How the Republican Elephant and Democratic Donkey were born
Why a pachyderm and an oft maligned member of the horse family? Why not a dog and cat, or Mickey and Donald, or a mongoose and cobra? I just had to know!
Nast first featured a donkey (in a cartoon) in 1870 in Harper's Weekly. The donkey represented the Copperhead Press whom Nast saw as Northern Democrats who were anti-union and racist. The donkey is kicking a lion that represents President Lincoln's deceased Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton.
We first saw the Republican elephant in 1874 in Nast's cartoon "Third Term Panic." The elephant bears the title of "Republican Vote" and, frightened by a donkey cloaked in lion's skin, he stumbles toward a pit labeled "Inflation" and "Chaos."
At a rally in Virginia on November 4, 1960, JFK said, "You
have seen these elephants at the circus, with their heads full of
ivory, thick skins, long memory, no vision, & when they move around
the circus ring, they grab the tail of the elephant in front of them."
Thomas Nast was one of the most influential cartoonist's in American history. Nast played a part in creating the images of Uncle Sam and Santa Claus that we're familiar with today. Nast was a Republican before the parties shifted their philosophies.
The German-born American caricaturist and editorial cartoonist passed away in 1902 at the age of 62.
Fascinating stuff to a trivia buff like me!