January 15, 1870
NAST CARTOON DEPICTS DEMOCRATS AS A DONKEY
New York City (JFK+50) Harper’s Weekly published a cartoon today, drawn by illustrator Thomas Nast, depicting the Democratic-dominated newspapers of the South as a donkey.
In the political cartoon, the donkey is labeled “The Copperhead Papers”.*
Thomas Nast, who was born in Landau, Germany in 1840, came to New York City with his family in 1849.
Nast began his career with Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper before going to Harper’s.**
*The Democratic National Committee says that it was actually in 1828 when the donkey was attributed to their party.
According to the DNC, it was in a cartoon that labeled Andrew Jackson as a “jackass” for his populist views & his slogan “Let the people rule.”
A cartoon later appeared in 1837 depicting the former President trying to get a donkey (the Democratic Party) to go where he wanted.
The title of the cartoon is “A Modern Balaam & his Ass”.
The reference of Balaam is to Balaam of Pethor who was hired by Balak, the king of Moab, to curse Israel according to “The Holy Bible” Numbers 22:5.
Once in Israel, Balaam encounters a talking donkey:
“And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, & went with the princes of Moab. And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thous hast smitten me these three times?”
From “The Holy Bible”, Numbers 22:21 & 28.
Illinois Democrat Adali E. Stevenson is quoted as saying:
“The elephant has a thick skin, a head full of ivory, & as everyone who has seen a circus parade knows, proceeds best by grasping the tail of its predecessor.”
Throughout the 1960 Presidential campaign, JFK used the Stevenson quote.
On November 4, 1960 at a rally in Roanoke, Virginia, JFK said:
“You have seen these elephants at the circus, with their heads full of ivory, thick skins, long memory, no vision, & when they move around the circus ring, they grab the tail of the elephant in front of them.
Mr. Nixon grabbed that tail (Eisenhower’s) in 1952 & 1956, but he is the lead elephant now…”
Nixon won Virginia in 1960 by 5.47% of the popular vote.
**Thomas Nast used the elephant in an 1874 cartoon in which an elephant was labeled “The Republican Vote.”
The elephant became the unofficial symbol of the party by 1880.
Nast was appointed US Consul General to Ecuador in 1902. That same year Nast died.
He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York.