The American Dream It is the intent of this paper to prove that the “American Dream” can best be explained as a “ciity upon a hill.” “Ciity upon a hill” meaning being above and superior over those below. The Civil War, the imperialistic race of the 19th century, the Korean War, the KKK, and the Gulf War are all examples of the “American Dream” of superiority playing a part in American History. Each American has a different idea of this superiority, but nonetheless strive to achieve it, whatever it may be in. The Civil War which split the United States, was a clash of two aspects of approaching the “American Dream” in a young America. Both sides felt their idea’s and philosophies were superior to those of the opposing side and therefore would benefit the country more and make it superior. Both North and South wanted to better the country to have it achieve the “American Dream”.
Unfortunately, each side had a different perspective on how to approach it. Slavery was a major issue, the North against, the South pro. The disagreement on slavery lead to difficulty in the issue of Westward expansion. Both agreed to it, but whether to admit them as free or slave states was where the split occurred. The compromise of 1850 stated that California enters free, and New Mexico and Utah decided on their own which is giving them more state rights in which the South heavily supported.
This compromise did not satisfy each side fully. The issue of State rights intensified by the issue of slavery because the Southern states felt they had the right to decide on their own about Slavery without Federal intervention. It seems the Southern states felt that the “American dream” was out of their reach because they felt powerless and inferior with the Central government. When the American revolution was fought to break from Britain, the Southern States thought they would be treated as sovereign and free. With the State’s limited power, they felt as if the Federal government would become a monarchy. The Northern States wanted the “American dream” achieved for the whole country to be industrial, anti-slavery, and very federalist.
Upon these institutions they planned to make the U.S a superior nation in the world. The South wanted to achieve the same ultimate goal for the U.S but with agricultural, pro- slavery, and states sovereignty institutions. These are the differences between both sides in achieving “the American Dream.” In order to resolve the conflict of interests, North and South had to go to war to prove superiority thus proving which side is “the ciity upon the hill” in which the losing side would follow. During the time of Imperialism in the 19th century, the U.S wanted to expand worldwide and strive for the lead in the “imperialistic race.” In 1871, the U.S and Canada signed the Washington treaty meaning that the U.S recognized Canada as an independent dominion. Any schemes to forcefully annex Canada and to unite the North American continent under the U.S flag had been rejected.
The U.S could not expand any further in North America and had to look at other parts of the world for expansion. At the time, there were many other nations looking to expand its empire such as Britain and Germany. Some Southern expansionists saw Cuba as an interest because it could have possibly been used as a slave territory. Because Northerners were highly against slavery, the plan was dropped. After the Civil War, Secretary of State Seward had negotiated a treaty to purchase the virgin Islands from Denmark, but the senate rejected this treaty. They were not purchased until 1917.
In 1859, the U.S annexed the Midway Islands in the South Pacific, and half the Samoan Islands; the other half belonging to Germany. Hawaii, another Pacific island, had always been important to the U.S. It served as an important base for trade with Japan and China. When the U.S annexed Hawaii in 1893 after a coup, to justify it, the U.S claimed it was an important strategic military foothold. They also claimed that the inferior Hawaiian natives were incapable of self government, and that it was in their best interests.
After the annexation of Hawaii, and later the Philippines in 1899, it seemed clear the U.S was relentless in becoming the most powerful imperialistic nation. It is this idea of expansion thus gaining power and superiority over other nations that proves the “American Dream”/”Ciity upon a hill” being about superiority. The invasion of South Korea by North Korea was the opportunity the U.S needed to invade and de-communize North Korea thus causing China to intervene therefore justifying the possible invasion of China. When World War II ended, the U.S and U.S.S.R agreed to occupy Korea. The U.S occupied south of the 38th parallel, and the U.S.S.R North.
Both sides wanted Korea to be united, the U.S.S.R wanted it under communism, and the U.S capitalism. They were split. North became communist, South became capitalist. South Korea was recognized by the U.S and the United Nations while North Korea was recognized by the Soviet Union and its allies. There were many tensions between the Koreas.
