What reference does Abraham Lincoln make to the Declaration of Independence in the Gettysburg Address?
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The most specific reference to the Declaration is made in the opening sentence, "Four score and seven years ago..." The year Lincoln refers to is 1776, when the thirteen colonies formally declared their independence from Britain. He then proceeds to say that the people who created the nation did so on the principle that "all men are created equal," a direct quote from the Declaration. More generally, Lincoln references the Declaration indirectly by characterizing the Civil War as a "new birth of freedom" (with the Declaration being the first birth of freedom.) Furthermore, Lincoln's references to government by the people echo some of the liberal rhetoric of the Declaration. The idea Lincoln wants to convey is that the struggle is about determining whether a government based on the will of the people can survive a civil war. It was, of course, the Declaration that first announced the principles of the new government to the world.
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