7 Nov: The Elephant and The Donkey

Why are the Republican Party represented by an elephant, and the Democrats (unofficially) by a donkey? The answer lies in the work of revered political cartoonist Thomas Nast, whose picture ‘Third Term Panic’ was published in Harper’s Weekly on 7th November, 1874 – the day before the mid-terms.

His Aesop-style symbolism is rather tricky for modern readers to untangle, but the satiric thrust of this particular cartoon related to news that President Ulysses S. Grant was considering running for an unprecedented third term in office. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain why 19th century political cartoonists were so influential;  

consider whether Nast’s view of the Irish corresponded with his more enlightened views on African-Americans; and reveal how Andrew Jackson reclaimed his portrayal as a ‘jackass’ and turned it into a political positive… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Thomas Nast: The Father of Modern Political Cartoons by Fiona Deans Halloran’ (University of North Carolina Press, 2012): https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/Thomas_Nast/HlX6kAxzyRYC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=thomas+nast+elephant&printsec=frontcover

• ‘Why are an elephant and a donkey the Republican and Democratic party symbols?’ (The Sun, 2020): https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/12977208/elephant-republican-donkey-democratic-party-symbols-elections/

• ‘Elephant or Donkey? How Animals Became U.S. Political Symbols’ (National Geographic, 2016):

#1800s #US #Politics #Publishing