On June 1950, the North Korean army with Soviet weapons invaded South Korea, in an attempt to take it over. The United States, taking great interest, appealed to the U.N to condemn the invasion and to send forces to liberate South Korea. The Soviet representative to the U.N was not present to veto due to the fact that the Soviet Union was protesting against the refusal to allow China to enter the U.N. When the U.N forces under U.S command liberated South Korea, U.S president Truman ordered that the forces go beyond the initial mission of liberation, and invade North Korea. As the U.N forces advanced deeper into North Korea, China warned them to withdraw.
The forces refused and on November 1950 were attacked by 200,000 Chinese soldiers. The U.N forces faced with a fresh enemy, retreated south of the 38th parallel. In order to defeat the Chinese forces, Gen. MacArthur, commander of the forces, requested that China itself be attacked. Truman rejected the idea with the fear of getting the U.S.S.R directly involved thus setting the stage for World War III.
The Korean War was fought to get into North Korea for these main reasons: To decrease the Soviet influence in the time of Cold war thus increasing U.S influence, and to get into China which has the largest market in the world. MacArthur and Truman both had these objectives in mind but wanted to approach them differently. MacArthur, after invading North Korea and setting off the Chinese, wanted to directly attack China. Truman who wanted no risk of direct intervention by the Soviets, wanted strictly just to take North Korea and perhaps delay the invasion of China, since providing North Korea was taken, China is just a doorstep away. The Korean war clearly showed that the United States was pursuing the “American Dream” in two ways, one was to gain influence which in the time of the Cold War meant power.
The other was for economic superiority over the rest of the world with the colossal Chinese market directly bordering coincide what the U.S wanted, North Korea. The Ku Klux Klan, originally formed on December 24 1865 in Pulaski, Tennessee, did then and does now stand for white supremacy and superiority in politics, economics and society. Although the klan everywhere fiercely preaches white supremacy, it focuses its attack on what they consider to be alien outsiders, particularly the Roman Catholic Church, which it believes is threatening traditional American ways and values. Despite their beliefs, they are Americans trying to achieve the “American dream”, being the idea of a “Ciity upon a hill.” The goal of the KKK has always been to purify America of all non- whites which they refer to as un-Americans. The KKK sees themselves as the only real Americans. The idea of a “Ciity upon a hill” originated with the Puritans and their idea of creating a perfect society in America which would serve as model for the rest of the World to follow. The KKK uses this original “American Dream” by interpreting it to fit their white supremacy mandate.
The society they want to create is a pure white society that the rest of the world could follow. Their mandate of White supremacy clearly states that the KKK too has an “American Dream”, they too in their words and actions try to achieve the “Ciity upon a hill” status. Whether their goals are wrong or right, their efforts to ultimately make the white race and their traditional American beliefs superior over what they consider below them, is a clear example of the American Dream/”Ciity upon a hill” being all about superiority, no matter how it may be. The Gulf war showed that no nation should violate the interests of the United States. After the re-unification of Germany in October 1990, ending the cold war, a large number of U.S forces were no longer needed.
Conveniently, at the same time, after the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, the U.S had the perfect place to move its forces where they were needed for a deterrent to Iraq of invading other neighbouring countries. When war broke out in January 16, 1991, and ended a few months afterwards in April with Iraq defeated, plans for a Middle East peace conference started immediately. The defeat of Iraq affirmed the U.S’s total control of the Middle East. With Iraqi aggression ceased, the U.S wanted to resolve the Israeli-Arab hostilities to therefore build a new post-cold war Middle East to meet American interests. Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait violated American interests, with consequences following. The defeat of Iraq deterred other Middle East nations from violating American interests thus bringing them together to work out some form of peace that will accommodate the U.S in the perhaps coming American dominated “New World Order.” The U.S in bring to parties that hate each other — Arabs and Israelis — to a peace table for U.S interests shows that the U.S is a superior dominant force in the World.
Its driving force, the idea of the “American Dream” of being a “Ciity upon a hill.” This means to be the best, to be superior, which the U.S has clearly shown in the Middle East. From the birth of America, to America today, the driving force and the heart of America has always been the “American Dream.” By looking at America today, the most powerful nation in the world, the dream has literally become a reality. The United States has always strived to be superior and it is today the most powerful nation in the world. The United States right now can not go much farther than it has already reached. If it tries to go beyond the dream, it could become a nightmare.