Origin of the Republican Elephant

Discussion in 'Other Patriotism' started by Peter Ansoff, Nov 4, 2016.

  1. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    The latest issue of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, "Four Score and Seven," has an interesting short article about the origin of the political symbols of the major parties. Most people credit the Republican elephant to cartoonist Thomas Nast in an 1874 cartoon, but apparently it's older than that. The Illinois State Journal for 9 August 1860 reported on a large campaign rally for presidential candidate Lincoln, and headed the article with picture of a large elephant. The idea seems to have been to emphasize the size of the rally and the strength of the movement. Also, some supporters may have connected the symbol with Lincoln's running mate, Hannibal Hamlin, whose Carthaginian namesake crossed the Pyrenees and Alps with an army of elephants. According to the article, "They proudly displayed signs announcing 'Hannibal Hamlin, the First man who showed the Elephant to the Romans!'"

    A curious detail of the modern Republican elephant is that the three white stars on the body are shown with points down, the opposite of the way they appear on the flag (and on the Democratic donkey as well). Does anyone know if this was deliberate and/or intended to be symbolic?
  2. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hi, Peter!

    I seem to have always noticed that the THREE (3) stars in the Republican Elephant were points down while the FOUR (4) stars of the Democratic Donkey were points up. I do NOT know if those differences were originally intended that way, or not. BUT..... most of the drawings, images, and icons that I've seen seem to be of a much more modern "interpretation" of the original symbols. If the differences ARE intentional, which I believe they are, then I would hazard a guess that the artist was a..... Democrat!

    Just Sayin' . . . . .

    If I remember my "Louis L'Amour" readings correctly, people in the old west would go out of their way, sometimes a long, long way out of their way, to go "see the elephant". The saying originally described going to see a travelling circus or carnival that included an elephant, but eventually included almost any unusual "sight" or thing as well.

    Robin Hickman
    "Your Friendly Neighborhood Flag Man"
    Eugene, Oregon, USA.

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