Not even the day's primary speech, Lincoln's carefully crafted address came to be seen as one of the greatest and most influential statements of American national purpose. In just 271 words, beginning with the now iconic phrase "Four score and seven years ago," referring to the signing of the Declaration of Independence 87 years earlier, Lincoln described the US as a nation "conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal," and represented the Civil War as a test that would determine whether such a nation, the Union sundered by the secession crisis, could endure. He extolled the sacrifices of those who died at Gettysburg in defense of those principles, and exhorted his listeners to resolve
that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Despite the prominent place of the speech in the history and popular culture of the United States, its exact wording is disputed. The five known manuscripts of the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln's hand differ in a number of details, and also differ from contemporary newspaper reprints of the speech. Neither is it clear where stood the platform from which Lincoln delivered the address. Modern scholarship locates the speakers' platform 40 yards (or more) away from the traditional site in Soldiers' National Cemetery at the Soldiers' National Monument, such that it stood entirely within the private, adjacent Evergreen Cemetery.