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First Official Turkey Pardon

In this photograph President George H. W. Bush stands in the Rose Garden during the first official turkey pardoning ceremony on November 17, 1989. Presidents and their families have received turkeys for the holidays as far back as the 1870s. However, the origin of the turkey pardon is said to have started with President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, after he offered a clemency to a turkey purchased for Christmas dinner at his son's request. The pardoning of a Thanksgiving turkey became a formalized tradition during the Ronald Reagan years before President Bush's first official pardoning in 1989.
Date of Work
November 17, 1989
George Bush Presidential Library and Museum/NARA