John Sherman American Dream

1345 Words 6 Pages
The American Dream is the idea that anybody can become successful and powerful in America, which is commonly seen as the land of hopes, dreams, and opportunity. Regardless of the past and sometimes present, anybody can easily become somebody, as long as they have the discipline and willingness to commit and work hard for the future. However, based on the book Destiny of the Republic, which takes place post Civil War, the American Dream was not truly attainable by anybody. While existing socioeconomic status in families, allies, or unrelated achievements can give one a boost in power, the greatest factor that determined the attainability of the American Dream was one's dedication to success. Family played a large part in helping to elevate …show more content…
First and foremost, John Sherman is not described for his own individual accomplishments, but as an accessory to his war hero brother. This is not to say that John Sherman had no political success of his own, but his family’s name allowed him to rise quicker than those with less successful families. This also ties into the idea of socioeconomic status.
Socioeconomic status is defined as a “measure of combination of education, income and occupation”. Depending on a person’s socioeconomic background, they would either have a paved road to success, or they would have to trailblaze an entirely new route on their own. Wealthy and educated white men reaped the most benefits from their socioeconomic status at the time. Most wealthy white men at the time, were able to quickly rise to power through their money alone, and were able to create a status for themselves that could do much of their own work for them. For example, Roscoe Conkling, a senior senator who was “arguably the most powerful person in the country"(40). Ten years earlier, then President Grant had given Conkling, his most fiercely loyal supporter, control of the New York Customs
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For example, Frederick Douglas was able to overcome his humble beginnings as a slave. However, Douglas also worked hard, and eventually became a “human rights leader and marshal in the District of Columbia” (71). Although the war had given him more rights as an African American, racism was still everywhere. Even with the racial hierarchy, Douglas had gone from being “property” to a government official in the capital, demonstrating that his own perseverance had allowed him to succeed in a place where socioeconomic background and connections meant everything. Another example is James Garfield. At age forty-four, he had “already defied all odds. Born into extreme poverty… and fatherless before his second birthday, he had risen quickly through the layers of society” (8). Despite being raised in poverty and by a single mother, Garfield was able to succeed because of his dedication to learning. Garfield focused on self-improvement, “His fiercest competition was with himself” (26). His ultimate goal was “to master all lessons, to prove superior to every difficulty, to excel all competitors, to conquer and surpass himself” (26). Garfield, fueled by the desire to self improve, eventually became President of the United States. This accomplishment inspired many others, impressing a reported who noted that Garfield “sprung from the people… had

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