American Dream 2 Essay, Research Paper
The American Dream is the idea that all people in this country have a chance to achieve success and create a better life for their children but there are variations on this basic idea. For many people, the American dream means simply financial success, for others it is obtaining positions of power, and for still others it is freedom. Freedom can be viewed and obtained in many different ways. As seen in the following documents, Fredrick Douglass, the women behind The Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, and Amelia, a Lowell Factory Worker on Wage Slavery , freedom can be described in a variety of ways and different methods can be used to obtain it. Freedom can vary based on a certain individual s views, ethnicity, class, and gender. Frederick Douglass, the women of Seneca Falls Declaration, and the author of Amelia, a Lowell Factory Worker on Wage Slavery, all had dreams of freedom and equality; however, Douglass seeked freedom from the legal institution of slavery, the women of Seneca Falls wanted men and women to be considered equal, and the workers at Lowell Factory hoped for freedom from oppressive factory conditions.
As a slave, the legal, social, and religious aspects of slavery oppress Frederick Douglass, but he chose not to accept this system. Frederick Douglas, who was born a slave, did not have the privilege of this aforementioned freedom. Even though he was an exceptionally bright man, he was enslaved and persecuted because of his skin color. Despite his status, Douglass sees freedom from slavery in his future. As a young man, Douglass experienced several torturous events in his career as a slave. His slaveholders repeatedly whipped him and treated him as if he was an animal.
Three of these goads, from four to six feet long, he cut off, and trimmed up, with his large jack-knife. This done, he ordered me to take off my clothes. To this unreasonable order I made no reply, but sternly refused to take off my clothing. If you will beat me, you shall do so over my clothes. After many threats, which made no impression on me, he rushed at me with something of the savage fierceness of a walk, tore off the few and thinly worn clothes I had on, and proceeded to wear out. On my back, the heavy goads which he had cut from the gum tree (Douglass, 214).
This quote shows that Douglass is willing to oppose those who have power over him. He felt he did not receive the respect he deserved and wanted to become a free man and help others who were in the same position. Not only was Douglass an assertive individual, he was a brave man and stood up for his own rights as an individual. I now forgot my roots, and remembered my pledge to stand up in my own defense (Douglass, 242). Freedom was something that Douglass wanted and he was not willing to give anything up for his fight.
The women of Seneca Falls use the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions to expressed their beliefs about the current status of women and hoped to abolish the system of inequality between the genders. These women were trying to achieve equality through the expression and explanation of their beliefs. They felt oppressed in many different ways in regards to government issues, such as not being able to vote. Having no voice in government involvement caused women to be viewed as incapable of making decisions on important political manners. In marriage women were treated in the same respect as voting. If the women had her own income, she was forced to hand over her money because under marriage, she was considered civilly dead (Primus, 139). Not being allowed to purchase property and having the moral restraints placed upon them which men did not caused these women to begin to fight for equality. Abolishing this system of the women slaves was the dream that all these women wanted so badly. One of many of their resolutions was to have the same amount of virtue, delicacy, and refinement of behavior that is required of woman in the social state, should also be required of man (Primus, 140). The dream that these women wanted was, that women is man s equal (Primus, 140). In these last two quotes that were stated, women wanted to be equal to men. They wanted the same level of involvement with the government, able to obtain education, and have her rights to all their earned wages. In a way, the slaves in the eighteen forties were treated with the same respect as the women.
Amelia, and other Lowell factory workers, are subjected to poor working conditions and low wages, but hoped that labor reforms will help them achieve a better work environment. As a factory worker in the eighteen hundreds, many women were denied access to the means to succeed. For Amelia, her dream was to become financially independent and stable, but her factory job prevented this. In her case, she and other workers had to instead look for the freedom to achieve their goals. Working twelve-hour days and not having suitable living arrangements proved to be obstacles on the path to obtaining more equitable working conditions. Amelia and her peers were forced to sleep in a small comfortless, half ventilated apartment containing some half a dozen occupants (Primus, 207). This was just one example of the restraints, which was placed upon her. Amelia s dream was to receive improved working conditions and alter her abuses that were placed upon her such as the living arrangements. She stated that she will no longer submit to that arbitrary power which has for the last ten years been so abundantly exercised over us (Primus, 207). This is a very clear statement that pertains to the labor reform. She has been under the government for the past ten years, working her butt off and is asking that these rights be taken into consideration.
What is the American Dream? Looking back at the previous articles, it can be seen that the American Dream has several different meanings. Fredrick Douglass wanted freedom from his life of slave labor, the women of Seneca Falls wanted equality among men and women, and Amelia wanted freedom from oppressive factory conditions. The reality of these dreams is sometimes far beyond achievement but in these documents, all the dreams could be achieved.