Slavery in the Nineteenth Century

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Popular Sovereignty Significance

What is the significance of popular sovereignty in the history of the United States?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Popular sovereignty is the belief that people make decisions about laws and their government when a democracy is in place, and the control is ruled "by the people, for the people." Citizens have control, generally through voting for government officials who will represent their best interests.

In other words:

...[it] is the belief that the legitimacy of the state is created by the will or consent of its people, who are the source of all political power.

The concept is linked to social philosophers such as John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Hobbes in the 1700s. It was also verbalized by...

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Yojana_Thapa | Student

Popular Sovereignty was a political doctrine that the United States subscribed during the mid-nineteenth century, which stated that the settlers of a given territory would have the sole right to decide whether or not slavery would be permitted there. The First proponent of this principle was Senator Lewis, who put the idea forward opposing the Wilmot Proviso. But, Senator Stephen A. Douglas was the leading proponent of popular sovereignty in 1854 because he popularized it. The principle Popular Sovereignty was conjured in the Compromise of 1850 and later in the Kansas Nebraska Act that took place in 1854. The events in “Bleeding Kansas” exposed the weakness of the doctrine.

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