Have you ever wondered why an elephant represents the Republicans, while a donkey represents the Democrats in the United States?
The two major political parties - the Republicans and the Democrats -that come to our mind every time we think of US politics, are very interestingly represented by an elephant and a donkey.
Since 1853, every presidential candidates that came out victorious has belonged to one of these parties.
Political parties around the world have different views, policies, strategies, priorities, as well as, different symbols to represent them. A political symbol or logo not only reflects the ideology of a party but also is accompanied by a historic backstory to tell the generations.
Here goes the brief history on the origins of the logos of the two top political parties in the USA-
The Democrats were first to use the donkey as their representative symbol in 1828, during the presidential campaign of Andrew Jackson.
Andrew Jackson, a popular war hero, ran his election campaign under the slogan "Let the People Rule". More entertained than provoked, Jackson used the donkey on his posters after his opponents nicknamed him "jackass" due to his populist views and stubborn nature.
But the person who is most responsible for making the donkey a symbol of the Democrats and the elephant a symbol of the Republicans was a cartoonist for "Harper's Weekly" magazine Thomas Nast.
Thomas Nast first used a donkey in a cartoon for Harper's Weekly titled "A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion" in 1870 that the symbol truly became imbedded in the American consciousness as synonymous with the Democratic Party. The cartoon depicts a donkey labeled "Copperhead Papers" – copperhead being a name given by Republicans to the more extreme faction of the northern democrats who opposed the Civil War and called for immediate peace – kicking a dead lion labeled "Hon. E.M. Stanton", Abraham Lincoln's recently deceased Secretary of War who Nast felt was being disrespected by the Democratic press. In a testament to the influence wielded by Nast, the donkey almost instantly became the recognized symbol of the entire Democratic Party.
Four years later in 1874, Nast penned another cartoon, this time linking the elephant to the Republican Party. The animal 'Elephant' had already been featured as a Republican symbol by an Illinois newspaper during Abraham Lincoln's 1860 election campaign. Nast's drawing titled "The Third-Term Panic" mocked the New York Herald, a paper that had been critical of Nast's close friend, President Ulysses S. Grant. At the time, Grant had already been president for nearly two terms and it was rumored that he was contemplating a run for a third (the 22nd amendment which installed term limits on the presidency wouldn't be in place until 1951). The New York Herald had been extremely critical of Grant's proposal to run again. Though Grant didn't end up running for a third term, the New York Herald's criticism did influence the election and the Republicans lost control of the house. Nast vented his disappointment with another cartoon showing an elephant caught in a trap set by a donkey.
By 1880, other political cartoonists followed suit and both the donkey and elephant became widely used and were firmly entrenched as the accepted symbols of the two parties.
The Democratic donkey represents hard work, diligence, humbleness and a dedication to the USA, however, the Republicans strongly disagree and consider the donkey a symbol of stubbornness.
On the other hand, the Republican elephant represents intelligence, dignity and is considered as the symbol of strength (as it is seen as the only animal that stood up to a lion). In contrast to this, the Democrats see the elephant as comparable to a circus animal.
Both of these political logos have prominent standardised colours and stars of the American flag. Generally, the Republican elephant logo upholds 3 stars while the Democratic donkey logo design has 4.