popular sovereignty


Definition of popular sovereignty

1 : a doctrine in political theory that government is created by and subject to the will of the people
2 : 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

Examples of popular sovereignty in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Napoleon’s victory dealt a body blow to a European old regime already tottering from the spread of republicanism and popular sovereignty. Nathan Perl-rosenthal, WSJ, "‘Waves Across the South’ Review: New Kingdoms," 9 Apr. 2021 Granted, back then a jury made up of commoners was seen as the embodiment of democracy and popular sovereignty both in Revolutionary France and America. Henning Schroeder, Star Tribune, "A reasonable doubt about jury trials," 8 Mar. 2021 Otherwise, popular sovereignty collapses under the weight of its own contradictions. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, "Self-Interest Is Not Enough: Lincoln’s Classical Revision of the Founding," 18 Sep. 2020 There is also the democratic tradition, which at its core holds that matters of great public importance ought to be decided by the people—and that popular sovereignty should control the excesses of both public and private power. Ganesh Sitaraman, Wired, "The Progressive Case for a TikTok Sale," 18 Sep. 2020 The best response to the appeal of this kind of populism, Pistor suggests, would be a real demonstration of popular sovereignty. Adam Tooze, The New York Review of Books, "How ‘Big Law’ Makes Big Money," 28 Jan. 2020 Few better expressions exist of America’s founding principles of popular sovereignty, natural rights, and the separation of Church and state. David W. Blight, The Atlantic, "Frederick Douglass’s Vision for a Reborn America," 9 Nov. 2019 Daily Wire editor in chief Ben Shapiro argued that Walmart had bowed to social justice warriors and trampled on popular sovereignty (even though gun control is quite popular). Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "The Political Overreaction to Walmart’s P.R. Strategy," 5 Sep. 2019 The early history of the parties, then, was partially about securing popular sovereignty. Jay Cost, National Review, "Restoring Congress: The Parties Are a Solution," 17 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'popular sovereignty.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of popular sovereignty

1848, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of popular sovereignty was in 1848

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Last Updated

16 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Popular sovereignty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/popular%20sovereignty. Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on popular sovereignty

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about popular sovereignty

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