The Pursuit of the American Dream by African Americans, Native Americans, and the Working Class

The Pursuit of the American Dream by African Americans, Native Americans, and the Working Class

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America, for many, has long been a country where it was believed that you control your own destiny and prosperity. With hard work, persistence and struggle, success found in the “American Dream” can and will be achieved regardless of past social statuses and financial shortcomings. It is something that has rang true for most Americans, but certainly not without struggle. The late nineteenth century brought a great amount of obstacles to many groups of people living in America as they pursued comfort in social and economic aspects. The “American Dream” has long been a part of American society and culture. In particular, Native Americans, the working class, and African Americans have all experienced the struggle and accomplishment that comes with the “American dream”.
Native Americans faced many struggles in their efforts of achieving the “American Dream.” Shortly after the West became open for settlement, American discovery of some 350,000 Native Americans proved to be a problem for western settlers. Reservations were set up in North Dakota and Oklahoma in 1867 for Native Americans to live in, keeping western lands free of Native Americans. However, these two states in particular lacked soil rich enough to sustain plains Indians farming attempts. Even more, a gold strike in 1870 that brought whites to move into the reservations caused fights between Native Americans and whites. What most injured the Native American peoples was the near extinction of buffalo, a prime source of food, clothing, and tools for many of the Plains Indians. Buffaloes near extinction were, in part, due to Plains Indians overhunting them as a resource. But, in a strategy to further displace and weaken Native Americans, the army began killing millions of bu...


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... that despite the great obstacles they faced, the “American Dream” was something that was never left their minds and was absolutely attainable. This is not to say that it was by any means an easy task for African Americans, Native Americans, and the working class. The experiences for each group seems to hold a common theme of social and economic mobility during the late 19th century being incredibly slow, and at times, virtually unmoving. Reconsider that nearly thirty years after being freed and given citizenship, many African Americans were disenfranchised and being terrorized by the Ku Klux Klan and lynch mobs. Or for the Chinese immigrants, a group not discussed in this paper, who were prohibited from immigrating if they were to seek jobs as labor workers. In the face of impediments like these, the aim of “making it” in America was never lost among these groups.

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