Popular Sovereignty - Who Gives the Government Its Power?

"We the people of the United States ... establish this Constitution for the United States of America." These words from the Preamble, or introduction, to the Constitution clearly spell out the source of the government's power. The Constitution rests on the idea of popular sovereignty - a government in which the people rule. As the nation changed and grew, popular sovereignty took on new meaning. A broader range of Americans shared in the power to govern themselves.

WE - the people of the United States - give the government our permission to govern. We can take that permission away!

  • popular - from the Latin term, populus, meaning "people"
  • sovereignty - ruling power