Evolution of the American Dream – Founding Fathers to Floundering Faith?
16, December 2016
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The American Dream has evolved for this country over time, shaped by several factors
that defined our borders and national identity. Perhaps it began with “We the People” and the
idea of self-governance, or maybe long before, with the hopes of the early colonists who landed
here looking for something better than the life they left behind. However it began, it is worth a
look to explore how it has evolved over the years - if it has - to better answer the question of
whether or not it is alive today for the average citizen, or just for a fortunate few.
A review of our history helps to show who we are as a nation, along with the realities that
influenced ideas behind the system of government that our founding fathers set in place
("Freedom To Worship"). What were the early settlers looking for which made it worth the risk
to cross an ocean to unknown territory? Many settlers came to pursue religious freedom
("Freedom To Worship"). It may be something we now take for granted, but at the time the idea
that freedom of worship as a fundamental human right was not to be taken for granted ("Freedom
To Worship"). The Protestant Reformation in Europe resulted in the formation of different
religious groups who practiced and worshipped as they saw fit ("Freedom To Worship"). As they
did they faced persecution, sometimes death in some cases from both religious and civil
authorities ("Freedom To Worship").
Yet despite persecution, men and women refused to compromise their beliefs and many
fled Europe to settle the New England colonies ("Freedom To Worship"). Looking for an escape
from intolerance and a place of religious refuge, the New England colonies of New Jersey,
Maryland and Pennsylvania were established as “plantations of religion” ("Freedom To
Worship"). Europe was full of religious intolerance because the view at the time was that only
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one religion must exist in each society, and that it was the duty of civil authorities to enforce one
view, in the interest of saving the souls of all citizens ("Freedom To Worship").
The dream of a man named Roger Williams is significant because he embodied the
principle of religious freedom and tolerance ("Roger Williams"). Founder of the new colony of
Rhode Island in colonial America, he was a nonconformist and he believed in the principle of
separation of church and state and religious freedom ("Roger Williams"). Rhode Island became
home for Baptists, Quakers, Jews and other religious minorities, and the idea of separation of
church and state was eventually incorporated into the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights
While some immigrants came for the promise of religious freedom, many also held high
hopes for a better life for themselves and for generations to come ("Freedom From Want"). The
Declaration of Independence highlights the idea that not only all...