Cartoonery

When Donkey and Elephant First Clashed

One hundred forty years ago, Harper’s Weekly’s cartoonist of genius, Thomas Nast, sired the Democratic donkey and Republican elephant into ridicule. In an environment of flourishing editorial cartoons, Nast’s ready vocabulary of political symbols caught on. Within a decade the donkey and elephant had evolved from the focal points of partisan mockery into the popular mascots they are today. Read more »

The Lives Of The Parties

The two-party system, undreamt of by the founders of the Republic, has been one of its basic shaping forces ever since their time

Recently I got a letter from a friend of mine, Max Lale, the current president of the Texas State Historical Society, that gave me a quick glimpse of a vanished world. Lale recalled that on election day of 1928, when he was twelve, he accompanied his father on a mile-and-a-quarter walk to their local polling place in Oklahoma. There he waited while his Southern-born father, faced with a choice between Al Smith and Herbert Hoover, agonized over which would be worse: to support a Catholic or a Republican. In the end he cast no vote for President.Read more »

The Life And Death Of Thomas Nast

HIS GRANDSON RECALLS:

To his contemporaries Thomas Nast was unquestionably America’s greatest and most effective political cartoonist, attacking corruption with a brilliant and often vitriolic pen, harrying the bosses, creating the political symbols that still remain the emblems of our two major political parties. His grandson’s impression is quite different. He remembers him as a gentle and witty companion, as the creator of our conception of Santa Claus, as a sad and lonely man whose life ended poignantly in a foreign land.Read more »