Definitions for popular sovereignty

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  1. Popular sovereignty

    Popular sovereignty or the sovereignty of the people is the principle that the authority of the government is created and sustained by the consent of its people, who are the source of all political power. It is closely associated with republicanism and social contract philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Popular sovereignty expresses a concept and does not necessarily reflect or describe a political reality. It is usually contrasted with the concept of parliamentary sovereignty, and with individual sovereignty. Benjamin Franklin expressed the concept when he wrote, "In free governments, the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns." The term "squatter sovereignty" is used by Jefferson Davis in his book A Short History of the Confederate States of America. This term referred to the influx of new citizens in order to manipulate the ultimate sovereign votes. At the 1860 Democratic National Convention, William L. Yancey used the phrase "squatter sovereignty" in a speech he gave. Popular sovereignty also can be described as the voice of the people.


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