According to history, the tradition of pardoning a turkey bird by the POTUS predates the reign of President W.H Bush.
According to Wiki articles, the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation is a ceremony that takes place at the White House every year shortly before Thanksgiving. The President of the United States is presented with a live domestic turkey by the National Turkey Federation (NTF), usually males of the Broad Breasted White variety.
The early years also included a joint presentation with the Poultry and Egg National Board. The ceremony dates back to the 1940s, with presidents occasionally sparing the bird presented to them; during the Presidency of George H. W. Bush, it became a tradition (since carried on by all of Bush’s successors) for the president to issue a mock “pardon” to the turkey, sparing the turkey’s life.
It’s a tradition that the turkeys be picked from the chairperson of the NTF’s home state, occasionally from the chair’s own farm.
On various occasions, turkeys had been donated to the President as gifts from private citizens. Horace Vose, a Rhode Island turkey farmer, presented a turkey to the President each year from 1873 until his death in 1913.
The official presentation of a turkey to the President each year began in 1947 under President Harry Truman. The presentation was partially borne out of a lobbying campaign: the Truman Administration, in an effort to conserve grain for foreign aid campaigns, began promoting “Meatless Tuesdays” and “Poultryless Thursdays” in the autumn of 1947. Not only did American citizens quickly grow frustrated with the (voluntary, but strongly encouraged) restrictions and begin disregarding them in short order, the National Poultry and Egg Board, incensed at the attack on their industry, noted that not only was Thanksgiving on a Thursday (thus making the annual Thanksgiving turkey a taboo), but Christmas and New Year’s Day also landed on a Thursday that year.
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