Politics

A Brief History of Presidential Turkey Pardons

"Corn, I hereby grant you a full pardon."

President Trump's 2020 turkey pardon
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

This week, President Donald Trump pardoned a turkey named Corn, using the media gathering to also tout "America First" rhetoric and call COVID-19 "the China virus." In previous years, however, the playful affair was meant to be a respite from politics.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

The exact origin of the ceremony is somewhat contested. Lore of the practice dates back to Abraham Lincoln, who supposedly granted clemency to a turkey in 1863. But was it an official pardon? Historians say, not quite.