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The Notion of an American Dream

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The “American dream” is different for every person. To some it means financial success, to others it means freedom of expression, while others dream to practice their religion without fear. The “American dream” is a complex concept providing immigrants with the hope of better life. The U.S. government provides the environment and resources for everyone to pursue their dreams. Each year millions of people around the world apply for the Diversity Visa lottery program provided by the U.S. government, however only a few thousand people are lucky enough to come here. America is the place where people are judged by their achievements instead of having references or connections. The founding of the New World gave the religiously oppressed people hope to exercise their religious dreams. The non-stop conflicts in Europe between the Church and Protestants led many people to flee from their home countries.

Among the first settlers on the New World were the Protestants which were chased by the government in their countries. In the 18th century the religious conflicts led the founders to make the First Amendment in the American Constitution. The Amendment states that the U.S. government wouldn’t have a state-supported church. Today even though religious oppression seems like an ancient problem, it still exists. During the early 19th Century another major wave of immigration occurred. Majority of these newcomers came from Northwestern Europe. A large number of immigrants came from Ireland, Ireland was experiencing a famine in the mid-19th century which caused mass immigration to the United States. Also in the 19th century, the United States received millions of German immigrants. Many of them made their way to the present-day Midwest, many German immigrants bought farms or congregated in Midwest cities.

Around the mid-1800s, a significant number of Asian immigrants also settled in the United States. Lured by the California gold rush, almost 20,000 Chinese had immigrated to California by the early 1850s. The influx of newcomers resulted in anti-immigrant sentiment among certain factions of America’s native-born. The Anglo-Saxon Protestant population were very anti-immigrant claiming they could not become “Americanized”. The new immigrants were often seen as unwanted competition for job. many Catholic immigrants experienced harsh discrimination for their religious beliefs. In themed 1800s, the anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic American Party tried to severely limit immigration to the united states. All this discrimination and a depression after the civil war caused a slowdown in immigration, it also affected immigrants achieving the American dream.

Between the late 1800s and early 1900s, a time of rapid industrialization and urbanization, America received millions of immigrants. Beginning in the near the 1890s, most arrivals were from Central and Southeastern Europe. In the 1890s alone, nearly half a million Italians migrated to America, and by the early 1900s nearly 5 million had entered the United States. Jews from Eastern Europe arrived in large they were seeking America for the same reason the early settlers did to escape religious persecution. over 2 million Jews entered the United States between in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The outbreak of WW1 caused a rapid decline in immigration. In 1917, Congress enacted legislation requiring immigrants over 16 to pass a literacy test, and in the early 1920s immigration quotas were established. The Immigration Act of 1924 created a quota system that restricted entry to 2 percent of the total number of people of each nationality in America as of the 1890 national census–a system that favored immigrants from Western Europe. Acts like the immigration act of 1924 held American immigrants back from achieving the American dream.

Immigration began to plummet during the great depression and WW2 Between the 30s and 50s, America’s foreign population decreased by millions, or from around 11 to 6 percent, After WW2. Congress passed special legislation enabling refugees from Europe and the Soviet Union to enter the United States, one of the few times America would embrace refugees, after the communist revolution by Castro in Cuba, nearly hundreds of thousands of refugees from Cuba were granted admittance to the United States. These immigrants faced harsh segregation as most immigrated to the southern states were anti-Semitism was and somewhat is still high this greatly affected communist refugees, as they could often be seen as double agents, or “unwilling” to give up their home country’s beliefs. All this anti-Semitism held back refugees and immigrants to the united states achieving the American dream, a common theme in American history. During the cold war and more specifically in 1965, Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act, which did away with quotas based on nationality and allowed Americans to sponsor relatives from their countries of origin. Because of this act and former legislation, America experienced a shift in immigration patterns.

Today, the majority of U.S. immigrants come from Asia and Latin America rather than Europe. These immigrants still have a difficult time achieving the American dream often working for less than their state minimum wage, and becoming improvised barley being able to feed or clothe their own families let alone pay bills for basic needs. Yes, American immigrants have failed at achieving the American dream, not because of themselves but because of anti-Semitic views and unwilling government to provide support.

The “American dream” is different for every person. To some it means financial success, to others it means freedom of expression, while others dream to practice their religion without fear. The “American dream” is a complex concept providing immigrants with the hope of better life. Whether this is achieved depends on religion, race, sexual orientation or another useless reason America comes up with, the American dream has failed immigrants.

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The Notion Of An American Dream. (2018, September 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from
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