View Full Version : The Origin of the Elephant and the Donkey

10-06-2000, 05:55 PM
It ain't Shakespeare, but read on...
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The symbol of the elephant first appeared in Harperís Weekly on November 7, 1874 in a cartoon by Thomas Nast.

Two unconnected events led to the birth of the Republican Elephant. In the political arena of the time, Ulysses S. Grant was midway through his second term as President and considering a third term. The New York Herald and illustrated journalists were depicting Grant wearing a crown raising the cry of "Caesarism." The Democrats had taken up the issue during the mid-term elections in order to disaffect Republican voters.

continued.... see post #1

[This message has been edited by TheFly (edited 10-06-2000).]

10-06-2000, 05:56 PM

At the same time, in a completely non-political arena, the Herald was involving itself in a delightful hoax known as the Central Park Menagerie Scare of 1874. They ran a story, totally untrue, claiming that the animals of the zoo had broken loose and were roaming New Yorkís Central Park in search of prey.

Cartoonist Thomas Nast took the two events and put them together in a cartoon for Harperís Weekly. He showed an *** (symbolizing the Herald) wearing a lionís skin (the scary prospect of Caesarism) frightening away the animals in the forest (Central Park). The caption quoted a familiar fable:

"An *** having put on a lionís skin roamed about in the forest and amused himself by frightening all the foolish animals he met within his wanderings."

--From William Safireís New Language of Politics, Revised edition, Collier Books, New York, 1972.

One of the foolish animals in the cartoon was an elephant, representing the Republican vote- not the party. It showed the Republican vote being frightened away from its normal ties by the phony scare of Caesarism. In a subsequent cartoon, after the election in which the Republicans did badly, Nast showed the elephant in a trap, illustrating how the Republican vote had been decoyed from its normal allegiance. Other cartoonists picked up the symbol and it soon ceased to represent the voters, but came to represent the Party itself. The jackass, now referred to as the donkey, made a natural transition from representing the Herald to representing the Democrats who had frightened the elephant.

10-06-2000, 05:57 PM
So it appears voters became entrapped in the deception of the Democratic party and have been there ever since... http://www.ChiefsPlanet.com/ubb/biggrin.gif