Within American politics, there are several parties where citizens can become a part of, usually dependent on their viewpoints. It is said that the two most well-known political parties in American are the Democrats and Republicans. Surprising to some, the two parties are represented by the symbols of a donkey and an elephant (respectively).
Initially these animal symbols were used on campaign banners, but over the years they have become two of the most outstanding logos in American politics. Let’s take a look at the brief history behind these two political logos. We’ll also review how these two animal symbols came to represent the two of the biggest political parties of US.
The Democratic Donkey
The Democrats were first to use the donkey as their representative symbol. The donkey represents the Democrats’ beginning 1828. The running President of 1828 was President Andrew Jackson and he was labeled as a “jackass” due to his populist views and stubborn nature. His main slogan was, “Let the people rule.” Although the cartoon was depicted to mock him, it was later adopted by Jackson himself to represent his Democratic party in 1837.
The Republican Elephant
Some believe that being a Republican influenced Thomas Nast on choosing a bull elephant to represent his party. However, the Republican elephant was not as intentional as Jackson’s donkey. It was formed through a series of events involving New York’s two popular magazines, The Herald and The Harper’s Weekly. The Herald once ran a story of zoo animals being let loose and roaming in New York’s Central Park looking for prey. Cartoonist Thomas Nast drew a cartoon of a donkey wearing lion’s skin, chasing away all the animals (given below). This cartoon was a metaphor for President Ulysses S. Grant whom was running for third term presidency and there was a significant amount of conflict in the Democratic Party. This was one reason that the cartoon included a panicked elephant bearing the label, “Republican Vote.” Ever since then, the elephant became the Republican Party’s its main symbol.
Discussion and Meaning of these Symbols
The Democratic donkey represents hard work, diligence, humbleness and a dedication to the USA. The Republicans however, 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 symbols found firm foundation in the growing American pop culture and were copyrighted to represent the two political parties. The political logos have the prominent standardized colors and stars of the American flag. Generally, the Republican elephant logo upholds 3 stars while the Democratic donkey logo design has 4. However, the donkey can also been seen with a variation of 3 stars.
The Man Behind the Logo Designs
Thomas Nast was a political cartoonist, who usually drew satirical cartoons depicting the state of American politics. It was his idea to use the two animals for representing the Democratic and Republican parties. Thomas Nast was born in 1840 and had a great career being a caricaturist, an illustrator and a painter. Apart from the political symbols, he is also well acclaimed for the sketch of fat and jolly Santa Claus carrying gifts for little children (previously, Santa was depicted as skinny). Although the artist died in 1902, his sketches and drawings still live on.
There you go! Wasn’t that an interesting history? Let us know what you think of the Republican and Democratic logos.