Four Families and their Quest for the American Dream: 1630 – 2000

David Stuart, SAR Senior Scholar

Colloquium, SAR Boardroom

Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 12:00–1:00 pm, Free

David E. StuartDavid E. StuartPhotograph by Jason S. OrdazDavid E. StuartPhotograph by Jason S. Ordaz

Four Families and their Quest for the American Dream: 1630 – 2000

As immigrants arrived in early European colonies, they not only disrupted Native American worlds on the Atlantic seaboard, but also struggled to find new ways of adapting to both unfamiliar and highly fluid social, economic, political, and ecological realms. This was in stark contrast to the rather rigid worlds from which they migrated.

Success meant discovering and pursuing patterns of behavior that allowed them to survive, reproduce, and, if successful, better their lot. Because society, population, and technology kept changing, it meant reinventing the patterns every few generations. Later this process would be labeled the American dream, a moving target in the rapidly evolving early America. In this first presentation of his current senior scholar research, Stuart introduces you to three of the four families he is researching: the Vandergrifts of New Amsterdam (Dutch West Indies ship captains), the Harts of Flushing, Long Island (master carpenters), and the Goldsboroughs of Maryland's Eastern shore (powerful tobacco planters and slave owners). Each family pursued distinctly different paths in their quest for the American dream.

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