Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




It is the purpose of this paper to set forth the arguments both for and against the doctrine of Popular Sovereignty as upheld by Stephen Douglas in 1854 and to make a just evaluation of its validity. Because no better arguments exist than those set forth in the writings and speeches of the great leaders of the times, most of this paper will be given to a discussion of these arguments. The first section will be devoted to a study of the trend of opinion regarding the theory of Popular Sovereignty from the founding fathers, in the development of the Constitution, through the critical period of territorial growth and great compromises, to its culmination in the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and on through the crucial decade which followed. The trend of recent historians, their misguided vision and prejudices, will be treated in the opening paragraphs of the conclusion. Finally, the paper will end with an appropriate justification of Douglas and the doctrine of Popular Sovereignty.