With the "sovereign citizen" movement all a buzz, those claiming that status should at least know what the term "sovereign" means, and how "sovereign citizen" is an oxymoron. (The following is mostly in chronological order)
The word “sovereign” is not found in the KJV. The Greek word “dynastēs,” (Strong’s #1413), which is translated as “Potentate” in the KJV, is translated as “Sovereign” in the following versions:
1 Timothy 6:15 (HCSB)
God will bring this about in His own time. ⌊He is⌋ the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords,
1 Timothy 6:15 (WEY)
For, as its appointed time, this will be brought about by the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
The Sovereignty Of God, Arthur Walkington Pink, 19181 Timothy 6:15 (ESV)
which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
The Sovereignty of God. What do we mean by this expression? We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the god-hood of God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him what doest Thou? (Daniel 4:35). To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Psalms 115:3). To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is "The Governor among the nations" (Psalms 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the "Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords" (1 Timothy 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible.
The Sovereignty of the God of Scripture is absolute, irresistible, infinite. When we say that God is Sovereign we affirm His right to govern the universe which He has made for His own glory, just as He pleases. We affirm that His right is the right of the Potter over the clay, i. e., that He may mold that clay into whatsoever form He chooses, fashioning out of the same lump one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor. We affirm that He is under no rule or law outside of His own will and nature, that God is a law unto Himself, and that He is under no obligation to give an account of His matters to any.
"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."
Articles of Confederation, 1777
Chisholm v. Georgia, John Jay, 1793II. Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.
III. The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever.
Webster’s Dictionary, 1828"...at the Revolution, the sovereignty devolved on the people; and they are truly the sovereigns of the country, but they are sovereigns without subjects...with none to govern but themselves; the citizens of America are equal as fellow citizens, and as joint tenants in the sovereignty."
Bank of Augusta v. Earle, 38 U.S. (13 Pet.) 519; 10 L.Ed. 274 (1839)SOVEREIGN, adjective suv'eran. [We retain this babarous orthography from the Norman sovereign The true spelling would be suveran from the Latin supernes, superus.]
1. Supreme in power; possessing supreme dominion; as a sovereign ruler of the universe.
2. Supreme; superior to all others; chief. God is the sovereign good of all who love and obey him.
3. Supremely efficacious; superior to all others; predominant; effectual; as a sovereign remedy.
4. Supreme; pertaining to the first magistrate of a nation; as sovereign authority.
SOVEREIGN, noun suv'eran.
1. A supreme lord or ruler; one who possesses the highest authority without control. Some earthly princes, kings and emperors are sovereigns in their dominions.
2. A supreme magistrate; a king.
3. A gold coin of England, value 20s or $4.44
SOVEREIGNLY, adverb suv'eranly. Supreme power; supremacy; the possession power. Absolute sovereignty belongs to God only.
Bouvier’s Dictionary of Law, 1856"The States between each other are sovereign and independent. They are distinct and separate sovereignties, except so far as they have parted with some of the attributes of sovereignty by the Constitution. They continue to be nations, with all their rights, and under all their national obligations, and with all the rights of nations in every particular; except in the surrender by each to the common purposes and objects of the Union, under the Constitution. The rights of each State, when not so yielded up, remain absolute."
Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 1886SOVEREIGN.
1. A chief ruler with supreme power; one possessing sovereignty. (q. v.) It is also applied to a king or other magistrate with limited powers.
2. In the United States the sovereignty resides in the body of the people. Vide Rutherf. Inst. 282.
One which governs itself independently of any foreign power.
1. The union and exercise of all human power possessed in a state; it is a combination of all power; it is the power to do everything in a state without accountability; to make laws, to execute and to apply them: to impose and collect taxes, and, levy, contributions; to make war or peace; to form treaties of alliance or of commerce with foreign nations, and the like. Story on the Const. §207.
2. Abstractedly, sovereignty resides in the body of the nation and belongs to the people. But these powers are generally exercised by delegation.
3. When analysed, sovereignty is naturally divided into three great powers; namely, the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary; the first is the power to make new laws, and to correct and repeal the old; the second is the power to execute the laws both at home and abroad; and the last is the power to apply the laws to particular facts; to judge the disputes which arise among the citizens, and to punish crimes.
4. Strictly speaking, in our republican forms of government, the absolute sovereignty of the nation is in the people of the nation; (q. v.) and the residuary sovereignty of each state, not granted to any of its public func tionaries, is in the people of the state. (q. v.) 2 Dall. 471; and vide, generally, 2 Dall. 433, 455; 3 Dall. 93; 1 Story, Const. §208; 1 Toull. n. 20 Merl. Reper. h. t.
