The American Dream
Is the American Dream still alive? It’s in no way an easy question to answer, especially in times of economic and social turmoil. The country seems to be as divided as ever, with social classes, political agendas, and races all at odds with each other. With the growing conflict between the inner cities and their police forces, the widening gap of the economic classes, and the growing fear of a nuclear conflict, how could one even take the time to ponder America as the land of equal opportunity anymore? Prior to the succession of the Confederate states from the Union, America appeared to be a land of immense prospect, where anyone could go from rags to riches. But, there was a comparable divide to where the country was headed. Would America be a land where manual labor industry and agriculture, driven by slavery, be the primary driving force of the economy, or technical and machine-based manufacturing, backed by the expanding rail system, that would take the country into the 20th century. These two growing, and opposing ideologies embodied the two men who represented and lead the Union and Confederate states during the Civil War.
Robert E. Lee, general of the Northern Virginia Army, manifested the noblest elements of the aristocratic ideal that supported an agricultural driven economy. Through him a leisure class, backed by ownership of land, should lead the country. The riches such a man gained through agricultural profits meant that he would have an obligation to the community, based on the very fact they were privileged, and these obligations had been laid on them. Ulysses S. Grant, general of the Union, on the other hand, believed in a country where anyone who grew up hard, as he did, should have the same privileges as the leisure class. Success should be based on the privileges each man had earned for himself. Grant was a passionate believer that no man was born into anything, expect perhaps to a chance to prove how far he could rise through hard work and determination. These two ideologies went to battle during the Civil War, and the men who sacrificed their lives during the war, were ultimately fighting for which direction the country would head towards in the future.
The Union eventually defeated the Confederate states, and their archaic economic and social beliefs. The country later prospered during the second industrial revolution, with the support of the US rail system, and most importantly, the hard working American. Soon, Americans idolized men like John Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, who, through Grants conviction that all men are born with the equal chance to prove how far they...