Thursday, April 11, 2024

How Republicans and Democrats got their animal symbols

USCIS 100:45. What are the two major political parties in the United States?*
USCIS 100:46. What is the political party of the President now?

VOA News: How Republicans and Democrats got their animal symbols

In the United States, the two major political parties have been illustrated by a donkey, symbolizing the Democratic Party, or an elephant, symbolizing the Republican Party. The images are used on campaign-related materials. But why were these two beasts chosen?

Both U.S. political parties have an animal symbol:

A donkey for Democrats, and an elephant for Republicans.

And they plaster the symbols everywhere: On hats, pins, T-shirts and mugs.

But how did that come to be?

The donkey symbol dates to Andrew Jackson’s presidential campaign in 1828.

Jackson’s opponents labeled him a jackass — another name for donkey.

But Jackson had the last laugh. He incorporated donkeys on his campaign posters — and won.

Political cartoonists perpetuated the link between Democrats and donkeys.

The most famous was Thomas Nast, known as the “Father of the American Cartoon.”

He is also credited for popularizing the Republican elephant.

His satirical drawings appeared in Harper’s Weekly in the 1870s.

But the Republican elephant appeared much earlier in the pro-Lincoln campaign newspaper, Father Abraham.

An elephant is holding up a banner celebrating Union military victories.

It’s a play on the expression “seeing the elephant,” which soldiers used during the Civil War, meaning “engaging in combat.”

Republicans’ embrace of the elephant has only grown stronger over time.

President Gerald Ford and his wife, Betty, had an “elephant room” in their California home.

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan was given a baby elephant by the president of Sri Lanka.

Today, Republicans claim the elephant as the party’s official symbol. 

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