Donkeys and elephants? Ever wondered how the political parties chose their respective animals?

Well in this Virtually Rick we'll show you. So come with me, let’s get political . . . 

It’s largely the fault of Thomas Nast, one of America’s greatest political cartoonists.

But first, let's step back in time to another presidential race; this time in 1828. Those who opposed the hero of the 1812 War, the mighty Andrew Jackson, had but one word to call him: a jackass.

But in a fine move that would make a jiu-jitsu black belt blush, Jackson embraced it and added pictures of the animal to posters for his campaign.


Perhaps that’s what "Low-Energy Jeb" should have done?

Jackson powered on and beat incumbent John Quincy Adams to become the first ever Democratic President of the United States of America.  And that was before the Republican Party even existed — they didn't come about until 1856.

It’s worth a brief mention that during those times both parties stood for almost the polar opposite of what they stand for today — but that’s another story.

During the Civil War, “seeing the elephant” was a term soldiers used to mean being in battle or combat, a powerful figure and it was soon used as a Republican symbol appearing in newspapers and political cartoons. 

Speaking of which, remember our cartoonist, Thomas Nast? Well in 1870, whilst working for Harpers,  he used a donkey as a representation of a group of northern Democrats. Then in 1874 he drew a cartoon called, “Third Term Panic,” that mocked those who believed President Ulysses Grant was thinking about a third term in power. 

He drew the various groups involved as animals, labeling a giant elephant as “The Republican Vote.” 

Eventually he used the donkey and the elephant to represent both parties completely. A rather early animal branding exercise that was so effective the Republicans adopted old trunky to this very day.

The Democrats have yet to officially choose theirs but until then the good old donkey will do. Either way it’s clear that down through the years both political groups are still very much "party animals."