The political symbols of the donkey representing the Democratic Party and the elephant representing the Republican Party were created in the 19th Century. Both animals have been used as political symbols ever since.
The cartoonist Thomas Nast created these symbols to represent the political parties for his political cartoons. The drawings served as a commentary on politics that was particularly powerful; Nast could communicated with the uneducated or immigrants who could not read or write.
In 1871, Nast drew the Republican elephant (see above) for a cartoon titled “The Third Term Trap” in Harper’s Weekly. Nast was a supporter of the Republican Ulysses S. Grant who had already served two terms as president and was considering running for a third.
At the time, Nast was reminding Republicans that their intra-party fighting could hurt them in an election cycle.
26 elections later, both political parties may want to consider Nast’s warning from the past…while they use his symbols today.