Date of Publication


Degree Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Dr. John P. Daly, Associate Professor, History


This project traces the origins and continuing existence of the American Dream. The American Dream refers to the belief that hard work will result in success and upward mobility for future generations. In other words, American culture views each individual as the master of their own destiny, provided they work hard. Though America’s culture has changed drastically over the course of its history, and differs greatly between various groups, the American Dream is a concept which runs deep in the minds of Americans to this day. This project starts the American Dream’s timeline during the Protestant Reformation, then continues on to the Puritans of New England and the First Great Awakening, the start of the American public educational system, and the development of fame-obsession and celebrity culture. Importantly, this project will also show the manifestations and effects of the American Dream, including Public Mass Shootings.