Politics in Graphic Detail

Exploring History through Political Cartoons

During the 1820s, the alligator became associated with the presidential campaigns of Andrew Jackson and with Jacksonian Democracy in general. During the campaigns of 1824 and 1828, Jackson and his supporters used the popular song The Hunters of Kentucky; Or, Half Horse and Half Alligator" on the campaign trail. The song, alternately titled "The Battle of New Orleans" celebrated then-General Jackson's victory at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812.
Symbolic representation of Great Britain, often depicted as a woman holding a shield and a spear.
Brother Jonathan was an early personification of the United States as a man and a precursor to Uncle Sam. At first, he represented rural New England, but during the American Revolution he came to symbolize the colonies as well.
The bull moose is a symbol for the Progressive Party, which was founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1912.
Cerberus is a three-headed dog with a serpent's tail who, in Greek and Roman mythology, guards the entrance to the underworld.
Columbia is one of the most famous female personifications of America from the nation’s early days. Columbia is often depicted wearing classical robes and either wearing or holding a Phrygian or liberty cap. She is often drawn holding a sword and shield (sometimes decorated with the flag of the United States) and is frequently accompanied by an American Bald Eagle. Columbia is often depicted as a motherly figure who chastises corrupt politicians.
Death is often personified as a skeleton holding a scythe. Death often wears a black cloak and hood.
An evil spirit in the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic traditions, often depicted as a demon with horns, hooves, and a tail, sometimes also depicted with wings and/or a pitchfork. Nicknames or alternative titles for the devil include "Old Nick," Satan, and Beelzebub.
Dogs are often depicted in political cartoons as representatives of the press.
Thomas Nast is often credited with debuting the donkey as the symbol for the Democratic Party in the late 19th century, but the association between donkeys and Democrats in political cartoons goes back at least to the 1828 campaign of Andrew Jackson. After his opponents insulted him by calling him a "jackass," Jackson proudly adopted the symbol of the strong-willed animal in their campaign iconography. Before and during the Civil War, cartoonists often represented seceding Southern states as stubborn donkeys.

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