Buffalo Law Review

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The Gettysburg Address does not appear to be a legal argument. One cannot find a rule anywhere in its few words. Nor does there seem to be any application of a rule to the facts of the case. There is a simple reason for this absence: the law in 1863 was wrong. Lincoln knew that, but he was too much the lawyer to advocate law-breaking. Instead, he used all the skills he had learned from his years in the courtroom to urge his listeners to look beyond the law’s flaws to find the truth of the Declaration’s “self-evident truth.”