We the People

Lady Liberty Banner, late 18th-century


Boston Massacre print engraved by Paul Revere

The world that British colonists inherited was ruled by kings, hereditary aristocrats, appointed bishops, and wealthy gentlemen. The colonists decided to change that world. They chose something extraordinary and untried: To live without a monarch and titled aristocrats and base their government on the sovereignty of the people. This section of American Democracy will dramatically recapture the nation’s bold leap to popular sovereignty. It presents compelling historical artifacts associated with famous leaders and events as well as humble and unknown participants in those revolutionary times. 

This section also explores fundamental questions that the nation’s commitment to popular sovereignty immediately raised: Who were the people? And, how should those people make their voices heard by the government? Since the early days of the republic, every generation of Americans has grappled with these critical questions.