Ever wonder why the elephant is the symbol of the Republican party?
Although Thomas Nast did not originate the donkey as an emblem for the Democratic Party, as some have assumed (it actually appeared in the Jacksonian era), he does deserve credit for the Republican elephant and much, much more, for many wildly popular, sentimental versions of Santa Claus and irreverent depictions of New York’s William Marcy Tweed in the early 1870s. Perhaps because Nast himself had a considerable gut, he liked to portray other figures grosser than himself, like Santa and the “Boss.” (See “Two Great Questions,” Harper’s Weekly (1871), p. 135 in Nast.) As Fiona Deans Halloran asserts in her bright book, Thomas Nast: The Father of Modern Political Cartoons, Nast’s contribution to American political cartooning is unequaled (with the possible exception of Herblock after World War II). “Today, Nast’s position as the father of American political cartooning goes unchallenged.” His work is widely available in monographs and compilations, as well as on the Internet. “However, the complexity that characterized Nast’s life, work, and ideas has been diminished with time.”