2 Replies Latest reply on Nov 25, 2020 12:41 PM by Laurie Austin

    Presidential Pardon for Turkeys?

    history fan Adventurer

      Was Harry Truman the first president to pardon a turkey at Thanksgiving?



        • Re: Presidential Pardon for Turkeys?
          Tammy Williams Adventurer

          Greetings from the Truman Library,


          Thank you for your question! The Truman Library has received many questions over the years for information confirming the story that President Harry S. Truman "pardoned" a Thanksgiving turkey in 1947, thus initiating a Presidential tradition that continues to this day.


          The Library's staff have found no documents, speeches, newspaper clippings, photographs, or other contemporary records in our holdings which refer to Truman pardoning a turkey that he received as a gift in 1947, or at any other time during his Presidency. Truman sometimes indicated to reporters that the turkeys he received were destined for the family dinner table. In any event, the Library has been unable to determine when the tradition of pardoning the turkey actually began.


          Various groups presented turkeys to President Truman, often during the Christmas season instead of at Thanksgiving. There seems to have been only one presentation a year, with the National Turkey Federation and the Poultry and Egg National Board as the organizations most frequently involved. These two groups were involved in the presentation pictured below, which took place on November 16, 1949. https://www.trumanlibrary.gov/photograph-records/73-3120


          President Harry S. Truman receiving a turkey

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