Its beginning phrase, “four score and seven years ago,” has become so well known that it’s almost risen to the level of folklore. These six words are a key to what Lincoln is doing with the remaining 272: He deliberately sets a formal, deliberate tone, while avoiding the obvious or colloquial (“87 years ago”), and choosing to echo a biblical phrasing (Psalms: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten”). The deliberate archaizing of the phrase also amounts to a call to attention.
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