causing China to intervene therefore justifying the possible invasion of China.?7 ?When World War II ended, the U.S and U.S.S.R agreed to occupy Korea. North became communist, South became capitalist. The U.S and the United Nations recognized South Korea while the Soviet Union and its allies recognized North Korea.?8 ?On June 1950, the North Korean army with Soviet weapons invaded South Korea, in an attempt to take it over. The United States, taking great interest, appealed to the U.N to condemn the invasion and to send forces to liberate South Korea. The Soviet representative to the U.N was not present to veto due to the fact that the Soviet Union was protesting against the refusal to allow China to enter the UN. When the U.N forces under U.S command liberated South Korea, U.S president Truman ordered that the forces go beyond the initial mission of liberation, and invade North Korea. As the U.N forces advanced deeper into North Korea, China warned them to withdraw. The forces refused and on November 1950 were attacked by 200,000 Chinese soldiers. The U.N forces faced with a fresh enemy, retreated south of the 38th parallel.?9 ?In order to defeat the Chinese forces, Gen. MacArthur, commander of the forces, requested that China itself be attacked.?10 ?The Korean War was fought to get into North Korea for these main reasons: To decrease the Soviet influence in the time of Cold war so it would cause an increase in U.S influence, and to get into China which has the largest market in the world.?11 ?MacArthur, after invading North Korea and setting off the Chinese, wanted to directly attack China. Truman who wanted no risk of direct intervention by the Soviets, wanted strictly just to take North Korea and perhaps delay the invasion of China, since providing North Korea was taken.?12 The Korean War clearly showed that the United States was pursuing the “American Dream” in two ways, one was to gain influence, which in the time of the Cold War meant power. The other was for economic superiority over the rest of the world.

Klu Klux Klan ? KKK

?The Ku Klux Klan, originally formed on December 24 1865 in Pulaski, Tennessee, did then and it does now stand for white supremacy and superiority in politics, economics and society.?13 Although the Klan everywhere strongly preaches white supremacy, it focuses its attack on what they consider to be alien outsiders, particularly the Roman Catholic Church, which it believes is threatening traditional American ways and values. Despite their beliefs, they are Americans trying to achieve the “American dream”, being the idea of a “City upon a hill.” The goal of the KKK has always been to purify America of all non- whites, which they refer to as un-Americans. ?The idea of a “City upon a hill” originated with the Puritans and their idea of creating a perfect society in America, which would serve as model for the rest of the World to follow.?14 The KKK uses this original “American Dream” by interpreting it to fit their white supremacy ruling. The society they want to create is a pure white society that the rest of the world could follow. Their demand of white control clearly states that the KKK too has an “American Dream”, they too in their words and actions try to achieve the status of a “City upon a hill.”

The Gulf War

?The Gulf war showed that no nation should violate the interests of the United States.?15 ?After the re-unification of Germany in October 1990, ending the cold war, a large number of U.S forces were no longer needed.?16 ?When war broke out in January 16, 1991, and ended a few months afterwards in April with Iraq defeated, plans for a Middle East peace conference started immediately. The defeat of Iraq affirmed the U.S’s total control of the Middle East. With Iraqi aggression ceased, the U.S wanted to resolve the Israeli-Arab hostilities to therefore build a new post-cold war Middle East to meet American interests.? ?Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait violated American interests, with consequences following.?17 ?The defeat of Iraq deterred other Middle East nations from violating American interests thus bringing them together to work out some form of peace that will accommodate the U.S in the perhaps coming American dominated “New World Order.” It?s driving force, the idea of the “American Dream” of being a “City upon a hill.”?18


From the birth of America, to the present day America, the drive and the heart of America has always been the “American Dream”, to be superior. By looking at America today, the most powerful nation in the world, the dream has literally become a reality. The United States has always strived to be superior and it is today the most powerful nation in the world. The United States right now can not go much farther than it has already reached.


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