Popular Sovereignty


Popular sovereignty, or sovereignty of the peoples' rule, is the principle that the authority of a state and its government are created and sustained by the consent of its people, through their elected representatives, who are the source of all political power.

A government is the system by which a state or community is controlled.

Popular Sovereignty by Matthew V. Wolff


It is closely associated with social contract philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

In both moral and political philosophy, the social contract is a theory or model that originated during the Age of Enlightenment and usually concerns the legitimacy of the authority of the state over the individual.

John Locke was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "Father of Liberalism".

Thomas Hobbes, in some older texts Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, was an English philosopher who is considered one of the founders of modern political philosophy.

Popular Sovereignty by Cristina Aguilar


Popular sovereignty expresses a concept and does not necessarily reflect or describe a political reality.


The people have the final say in government decisions.


Benjamin Franklin expressed the concept when he wrote, "In free governments, the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns".


Americans founded their Revolution and government on popular sovereignty, but the term was also used in the 1850s to describe a highly controversial approach to slavery in the territories as propounded by senator Stephen A. Douglas.

Stephen Arnold Douglas was an American politician from Illinois and the designer of the Kansas–Nebraska Act.


It meant that local residents of a territory would be the ones to decide if slavery would be permitted, and it led to bloody warfare in Bleeding Kansas as abolitionists and proponents of slavery flooded Kansas territory in order to decide the elections.

Bleeding Kansas, Bloody Kansas or the Border War was a series of violent civil confrontations in the United States between 1854 and 1861 which emerged from a political and ideological debate over the legality of slavery in the proposed state of Kansas.


An earlier development of popular sovereignty arose from philosopher Francisco Suárez and became the basis for Latin American independence.

Francisco Suárez was a Spanish Jesuit priest, philosopher and theologian, one of the leading figures of the School of Salamanca movement, and generally regarded among the greatest scholastics after Thomas Aquinas.


Popular sovereignty also can be described as the voice of the people.

Vox populi is a Latin phrase that literally means "voice of the people".

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