Casting Ballots


 "The Elephant Walk Around"
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   October 28, 1876, p. 868

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
The association of the elephant with the Republican party occurred originally in an 1860 issue of Railsplitter and an 1872 issue of Harper's Weekly. It was, however, Thomas Nast's elephantine caricatures that caught the attention of other cartoonists and the public, thereby leading to the elephant becoming the official symbol of the Republican party. Nast's first two images of the Republican Elephant appear in 1874 in which the partisan pachyderm falls into a trap after the Democrats win control of the House of Representatives.

By contrast, this cartoon, which appeared only a couple of weeks before the 1876 presidential election, shows a powerful, methodical Republican Elephant crushing and strangling the two-headed Democratic Tiger of Tilden (r) and Hendricks (l). Uncle Sam looks down approvingly, even gleefully, from the driver's seat atop the beast. Behind him, the passenger box is filled with delighted public schoolchildren, cheering and waving the American flag. On the ground, political boss John Morrissey reveals with his empty pockets that he has no more money to buy votes for the Democrats.













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