popular sovereignty noun
: a doctrine in political theory that government is created by and subject to the will of the people
: a pre-Civil War doctrine asserting the right of the people living in a newly organized territory to decide by vote of their territorial legislature whether or not slavery would be permitted there
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Other Government and Politics Terms
popular sovereignty noun (Concise Encyclopedia)
Political doctrine that allowed the settlers of U.S. federal territories to decide whether to enter the Union as free or slave states. It was applied by Sen. Stephen A. Douglas as a means to reach a compromise through passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Critics of the doctrine called it squatter sovereignty. The resulting violence between pro- and antislavery factions (see Bleeding Kansas) showed its failure as a workable compromise. See also Dred Scott decision.
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