After an extremely contentious election of
1824, Democrat Andrew Jackson found himself facing off again against incumbent President
John Quincy Adams. One of the dirtiest campaigns of all time, both candidates got down in the
mud to attack the other. Quincy Adams advocates charged Jackson of mass slaughter of Natives
and his wife Rachel of being a convicted adulteress. Jackson surrogates accused Quincy Adams of
offering up an American Girl to the Russian Czar as a sexual gift. Opponents of Jackson also used the donkey
to imply that he was a jackass, but, jackson took up the donkey imagery because of its
strong will as a work animal. So he used it on his own campaign posters.
After Jackson defeated John Quincy Adams the donkey image mostly disappeared until Thomas Nast, a cartoonist, made the symbol
popular again along with the republican elephant in the 1870’s (cartoonist)
We know Nast was a loyal Republican, which is why he resurrected the donkey imagery to
besmudge the Democrats, but we don’t know exactly why Nast used the elephant for the
republicans. It could trace its origins to the phrase “seeing the elephant”, which
meant experiencing combat during the Civil War.
It could also be due to the natural personality of the elephant. Large, intelligent, but easily
scared, which is how Republicans were meant to be portayed in this 1874 Harper’s Weekly
Cartoon entitled, “the Third Term Panic”. In this convoluted but poignant image, the
democrats are portrayed both as a fox and as a donkey in sheep’s clothing, who along
with the media, mislead the public and the republicans, into a bottomless pit of panic
and run away monetary inflation. Since Nast, the images have stuck. The Republicans
officially recognized the elephant as their symbol. The Democrats never did. Other American parties use animals as symbols
as well. The Libertarians sometimes use a porcupine,
and the modern whig party uses an owl. And don’t forget Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressive
Party of 1912, also known as the Bull Moose Party. Why are Americans the only country to have
random animals to represent our political parties? Well, we’re not.
The ‘All India Forward Bloc’ of West Bengal uses a Tiger.
The Biju Janata Dal, a regional state party in india uses a conch.
Plide cumree in Wales formerly used the Welsh Dragon. Which by the way, did you hear that
you critical people from my UK elections video. I said Plide cumree better this time. If you have an interest in Civil War History,
be sure to check out my video on the Trent Affair, a close call that could have brought
Great Britain into the American conflict. And if you liked this video, like it. be sure
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