chapter  4
20 Pages

The New American Gospel

To the Four Gospels, so central to every phase and cycle of popular religion, nineteenth-century America added a fifth: the Gospel of Success. Added, not invented; for as the Greek dramatist Aeschylus had observed many centuries earlier, "Success is man's god." The theme of success, in various forms and guises, runs like a river through Western civilization. English writers like Adam Smith, "Diamond" Pitt, and Samuel Smiles were greatly admired in America. Despite all the hardships, the colonists made a success of their New World homes, and eventually formed an independent Republic. Americans came to believe that they could do anythingand indeed, they did. The concept of success moved from fact to myth.