This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal

The idea of a national holiday devoted to giving thanks is as old as the United States itself. George Washington was the first to declare that November 26 would be a day of "public thanksgiving," but it was Abraham Lincoln who declared that the holiday would be held on the last Thursday of November.

Contemporary White House Thanksgiving traditions include the presidential turkey pardoning, service projects, and a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. 

Celebrate Thanksgiving Thursday with throwbacks from almost 100 years ago. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt carves the Thanksgiving turkey on November 20, 1933.  (White House Photo)
President Harry Truman, gets a chip off of Plymouth Rock from the Bay State delegation of Massachusetts after he signed 1949 Thanksgiving Day proclamation, at White House, November 10, 1949. The Bay Staters also gave Truman a foil-wrapped turkey and a scroll with the story of the first Thanksgiving Day on it. (AP Photo)
Pat Nixon with the White House chefs in the kitchen, viewing the Thanksgiving turkey and vegetables, November 19, 1970. (U.S. National Archives )
George H.W. Bush celebrating Thanksgiving with the troops in Saudi Arabia during Desert Shield, November 22, 1990.  (U.S. National Archives )
Bill and Hillary Clinton help to prepare Thanksgiving dinner meals for the homeless at the Covenant Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., November 24, 1993. (U.S. National Archives )
Bill, Chelsea, and Hillary Clinton celebrate Thanksgiving in 1994. (Bill Clinton Twitter )
Bill and Chelsea Clinton join Camp Bondsteel's commanding officer, Task Force Falcon Commander Brig. Gen. Craig Peterson, for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner in Kosovo, Yugoslavia, November 23, 1999. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)
President George W. Bush holds up a turkey platter for U.S. troops at the Baghdad International Airport in Baghdad, Iraq, November 27, 2003. Bush paid a surprise Thanksgiving Day visit to American troops in Baghdad.  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
George W. Bush helps to serve Thanksgiving dinner at the Bob Hope Dining Facility at Baghdad International Airport, Iraq, November 27, 2003. (U.S. National Archives )
President Barack Obama with daughter Sasha and First Lady Michelle Obama with daughter Malia distribute food for Thanksgiving at Martha's Table, a food pantry in Washington, D.C., November 25, 2009. (White House Photo/Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama fist bumps executive pastry Chef Susie Morrison after sampling pies with First Lady Michelle Obama, ABC News' Robin Roberts, and executive Chef Cris Comerford in the White House kitchen, November 19, 2014.  (White House Photo/Pete Souza)
Barack Michelle, Sasha, and Malia Obama, and Craig Robinson, participate in a service project at the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C., November 21, 2012.  (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.

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