May 06, 2012 4:31 PM GMT
Lincoln took responsibility in August 1862 for failures that had been attributed to General George McClellan—eventually sacked for incompetence—and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Lincoln told a crowd that McClellan was not at fault for seeking more than Stanton could give, and “I stand here, as justice requires me to do, to take upon myself what has been charged upon the Secretary of War.”
Dwight Eisenhower is famous for having penned a statement to be issued in anticipation of the failure of the Normandy invasion that reads in relevant part: “My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
A week later, when the success of the invasion was apparent, Eisenhower saluted the Allied Expeditionary Forces: “One week ago this morning there was established through your coordinated efforts our first foothold in northwestern Europe. High as was my preinvasion confidence in your courage, skill and effectiveness . . . your accomplishments . . . have exceeded my brightest hopes.
Eisenhower did mention himself at the end: “I truly congratulate you upon a brilliantly successful beginning. . . . Liberty loving people everywhere would today like to join me in saying to you, ‘I am proud of you.’”