By: Nancy Salvato
In the beginning, what excited people most about traveling to the new world was freedom to practice their religion without persecution or being treated differently for not adhering to a state mandated religion. As time passed, people were compelled by the idea that they could grab a piece of land and create their own wealth. These two ideas best characterize the American dream, the freedom to have a set of beliefs and not be compelled to follow the group and the freedom to build wealth from a wing and a prayer. Our governing system evolved from these two important rights.
Our country suffered 25,000 casualties, not to mention as many wounded in the revolution to gain our freedom from England. Once we had tasted freedom, it was hard to imagine allowing ourselves to be ruled by a king and a parliament determined to wield their authority over colonies that had been essentially governing themselves independently for years. To be told where goods could be sold and where they could trade, to be taxed indiscriminately, to be tried in courts without a jury of peers…these ideas were recognized as unjust and intolerable.
With freedom came wealth and power. This is because in our country there was no built in ruling class or proletariat class. In America, people were not seen as belonging to any particular class and it was a given that anyone could make it. Andrew Jackson was the first president who exemplified that idea, having beat enormous odds. He was not born of wealth and despite having lost both parents before he was fifteen, survived fighting (under age) in the American Revolution, being imprisoned, and smallpox. Yet he managed to become a school teacher, and later a lawyer, before running for and being elected to the highest office in the land.