Last time we talked about the Human Rights President. Now with Thanksgiving coming we will talk about the “rights of turkeys”. How did the leaders of our great nation start this tradition of pardoning a turkey at Thanksgiving? My Victor crew looked it up at whitehouse.gov.
The president first credited with pardoning a turkey for Thanksgiving was George H. W. Bush in 1989. But was this the first turkey given a reprieve? According to whitehouse.gov, people have been sending the President turkeys since the 19th century. In fact, a man named Horace Vose would find the “noblest gobbler in all that little state” referring to Rhode Island. He did this for 25 years starting with Grant’s presidency. In 1947, the National Turkey Federation started supplying the President with turkeys.
Back during Lincoln’s presidency, his son Tad begged his dad to pardon a turkey. In 1963, President Kennedy sent that year’s gift back to the farm where it came from and said, “We’ll just let this one grow.” President Nixon sent the turkey to a petting farm near Washington although it wasn’t a formal pardon.
So on November 14, 1989, President George H. W. Bush was the first to formally grant a turkey a pardon. Ironically, it was sent to Frying Pan Park in Herndon, VA. This was the start of the tradition.
Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson ate their turkeys.