What Is Popular Sovereignty?

The sovereign of the people or popular sovereignty is a significant principle in which nations reside, which means a state with a fully functioning government that is created by the leaders in charge with the consent of the citizens of that country. The people elect the leaders to represent them in the state, therefore the representative must follow the state of law acceptable to the people who chose them (government of the people). The expression “popular sovereignty” simply expresses a concept and does not always reflect or explain a political reality.

Benjamin Franklin, considered one of the founding fathers of the United States, wrote that the people have the last word in governmental and administrative decisions. In America, the term sovereign was used in a controversial approach to slavery in the region, as stated by a former senator named Stephen A Douglass. The declaration had a very distinct meaning that people living in the area should be those who decide whether slavery should be legal or not. An American philosopher Francisco Suarez instigated a previous sovereignty in which his rigid opinions led to the beginning of Latin American independence. In general, popular sovereignty means the voice of the people.


The idea of ​​popular sovereignty dates back to the mid-seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, through the famous writer Jean Rousseau. He was an important politician and an equality activist who, in his book entitled “Social Contract”, determined the beginning of the general will. The idea matured following popular sovereignty. The central ideology of the rule of law is based on the consent of the people governed by that particular administration.

Popular sovereignty in the United States

The application of this rule has been emphasized in the United States more than any other nation. Sovereignty goes back to American history from the written doctrine that explains how the struggle to apply the idea during those dark days. It was before the battle for slavery, which later led to the Civil War. A scientist named Donald S. Lutz cited some of the applications of the rule of sovereignty in the United States. Some of the doctrines stated that popular sovereignty is the system by which the supreme authority is placed under the control of the people.

However, there are a variety of ways to achieve popular freedom; one is that the role of legislation is entirely right to the people or citizens of the nation, and the other is through mediation whereby the representative of the people negotiates the people in power to find a more amicable way of living together. The American Revolution marked the beginning of the idea of ​​popular sovereignty and the same procedure was discussed and used in other continents and nations which in turn determined the historical context of Europe. Americans have changed sovereignty from being taken by a single person known as King George III in a system in which sovereignty is a collective effort of the people.


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