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First promoted in the s in response to debates over western expansion, popular sovereignty argued that in a democracy, residents of a territory, and not the federal government, should be allowed to decide on slavery within their borders.
InStephen Douglas most famously attempted to implement the measure with the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Inthe Wilmot Proviso, which sought to forbid slavery in the territories acquired following the Mexican-American War, died on the floor of the Senate.
In an effort to prevent future prohibitive measures against slavery in the West, Democratic Senator Lewis Cass of Michigan, offered up the idea of popular sovereignty. In theory, as Cass and his supporters reasoned, in a democratic society free citizens determined the future.
But in practice, questions remained concerning how to determine who qualified as a resident of a territory, how to regulate voting fraud, and what would happen to slaveowners and their slaves in territories where slavery was voted down.
Still, by allowing the people to decide, Cass hoped to ease the building tensions between the Northern and Southern wings of the Democratic Party. Nonetheless, sectional debate and instability continued unabated. In order to avoid further threats of disunion, Senator Henry Clay devised the Compromise of as a final panacea.
A key component of the compromise was the implementation of popular sovereignty in the newly created Utah and New Mexico Territories. In this case, citizens in each territory were expected to vote on the slavery issue in the near future, and a climate unfavorable to plantation slavery made their votes non-controversial.
Although popular sovereignty—alongside the banning of the slave trade in Washington, D. The border between Kansas and Missouri became a hotbed of violence and intimidation. InDemocratic Senator Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois, hoped to once again employ the principles of popular sovereignty in order to address the slavery debate, this time in the Kansas and Nebraska territories.
Responding to the basic tenets of popular sovereignty, groups and organizations in both the North and the South encouraged and aided families and individuals to migrate to Kansas and sway the final vote.
The border between Kansas and Missouri became a hotbed of violence and intimidation, resulting in voter fraud and several antithetical constitutions proposed in Kansas.
In the aftermath, and within the context of growing sectionalism and conflicts over slavery, popular sovereignty was a victim of extremist politics that erased hopes for peace.
Rather than preserving the Union, the provisions instead led to further discord and violence that pushed the nation toward civil war.
Oxford University Press, The Rise of Popular sovereignty in England and America. Norton and Company, The Missouri-Kansas Conflict, The Kansas City Public Library. Accessed Sep, 16, at http:Popular sovereignty in 19 th century America emerged as a compromise strategy for determining whether a Western territory would permit or prohibit slavery.
First promoted in the s in response to debates over western expansion, popular sovereignty argued that in a democracy, residents of a territory, and not the federal government, should be allowed to decide on slavery within their borders. Popular sovereignty definition, the doctrine that sovereign power is vested in the people and that those chosen to govern, as trustees of such power, must exercise it in .
Popular sovereignty grew in popularity to such a point that the Founding Fathers included it in the U.S. Constitution, making it one of the six fundamental principles on which the Constitution is built. Popular sovereignty definition is - a doctrine in political theory that government is created by and subject to the will of the people.
Popular Sovereignty states that the source of governmental power lies with the people. It is one of the six principles upon which the US Constitution is built.
Popular sovereignty, also called Squatter Sovereignty, in U.S. history, a controversial political doctrine that the people of federal territories should decide for themselves whether their territories would enter the Union as free or slave states.