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Keiser University eCampus
Adapted from: The American Dream: Overview. (2007). In A. M. Hacht (Ed.), Literary Themes for Students:
The American Dream (Vol. 1, pp. 3-23). Detroit: Gale. Retrieved from http://ic.galegroup.com
Origins of the American Dream
The Plymouth Colony
August, 1620: The Mayflower set sail from
Plymouth, England, with 102 passengers
40 of them were Protestant Separatists, who
called themselves “Saints.”
October, 1620: The Mayflower arrived in the
New World, and the Plymouth Colony was
William Bradford was one of the Saints, and he
eventually became the governor of the Plymouth
Text of the Mayflower Compact - 1620
… solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another,
covenant and combine ourselves together into a civill body politick, for our
better ordering and preservation, and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and
by virtue hereof to enacte, constitute, and frame such just and equall laws,
ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be
thought most meete and convenient for the generall good of the Colonie
unto which we promise all due submission and obedience …
Facts to note:
1. The Mayflower Compact established a system of government and
pledged allegiance to the King of England.
2. The Compact expressed the idea that people needed to work together for
the common good.
3. It also expressed their commitment to America and its promise.
4. There is also an emphasis on God.
Events Leading to American
Boston Tea Party (1773): Rebellion by the Sons of Liberty, a group that
included Samuel Adams and about 100 other Bostonians. More than 300
chests of tea were dumped into Boston Harbor to protest tea taxes.
Patriots: colonists committed to gaining independence from Great Britain
Loyalists (or Tories): colonists devoted to English rule
The British retaliated by closing Boston Harbor to all shipments except food
and firewood. Town Hall meetings were also banned.
Events Leading to American
September 5, 1774: The first
Continental Congress was convened
at Carpenters’ Hall in Philadelphia.
Delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies
met to discuss and document their
grievances with Great Britain.
Georgia was the only colony not to
Tensions continued to build between the colonies and the British.
Following the Boston Tea Party, the British instituted military rule in
Massachusetts and forced its residents to house British soldiers.
Massachusetts began forming its own militia.
Events Leading to American
April 18, 1775: British soldiers marched from Boston to Concord, where
the Patriots had a cache of weapons.
Revere and William Dawes rode on
horseback ahead of the British, warning the
colonists of the impending British action.
Paul Revere devised a signal for fellow
Patriots to use to let the colonists know
which route the British soldiers were taking.
They were to light lanterns in the Old North
Church: one if by land, and two if by sea.
The Shot Heard ‘Round the World
April 19, 1775: The British arrived at Lexington. About 50 Patriots had
gathered. It’s not clear who fired the first shot, but when it was over, eight
Patriots were killed. The British continued to Concord, where more
casualties occurred (on both sides). The war had begun.
America’s Path to Independence
January, 1776: Thomas
Paine publishes Common
Early summer, 1776:
eight colonies support
June, 1776: The
committee of five
work on the
July 4, 1776: The
was debated by
The committee of five: John Adams, Roger Sherman,
Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, and Thomas
Jefferson. Franklin wrote the primary draft of the
Declaration of Independence.
Common Sense: Paine’s pamphlet
laying out reasons for American
Declaration of Independence- 1776
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that
they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that
among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure
these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just
powers from the consent of the governed…
The Declaration of Independence emphasizes equality and the belief that
everyone can achieve liberty and happiness. This is the heart of the
American Dream. As in the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of
Independence establishes a government to secure those rights and
contains a clear focus on God.
The American Dream via Expansion
and Land Ownership
By the 1800s, the American Dream had
become associated with land ownership.
Manifest Destiny: America was
“destined” to expand from the East coast
to the West coast.
The American Pioneer
Laura Ingalls WilderDaniel Boone
People such as Daniel Boone made
their way across unexplored territory.
Laura Ingalls Wilder and her
contemporaries exemplify the free-
spirited, hard-working pioneer.
Community and individual dreams
came together for the common goals of
settlement and survival.