What’s with the donkey and the elephant?
The Democratic Donkey began as an insult against populist Democrat Andrew Jackson, who was called a jackass. He decided to incorporate the symbol into his campaign, and later it came to represent his stubborn streak. But it was Harper’s Weekly cartoonist Thomas Nast, the famous opponent of Boss Tweed, who lodged the donkey symbol most firmly into the public imagination — probably with no prior knowledge of its earlier association with Jackson.
The Republican Elephant was also Thomas Nast’s creation. The story behind it is complicated, involving both accusations that President Grant was engaging in “Caesarism” and false reports of a mass breakout from the Central Park Zoo (you can’t make this stuff up, folks), and originally the elephant represented the Republican vote, as opposed to the party. But the image stuck.