President Truman received two turkeys in December 1948 from the poultry industry and began the tradition of the president receiving turkeys from a business, rather than random folks. However, Truman did not pardon either of them. He said the birds would make for a tasty Christmas dinner.
In 1963, John F. Kennedy was presented with a turkey and remarked,
"Let's keep him going." A Washington Post article about the
comment was first to use the words "reprieve" and "pardon" to
describe the fate of the turkey. So, JFK began the modern turkey