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The Brief American Pageant , Sixth Edition
David M. Kennedy, Stanford University
Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard University
Thomas A. Bailey
Mel Piehl, Valparaiso University
Primary Sources


Introduction | Questions to Consider | Source | Related Links


Political Symbols
(1874)
Thomas Nast

Instructors' Note
This is a brief introduction to the political cartoons of Thomas Nast. Depending upon their political sophistication, you may have to help them identify the elephant with the Republican party and the donkey with the Democratic party. Students might be interested to know that Nast is also credited with creating one of the most popular images of Santa Claus. This exercise is also a good starting point to discussing the work of political cartooning and its role in political expression. You may want to ask students to analyze a contemporary political cartoon either to introduce this exercise or to expand it.



Introduction
This early political cartoon by Thomas Nast used symbols to illustrate the contrast between the Republican and Democratic parties. Although these symbols did not originate with Nast, he is credited for popularizing them through his work in Harper's Weekly in the late 1860s and early 1870s. Think about the use of pictures to illustrate ideas as you answer the following questions.

Political Cartoon
  1. Which political party does the elephant symbolize?

  2. Which political party does the donkey symbolize?

  3. Think about the characteristics of these two animals and explain why they might have been used to symbolize their respective parties.

  4. Why do you think political cartoons are still popular as ways of expressing ideas and opinions?


Source


cartoon


Source: Libary of Congress Collection

 

Related Links

  • Thomas Nast
    Includes several examples of Nast's work and a brief biography.


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