popular sovereignty

noun
1.
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 conformity with the general will.
2.
American History. (before the Civil War) a doctrine, held chiefly by the opponents of the abolitionists, that the people living in a territory should be free of federal interference in determining domestic policy, especially with respect to slavery.

Origin:
1840–50, Americanism

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World English Dictionary
popular sovereignty
 
n
(in the pre-Civil War US) the doctrine that the inhabitants of a territory should be free from federal interference in determining their own domestic policy, esp in deciding whether or not to allow slavery

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
Main Entry:  popular sovereignty
Part of Speech:  n
Definition:  the concept that political and legislative power resides with the citizens
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Example sentences
Their demands have for the most part revolved around questions of popular sovereignty.
So let us stick to this popular sovereignty,—this insidious popular sovereignty.
It is also and equally a commitment to popular sovereignty under law.
Here is set forth a recognition of popular sovereignty, the equality of men and their mutual rights and duties.
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