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From Lincoln to Obama: Thanksgivings at the White House

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

A meal shared by Pilgrims and Native Americans might get most of the credit for the creation of Thanksgiving, but it was President Abraham Lincoln who officially proclaimed the last Thursday in November a holiday in 1864.

147 years later, a number of odd presidential traditions have grown around the customary feast and semi-regular troop visits. This year, President Obama pardoned the official Thanksgiving turkey, named Liberty and its alternate, Peace, in a ceremony at the White House on Wednesday. Some pin the origins of the turkey pardoning tradition on Truman, but staff at the former president’s library haven’t found a scrap of documentation to prove that’s true.

In the slideshow below, see a collection of images documenting the presidents’ Thanksgiving celebrations — including shots of some turkeys who were lucky enough to receive a pardon … and others who weren’t.

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