Popular sovereignty in the United States

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Popular sovereignty was a political doctrine in the United States that held that the people who lived in a state or region should decide what kind of government or laws they should have.[1] It allowed settlers of a territory to decide for themselves on the question of slavery without any interference from the federal government.[2] During 19th century it was a compromise used to determine if a western territory or new state would accept or reject slavery within its borders.[3]

It was first promoted in the 1840s. Stephen A. Douglas, one of the sponsors of the Kansas–Nebraska Act inserted it in the new law as a measure to balance slave and free states. Abraham Lincoln was one of those who did not agree.[2] He thought Congress should regulate federal territories.[2] The act was passed but popular sovereignty proved to have deadly consequences.[3] When Kansas was being considered for statehood, there was a rush by both people who were for and against slavery to go to Kansas and vote on the issue of slavery.[3] This resulted in a great deal of fraud and violence.[3] It led directly to Bleeding Kansas, the bloody border war over slavery.[1]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Popular Sovereignty". u-s-history.com. Retrieved 12 June 2016. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Lesson 3: The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854: Popular Sovereignty and the Political Polarization over Slavery". National Endowment for the Humanities. Retrieved 12 June 2016. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Zach Garrison. "Popular Sovereignty". Civil War on the Western Border. Retrieved 12 June 2016.