Several modern presidents have publicly blamed their predecessor for at least one issue that occurred during their presidency: Trump, Obama, and Reagan are some examples. I am unsure of how historians view this behavior...but it does not elicit a positive response from contemporaries.

Likewise, is there any recorded documents of Lincoln publicly blaming Buchanan for any of the issues he faced?

Why Lincoln: He is consistently ranked among the greatest presidents of all time by historians. I was just curious if him blaming others added to or subtracted from his greatness from a historical perspective.

Why Buchanan: In the examples of Trump, Obama, and Reagan that I cited, the first two frequently blamed directly, or implied, that the problems they faced were their predecessors doing, the third (Reagan) had only one example I could find, but had an apparent way of styling himself in stark contrast to his predecessor. It is this pattern of contrasting/blaming the immediate predecessor that I applied to Lincoln.

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    I'll look into this if I get some time, but I think Lincoln's problems he started his term with were really far beyond blaming on one guy.
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 11, 2021 at 21:48

1 Answer 1


Unlikely. In the book "Abraham Lincoln. Speeches & Writings 1859-1865", Random House; Library of America, 1989 (which is a comprehensive collection of Lincoln's speeches and letters) James Buchanan is mentioned (by Lincoln) only once, in passing, in a letter to W.H.Wells regarding Lincoln-Douglas debates:

to support him or Buchanan, is simply to reach the same goal by only slightly different roads.

  • Did that volume you cite include Lincoln's speech at a Republican banquet in 1856? In it he refers to Buchanan by name twice. References to "The President" are meant to be JB as well I believe as JB has been elected but not yet sworn in yet. Of course this was before Lincoln was President so does not further the original question. teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/…
    – AllInOne
    Jan 12, 2021 at 14:49
  • Ah sorry, I now see that the book you cited covers specific years that were after the 1856 speech.
    – AllInOne
    Jan 12, 2021 at 14:55
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    @AllInOne: That would presumably be irrelevant to the question, as occurring not only before Lincoln became President, but even before Buchanan became President. Neither was a time traveler to the best of our knowledge. Jan 12, 2021 at 16:38
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    @AllInOne It talks about "the President"'s reaction to Buchanan being elected, naming Buchanan specifically. So "The President" is Pierce.
    – Spencer
    Jan 12, 2021 at 19:02

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