Black's Law Dictionary, 1st Edition, 1891Sovereignty itself is, of course, not subject to law, for it is the author and source of law…While sovereign powers are delegated to…the government, sovereignty itself remains with the people.
Boyd v. State of Nebraska, 1892
The Century Dictionary, an Encyclopedic Lexicon of the English Language, 1895The words 'people of the United States' and 'citizens,' are synonymous terms, and mean the same thing. They both describe the political body who, according to our republican institutions, form the sovereignty, and who hold the power and conduct the government through their representatives. They are what we familiarly call the 'sovereign people,' and every citizen is one of this people, and a constituent member of this sovereignty. ...
Opening of the Jamestown Exposition, Norfolk, VA, Theodore Roosevelt, 1907
“We of this mighty western Republic have to grapple with the dangers that spring from popular self-government tried on a scale incomparably vaster than ever before in the history of mankind, and from an abounding material prosperity greater also than anything which the world has hitherto seen. As regards the first set of dangers, it behooves us to remember that men can never escape being governed. Either they must govern themselves or they must submit to being governed by others. If from lawlessness or fickleness, from folly or selfindulgence, they refuse to govern themselves then most assuredly in the end they will have to be governed from the outside. They can prevent the need of government from without only by showing they possess the power of government from within. A sovereign cannot make excuses for his failures; a sovereign must accept the responsibility for the exercise of power that inheres in him; and where, as is true in our Republic, the people are sovereign, then the people must show a sober understanding and a sane and steadfast purpose if they are to preserve that orderly liberty upon which as a foundation every republic must rest.”
HOOVEN & ALLISON CO. V. EVATT, 324 U.S. 652 (1945)
Black’s Law Dictionary, 4th Edition, 1951The term "United States" may be used in any one of several senses. It may be merely the name of a sovereign occupying the position analogous to that of other sovereigns in the family of nations. It may designate the territory over which the sovereignty of the United States extends, or it may be the collective name of the states which are united by and under the Constitution.
WEX Legal DictionarySovereignty.
The supreme, absolute, and uncontrollable power by which any independent state is governed; supreme political authority; paramount control of the constitution and frame of government and its administration; self sufficient source of political power, from which all specific political powers are derived; the international independence of a state, combined with the right and power of regulating its internal affairs without foreign dictation; also a political society, or state, which is sovereign and independent. Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 Dall. 455, 1 L.Ed. 440; Union Bank v. Hill, 3 Cold., Tenn 325; Moore v. Shaw, 17 Cal. 218, 79 Am.Dec. 123; State v. Dixon, 66 Mont. 76, 213 P. 227
Sovereignty is a political concept that refers to dominant power or supreme authority. In a monarchy, supreme power resides in the "sovereign", or king. In modern democracies, sovereign power rests with the people and is exercised through representative bodies such as Congress or Parliament. The Sovereign is the one who exercises power without limitation. Sovereignty is essentially the power to make laws, even as Blackstone defined it. The term also carries implications of autonomy; to have sovereign power is to be beyond the power of others to interfere.
Beyond lawmaking power, two other (often contentious) aspects of sovereignty are eminent domain (the right of the sovereign to take private property for public use) and sovereign immunity(which offers the sovereign protection from lawsuits).
Saint Thomas Aquinas:
Lysander Spooner:In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign.... Secondly, a just cause.... Thirdly ... a rightful intention.
The ostensible supporters of the Constitution, like the ostensible supporters of most other governments, are made up of three classes, viz.: 1. Knaves, a numerous and active class, who see in the government an instrument which they can use for their own aggrandizement or wealth. 2. Dupes—a large class, no doubt—each of whom, because he is allowed one voice out of millions in deciding what he may do with his own person and his own property, and because he is permitted to have the same voice in robbing, enslaving, and murdering others, that others have in robbing, enslaving, and murdering himself, is stupid enough to imagine that he is a “free man,” a “sovereign”; that this is “a free government”; “a government of equal rights,” “the best government on earth,” and such like absurdities. 3. A class who have some appreciation of the evils of government, but either do not see how to get rid of them, or do not choose to so far sacrifice their private interests as to give themselves seriously and earnestly to the work of making a change.
