Sovereignty  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Sovereignty is the exclusive right to complete political (e.g. legislative, judicial, and/or executive) authority over an area of governance, people, or oneself. A sovereign is the supreme lawmaking authority, subject to no other. Some people may argue that this authority is the head of state. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in Book III, Chapter I of his 1763 treatise Of the Social Contract, argued that "the growth of the State giving the trustees of public authority more temptations and means to abuse their power, the more the Government has to have force to contain the people, the more force the Sovereign should have in turn in order to contain the Government," with the understanding that the Sovereign is "a collective being" (Book II, Chapter I) resulting from "the general will" of the people, and that "what any man, whoever he may be, orders on his own, is not a law" (Book II, Chapter VI) - and furthermore predicated on the assumption that the people have an unbiased means by which to ascertain the general will. Thus the legal maxim, "there is no law without a sovereign."

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