Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Political Animals

When scanning through the 2012 Republican National Convention's photostream on Flickr, I came across some images of the Republican elephant, the political animal that is used to symbolize the GOP. Then I realized that I wasn't aware of where this symbol came from or what exactly it even means. After some research, I found out that the republican elephant as well as the democratic donkey were made famous by a political cartoonist, Thomas Nast, in the late 1800's. The donkey was first associated with democratic party in Andrew Jackson's presidential campaign in 1828. Jackson's opponents actually referred to him as a jackass, and Jackson decided to jokingly use the animal on campaign advertisements. Nast later used the donkey in political cartoons.

Nast's first use of the elephant to represent the GOP came in the November 7, 1874 edition of Harper's. Nast had strong republican foundations, but he became frustrated with the party during the 1870's, which is evident in "Third Term  Panic". The cartoon depicts a donkey in lion's skin scaring off other animals, among them the elephant, and this was meant to represent the democratic scare tactics of the time. The cartoonist continued to use the elephant to represent the Grand Ol' Party. Today, it is not exactly known why these political animals continue to be so popular, maybe because of Nast himself.

Thomas Nast, "Third Term Panic". 1874

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful entry. I appreciate the fact that you took care to do some research on this.