Ayn Rand:But this theory of our government is wholly different from the practical fact. The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: 'Your money, or your life.' And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat. The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the roadside, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful. The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a 'protector,' and that he takes men's money against their will, merely to enable him to 'protect' those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful 'sovereign,' on account of the 'protection' he affords you. He does not keep 'protecting' you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villanies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.
Thomas Paine:Individualism regards man -- every man -- as an independent, sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his nature as a rational being. Individualism holds that a civilized society, or any form of association, cooperation or peaceful co-existence among men, can be achieved only on the basis of the recognition of individual rights -- and that a group, as such, has no rights other than the individual rights of its members.
It has been thought a considerable advance towards establishing the principles of Freedom, to say, that government is a compact between those who govern and those that are governed: but this cannot be true, because it is putting the effect before the cause; for as man must have existed before governments existed, there necessarily was a time when governments did not exist, and consequently there could originally exist no governors to form such a compact with. The fact therefore must be, that the individuals themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right, entered into a compact with each other to produce a government: and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist.
James Madison:Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State.
John Adams:Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a FEDERAL, and not a NATIONAL constitution
All good government is and must be republican. But at the same time, you can or will agree with me, that there is not in lexicography a more fraudulent word... Are we not, my friend, in danger of rendering the word republican unpopular in this country by an indiscreet, indeterminate, and equivocal use of it? [...] Whenever I use the word republic with approbation, I mean a government in which the people have collectively, or by representation, an essential share in the sovereignty... the republican forms in Poland and Venice are much worse, and those of Holland and Bern very little better, than the monarchical form in France before the late revolution.
John Stuart Mill:If a majority are capable of preferring their own private interest, or that of their families, counties, and party, to that of the nation collectively, some provision must be made in the constitution, in favor of justice, to compel all to respect the common right, the public good, the universal law, in preference to all private and partial considerations... And that the desires of the majority of the people are often for injustice and inhumanity against the minority, is demonstrated by every page of history... To remedy the dangers attendant upon the arbitrary use of power, checks, however multiplied, will scarcely avail without an explicit admission some limitation of the right of the majority to exercise sovereign authority over the individual citizen... In popular governments [democracies], minorities [individuals] constantly run much greater risk of suffering from arbitrary power than in absolute monarchies...
Alexander Hamilton:The only part of the conduct of anyone for which he is amenable to society is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.
The attributes of sovereignty are now enjoyed by every state in the Union.
Justice Frank Cruise Haymond:But as the plan of the [Constitutional] convention aims only at a partial union or consolidation, the State governments would clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty which they before had, and which were not, by that act, EXCLUSIVELY delegated to the United States.
Abraham Lincoln:Unlike ordinary legislation, a constitution is enacted by the people themselves in their sovereign capacity and is therefore the paramount law.
Ezra Pound:A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism.
Walter E. Williams:Sovereignty inheres in the right to issue money. And the American sovereignty belongs by right to the people, and their representatives in Congress have the right to issue money and to determine the value thereof. And 120 million, 120 million suckers have lamentably failed to insist on the observation of this quite decided law. ... Now the point at which embezzlement of the nation's funds on the part of her officers becomes treason can probably be decided only by jurists, and not by hand-picked judges who support illegality.
James Monroe:Democracy and liberty are not the same. Democracy is little more than mob rule, while liberty refers to the sovereignty of the individual.
Nathaniel Branden:It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin.
Adolf Hitler:Individualism is at once an ethical-psychological concept and an ethical-political one. As an ethical-psychological concept, individualism holds that a human being should think and judge independently, respecting nothing more than the sovereignty of his or her mind; thus, it is intimately connected with the concept of autonomy. As an ethical-political concept, individualism upholds the supremacy of individual rights ...
Ralph Reiland:The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed the subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty.
Richard N. Gardner:At the start of this nation’s unique experiment with individual sovereignty and limited government, “Taxation without representation is tyranny” was the watchword of the American Revolution. For our Founding Fathers, a level of taxation of only a few cents on a dollar, siphoned off to a faraway and arrogant bureaucracy, was enough to ignite a revolution enough to grab the trusty musket off the wall. Today, in contrast, if we dare to startle the more panicky among us by buying a good rabbit gun, the government’s there at the cash register to check our papers and seize $46 on every $100.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds:In short, the 'house of world order' will have to be built from the bottom up rather than from the top down...An end run around national sovereignty, eroding it piece by piece, will accomplish much more than the old fashioned assault...
[T]he people as ultimate sovereigns, retain the ultimate power -- and even the duty -- to overthrow any government that fails to respect their authority.