Who hasn’t heard of Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech that starts with “Four score and seven years ago”? But what does it actually mean? How many years is 4 score? You may be surprised to find out that it’s not as simple as you might think.
The Meaning of “Four Score”
Let’s start with the basics. “Four score” means 80. A score is a unit of measure that equals 20, so four score is equal to 80 (4 x 20 = 80).
The Use of “Four Score” in Lincoln’s Speech
Now, let’s take a closer look at how “four score” is used in Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The full sentence reads, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
Lincoln delivered this speech on November 19, 1863. If you do the math, four score and seven years ago would be 87 years prior to that date. What happened 87 years prior? The signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
A Brief History of the Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson, with help from the committee including John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston, and it was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The document declared that the thirteen American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, were now independent states and no longer a part of the British Empire.
The Declaration paved the way for the creation of the United States of America, and it is considered one of the most important documents in American history.
Why Did Lincoln Use “Four Score and Seven Years Ago” in His Speech?
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was delivered during the American Civil War, a time of great division and upheaval in the country. The Union had just won a key battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and Lincoln was there to dedicate the cemetery for the soldiers who had died in the battle.
Lincoln used “four score and seven years ago” to frame the importance of the battle within the context of American history. He reminded the crowd of the ideals that the country was founded upon, and how the soldiers who had died at Gettysburg were fighting to preserve those ideals.
The Impact of the Gettysburg Address
Lincoln’s speech is considered one of the most important in American history, and it had a profound impact on the country. It helped to unify the North and the South and set the stage for Abraham Lincoln’s re-election in 1864. The Gettysburg Address is now remembered as a powerful reminder of the sacrifices made by those who fought for the ideals of freedom and equality in America.
Other Interesting Facts About the Term “Four Score”
- The term “score” has been used as a unit of measure for centuries. It comes from the Old Norse word “skor,” which means “notch” or “cut.”
- Another famous use of “four score” is in the opening line of the American Constitution. It reads, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
- There are other units of measure that are similar to a score. For example, a dozen is equal to 12, and a gross is equal to 144.
The term “four score” may seem like a simple one to understand, but it has a long and interesting history in American culture. From the Declaration of Independence to the Gettysburg Address, “four score” has been used to mark important events and remind us of the ideals that America was founded upon.
Common Questions and Answers about Four Score
- What does four score mean? – Four score means 80.
- Where did the term four score come from? – The term “score” has been used as a unit of measure for centuries. It comes from the Old Norse word “skor,” which means “notch” or “cut.”
- How is four score used in the Gettysburg Address? – Lincoln used “four score and seven years ago” to frame the importance of the battle within the context of American history. He reminded the crowd of the ideals that the country was founded upon, and how the soldiers who had died at Gettysburg were fighting to preserve those ideals.
- What happened four score and seven years ago? – Four score and seven years ago from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is 1776, the year the Declaration of Independence was signed.
- Gettysburg National Military Park. (n.d.). The Gettysburg Address. Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/gett/learn/historyculture/ga.htm
- National Archives. (n.d.). The Declaration of Independence: A History. Retrieved from https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-history
- Score (unit). (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved March 6, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Score_(unit)