Donkey & Elephant!? | History Of The Political Party Symbols


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
to subscribe to Political Junkie News to become deeply informed one video at a time.


22 Responses

  1. The Exploration with William C. Fox

    March 16, 2016 4:10 pm

    Any proposals for better animals to represent the parties? Let me know.

  2. Kristi Winters

    March 16, 2016 5:30 pm

    Funny, I have always called Teddy's party the Bullmoose Party. 🙂 Maybe because I also associate him with another animal. The teddy bear.

  3. Name Explain

    March 16, 2016 11:41 pm

    Cool video. In Britain most of our big parties are represented with plants. Labour are a rose and the conservatives a tree. Though the Liberal Democrats use an animal. A dove to be exact 🙂

  4. VisualPolitik

    March 20, 2016 6:19 pm

    There´s another political animal: the squirrel from the Estonian Reformist Party (btw, the current ruling party in Estonia). IMO is the BEST polical logo ever made by far:

    Plus, if you can check some of their ads, they are very good (even though I don´t speak Estonian).

  5. Vincent Hamilton

    March 22, 2016 12:41 pm

    Your uploads are excellent. I've subbed and now I'm on a bit of a binge watching your videos! – From Australia

  6. The Cynical Historian

    July 20, 2016 11:18 am

    I always thought the donkey stuck after Jackson, but come to think of it, I've never seen any cartoons before the 1860s that shows that. Anyways, you should do an episode on the reason why the parties took their names. That could be fascinating, and seemingly well within your purview.

  7. jonathon martin

    July 20, 2016 3:11 pm

    I'm from the South Wales Valleys and although your pronunciation was the best I have ever heard from an American the way we Welsh pronounce it sounds like this: P-lyd Cum-ri

  8. Think Positive ++

    August 4, 2016 3:39 pm

    Urgent question.
    Why are there 4 stars on the Democratic donkey, but only 3 stars on the Republican elephant?

  9. Roxanne Ringler

    August 16, 2016 12:12 pm

    It's very disturbing that the stars on the elephant have now been flipped upside down, why wouldn't they do the same with the Donkey's stars, we all know that our current president and that witch Hitlary worship Lucifer.

  10. Wilbur Jenkins

    January 6, 2017 1:24 am

    Just like to point out at 1:30. You said that the donkey is in "sheep's clothing", but it doesn't really look like a sheep. Judging by the clawed foot, the tail, the mane, and teeth. The donkey is wearing a "Lion's clothing".

  11. Kramo

    November 13, 2018 10:58 pm

    I thought the elephant came from the saying 'the elephant in the room' to which it we directed to someone back then.

  12. Jonathan Overstreet

    December 24, 2018 1:38 am

    Can someone tell me why the The elephants stares are upside down and the stars are upside down on the owl?

  13. Samridhi Prakash Srivastava

    March 2, 2020 6:19 am

    Thank you for such a great video. And the vid quality is awsm
    New subscriber from India!


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