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Turkeys receiving a presidential pardon date back to the days of Lincoln.

According to one story, Lincoln’s son, Tad, begged his father to write a presidential pardon for the bird meant for the family’s Christmas table. Tad argued that the turkey had as much of a right to live as anyone. Lincoln acquiesced and the turkey lived!

On November 14, 1989, President George H.W. Bush was the first to actually offer a turkey pardon. For more information, read The Definitive History of the Presidential Turkey Pardon and from the White House Archives: Thanksgiving with the Presidents.

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