A sovereign is one who has authority to rule and who should have the power to exert that rule, and to keep it.
In America, the People have that basic governmental authority, because our founders understood it is one’s natural right to rule oneself, and naturally our responsibility to sparingly invest some of our powers in concert. We invest some of our sovereignty in state governments. States in turn invest some of their authority and power in national government. Conceptually, it can be pictured as a core, substrate, and surface, like a fruit, or baseball, or a planet.
The Declaration of Independence is the foundational charter for the United States of America and upon that foundation our federal Constitution is based. Both documents describe these three entities: the people, the states, and the nation.
That array of sovereignty, from its core of personal sovereignty, to states, and to the nation is done not to diminish the power of acting upon our own authority, but to protect it, according to principles that our founders called natural rights and natural law. Authority and power only flow in that direction, from the core outward, not from national government, to state government, to the person. In some circles, this essential governing principle for our nation is called subsidiarity.
By the social contract of our Declaration and Constitution, our nation is the limit to the extension of our sovereignty, just as those three examples, a fruit, or a baseball, or a planet, have their extensions to their limits. We do not have any right to declare ourselves a part of an extra-national government, nor to allow such an empire to have jurisdiction over us. Those impositions are not in our charter. Rather, as its title states, our Declaration of Independence defines us a nation of “free and independent states.”
Originally, as we are instructed by the natural law to which our Declaration refers, our sovereignty is given to each of us by God and not by each other. But unlike our Creator endowed rights to life, the liberty of our own pursuits, and our right to freely hold property, the duty of sovereignty is the corresponding positively mandated state and behavior of governance foremost by preventing the otherwise negative effects of human government upon these rights. To boil that down, life, liberty, and property holding are all about what we may be, free of government control; sovereignty is about how by morality we must voluntarily be, to control our government accordingly.
So, sovereignty comes from God, who invests it in each person, who in America, invests it in his state and in turn, to our nation. Our governments’ duties are all to be fulfilled to protect and not to disrupt that alignment and that flow of our sovereignty. Accordingly, government exists to guard that authority and power, not making it available to other powers, but preventing any and every such usurpation.