George Washington held multiple Thanksgiving celebrationsSource: Pinterest
John Adams declared two days of thanksgiving in the springSource: Wikimedia
I do hereby recommend accordingly, that Thursday, the 25th day of April next, be observed throughout the United States of America as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens on that day abstain as far as may be from their secular occupations, devote the time to the sacred duties of religion in public and in private; that they call to mind our numerous offenses against the Most High God, confess them before Him with the sincerest penitence, implore His pardoning mercy, through the Great Mediator and Redeemer, for our past transgressions, and that through the grace of His Holy Spirit we may be disposed and enabled to yield a more suitable obedience to His righteous requisitions in time to come.
Thomas Jefferson was not a fan of ThanksgivingSource: Newsday
James Madison declared three different thanksgiving holidaysSource: Biography
No people ought to feel greater obligations to celebrate the goodness of the Great Disposer of Events of the Destiny of Nations than the people of the United States. His kind providence originally conducted them to one of the best portions of the dwelling place allotted for the great family of the human race.
John Quincy Adams wasn’t into ThanksgivingSource: Sothebys
John Tyler proposes a spring Thanksgiving in honor of a former presidentSource: Britannica
When a Christian people feel themselves to be overtaken by a great public calamity, it becomes them to humble themselves under the dispensation of Divine Providence ... to the end that on that day we may all with one accord join in humble and reverential approach to Him in whose hands we are, invoking Him to inspire us with a proper spirit and temper of heart and mind under these frowns of His providence and still to bestow His gracious benedictions upon our Government and our country.
James K. Polk hosted the first White House Thanksgiving dinnerSource: Britannica
Presidents Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan were not hot on ThanksgivingSource: Wikipedia
... a festival which will never become obsolete, for it cherishes the best affections of the heart---the social and domestic ties. It calls together the dispersed members of the family circle, and brings plenty, joy and gladness to the dwellings of the poor and lowly.
Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving into a national holidaySource: ThoughtCo
... a live turkey had been brought home for the Christmas dinner, but [Lincoln's son, Tad] interceded in behalf of its life ... [Tad's] plea was admitted and the turkey's life spared.
Andrew Johnson began the Thanksgiving shell gameSource: The Conversation
Ulysses S. Grant gave a kind Thanksgiving blessingSource: Irish Central
The procession of the seasons has again enabled the husbandman to garner the fruits of successful toil. Industry has been generally well awarded. We are at peace with all nations, and tranquility, with few exceptions, prevails at home. Within the past year we have in the main been free from the ills which elsewhere have affected our kind ... I therefore recommend that on Thursday, the 30th day of November next, the people meet in their respective places of worship, and there make the usual acknowledgments to Almighty God for the blessings he has conferred upon them; for their merciful exemption from evil, and invoke His protection and kindness for their less fortunate brethren whom, in His wisdom he has deemed it best to chastise.
Rutherford B. Hayes hosted a White House dinner for his staffSource: White House
Chester A. Arthur gave a blessing after President Garfield passed in 1881Source: Reddit
The prevalence of health, the fullness of the harvests, the stability of peace and order, the growth of fraternal feeling, the spread of intelligence and learning, the continued enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, all these and countless other blessings are cause for reverent rejoicing.
Grover Cleveland felt that it was extremely important to celebrate the holidaySource: Raab Collection
It is fitting and proper that a nation thus favored should on one day in every year…publicly acknowledge the goodness of God and return thanks to Him for all His gracious gifts. Therefore I, Grover Cleveland, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate and set apart Thursday the 26th of November instant as a day of public Thanksgiving and prayer, and do invoke the observance of the same by all the people of the land ... I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving.
You might have more in common with President McKinley than you thinkSource: Visit Canton
Teddy Roosevelt celebrated with a horse ride, food, and silenceSource: Ohio State University
William Howard Taft enjoyed his aunt's mince pieSource: National Park Service
Woodrow Wilson tried to keep things economicalSource: AWB
Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover kept things chillSource: Smithsonian
FDR changed the date of Thanksgiving twice
President Truman had to let up on rationing so people could eat turkeySource: Pittsburgh-Post Gazette
Dwight Eisenhower spent the holiday golfingSource: National Archives
For the courage and vision of our forebears who settled a wilderness and founded a Nation; for the "blessings of liberty" which the framers of our Constitution sought to secure for themselves and for their posterity, and which are so abundantly realized in our land today; for the unity of spirit which has made our country strong; and for the continuing faith under His guidance that has kept us a religious people with freedom of worship for all, we should kneel in humble thanksgiving. Especially are we grateful this year for the truce in battle-weary Korea, which gives to anxious men and women throughout the world the hope that there may be an enduring peace.
JFK summarized the presidential past of Thanksgiving in his final proclamationSource: JFK Library
Over three centuries ago, our forefathers in Virginia and in Massachusetts, far from home in a lonely wilderness, set aside a time of thanksgiving. On the appointed day, they gave reverent thanks for their safety, for the health of their children, for the fertility of their fields, for the love which bound them together and for the faith which united them with their God ... And so too, in the midst of America’s tragic civil war, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November 1863 as a day to renew our gratitude for America’s 'fruitful fields,' for our 'national strength and vigor,' and for all our 'singular deliverances and blessings.' Let us therefore proclaim our gratitude to Providence for manifold blessings - let us be humbly thankful for inherited ideals - and let us resolve to share those blessings and those ideals with our fellow human beings throughout the world.
LBJ had to deal with JFK's assassination during his first Thanksgiving in officeSource: Twitter
Tonight, on this Thanksgiving, I come before you to ask your help, to ask your strength, to ask your prayers that God may guard this Republic and guide my every labor. All of us have lived through seven days that none of us will ever forget. We are not given the divine wisdom to answer why this has been, but we are given the human duty of determining what is to be, what is to be for America, for the world, for the cause we lead, for all the hopes that live in our hearts.
1972 was a pretty good Thanksgiving for NixonSource: Esquire
Jimmy Carter was thinking about hostages in 1979Source: National Archives
The ensuing years have multiplied our nation’s blessings. We have been delivered from repeated perils, and we have been blessed with abundance beyond the imaginings of those who offered thanks in the chill of approaching winter more than three-and-one-half centuries ago. Succeeding generations have broadened the freedom they cherished and the opportunity they sought, and built a mighty nation on the strong foundations they laid. In this two hundred and fourth year of our independence, we have good reasons for gratitude: for liberty in a world where repression is common, for peace in a world of threats and terror and war, for a bounteous harvest in a world where hunger and despair still stalk much of mankind.
Ronald Reagan had a California Thanksgiving in 1985Source: Getty Images
George H.W. Bush began the tradition of pardoning a turkey at the White House in 1989Source: Flickr
Bill Clinton spent the holiday at Camp DavidSource: Getty Images
Across the years, we still share an unbroken bond with the men and
President George W. Bush spent his final Thanksgiving in office making phone callsSource: NPR
President Obama reached out to the American peopleSource: Twitter
President Trump loves to pardon turkeysSource: Time
It seems the Democrats are accusing me of being too soft on turkey. But bread and butter, I should note, that unlike previous witnesses, you and I have actually met.