N.H. Turkey Named for Mother of Thanksgiving Wins Late-Breaking Pardon

Nov 22, 2017

Considering the circumstances, the alleged criminal remained remarkably stoic, barely flapping a feather as he stood at the front of the council chambers on Wednesday while Gov. Chris Sununu and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald presented the facts of his case.

(Scroll down to watch a video of the proceedings.)

“Before you is a petition that’s been submitted by Hale,” MacDonald said. “Hale is from the Drown Farm on Battle Street in Webster, New Hampshire.”

Part of the Executive Council’s job is to vote on requests for criminal pardons. Until Wednesday, as far as anyone could remember, they had never before been asked to do so for a turkey.

Hale, apparently, landed himself in trouble because he has been known to eat other turkeys' food. But with hours to spare before he might have been served up for Thanksgiving, the governor said he felt compelled to take mercy on the wayward bird.

“He’s a little shy and doesn’t speak for himself, but for the record the reason he is requesting a pardon is for lineage and culinary reasons,” Sununu explained, offering to read a statement on Hale’s behalf. “‘I’m a descendant of the turkeys living in Newport, New Hampshire, in 1788 when Sarah Josepha Hale, known as the mother of Thanksgiving, was born. Plus I’m just too darn delicious to eat.’”

“Those are pretty powerful reasons right there,” the governor added.

Luckily for Hale’s sake, the executive councilors – even Democrat Chris Pappas, who owns a restaurant that’s famous for its fried poultry — voted unanimously to offer the bird reprieve.

From here, Sununu said Hale will likely be headed to be used in a school or other educational programs.

The governor, too, seemed relieved that he was able to successfully intervene in this case: “The bears, the Great Danes, and now the turkeys. There's no animal Governor Sununu won't save.”