Throughout its entire history, the American nation has never been steady – quite on the contrary; it has always been on the move. Whether people were concerned with the issue of rights and freedoms, therefore, creating a political movement, or were expanding their domain, which the Manifest Destiny and the expansion to the Pacific Ocean is a graphic example of.
This unceasing motion has predetermined and in many ways defined the nature of the American Dream, which can be interpreted as the desirable, yet unattainable goal, which moves forward together with the dreamer, therefore, making the latter evolve personally and at the same time contribute to the overall progress of the state.
It should be noted, though, that, much like the American Dream itself, the history of the settlement and movement –, especially movement! – Was quite controversial, particularly, the conquest of the West. As Limerick explained, “Conquest deeply affected both the conqueror and the conquered, just as slavery shaped the slaveholder and the slave” (Limerick 18).
Indeed, the fact that the American Dream and, therefore, the identity of the American nation was shaped by the unceasing process of conquering new lands, the very nature of the American Dream was shot through with the spirit of competition and lacked moderation.
The same can be said about the unceasing process of movement and the essence of the American belonging; defined by the former, the concept of the national identity was fractured from the very start by the fact that the force, which the nation was powered by, was destructive for the most part, and could rarely be defined as actually constructive.
Hence the uncertainty of the phenomenon of the American belonging stems from; it seems that the constant motion, which the American nation has been in, has led to the impossibility to locate the place that one can call their hearth and home.
Speaking of the concept of citizenship in the United States and the history thereof, the famous Frontier seems to have become the line drawn between the residents of the United States and immigrants. With the rates of the latter growing increasingly nowadays, this “line” seems to have become the natural way of preserving the authenticity of the American nation.
This authenticity, however, can still be questioned, since the Americans are often identified as the nation of immigrants; nevertheless, the contrast between the descendants of the settlers and the diaspora of immigrants remains strikingly obvious even nowadays.
In a way, this is a much more reasonable way of pursuing a dream; being a rather pragmatic nation, Americans realize that, once realized, a dream loses its unique quality of a miracle and becomes part and parcel of mundane life.
Because of the unique history of the American nation and the necessity for the American people to explore the new lands, as well as fight for the rights and freedoms, the key concepts defining the state were born in the clash of the concepts that might seem the exact opposite of each other, i.e., the process of conquest and the idea of liberty.
The resulting search for the national identity, which every citizen of America has to go through, is an echo of the key historic events that defined the course of the U.S. evolution. Therefore, for the American dream to remain alluring and magical, it needs to move forward together with the dreamer – as soon as one goal is met, another must emerge immediately so that bitter disappointment should not hit the wanderer.
Limerick, Patricia Nelson. The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.