Thomas Nast, a 19th century editorial cartoonist considered to be the “Father of the American Cartoon”, has long been credited with giving us the recognized versions of such iconic characters as Santa Claus and Uncle Sam.
But his involvement in the creation of the donkey as the symbol for the Democratic Party seems to be in question.
In the latest installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, Brian Cronin digs deep to discover that the use of the donkey originated over thirty years earlier.
In a cartoon published in 1837, outgoing President Andrew Jackson is show trying to still lead the Democrats (his party) even though he is no longer President. The Democrats are symbolized by a donkey (which was basically an animal that Jackson had actually aligned his campaign with originally, as he viewed himself as stubborn as a mule, etc.).
The comic is titled “The Modern Balaam and his ass.”
And although Nast has been seemingly stripped of the credit associated with the donkey, Cronin confirmed that Nast did originate the idea of associating the Republican Party with elephants in the following cartoon: