A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“The shortest distance between two points is always under construction” (6/27)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (6/27)
“If I had a dollar for every existential crisis I’ve ever had…does money even matter?” (6/27)
“Keep your cymbal jokes to yourself. We’ve heard them all a Zildjian times” (6/27)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (6/27)
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Entry from May 23, 2005
Democratic Donkey
Thomas Nast, a cartoonist of Harper's Weekly, gets credit for the "Democratic Donkey," but credit should go to the New York Daily Graphic. The Daily Graphic's artist was Philip G. Cusachs.

The Nast donkeys in the 1870s were "Caesarism" donkeys, against a third term for then-President U. S. Grant. Nast labeled his donkeys as he did his elephants. I've looked at all of them. I haven't seen an early "Democratic donkey" among them.

Both the New York Daily Graphic and Thomas Nast drew donkeys clearly inspired by William Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream. The donkey or ass means foolishness. For the 1876, the Daily Graphic donkeys were clearly labeled "Democratic donkey." There's absolutely no doubt that it was used here - before Nast - as a symbol of the Democratic party. Nast used a Democratic tiger.


http://www.democrats.org/about/donkey.html
The Democratic Donkey
When Andrew Jackson ran for president in 1828, his opponents tried to label him a "jackass" for his populist views and his slogan, "Let the people rule." Jackson, however, picked up on their name calling and turned it to his own advantage by using the donkey on his campaign posters. During his presidency, the donkey was used to represent Jackson's stubbornness when he vetoed re-chartering the National Bank.

The first time the donkey was used in a political cartoon to represent the Democratic party, it was again in conjunction with Jackson. Although in 1837 Jackson was retired, he still thought of himself as the Party's leader and was shown trying to get the donkey to go where he wanted it to go. The cartoon was titled "A Modern Baalim and his Ass."

Interestingly enough, the person credited with getting the donkey widely accepted as the Democratic party's symbol probably had no knowledge of the prior associations. Thomas Nast, a famous political cartoonist, came to the United States with his parents in 1840 when he was six. He first used the donkey in an 1870 Harper's Weekly cartoon to represent the "Copperhead Press" kicking a dead lion, symbolizing Lincoln's Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, who had recently died. Nast intended the donkey to represent an anti-war faction with whom he disagreed, but the symbol caught the public's fancy and the cartoonist continued using it to indicate some Democratic editors and newspapers.

Later, Nast used the donkey to portray what he called "Caesarism" showing the alleged Democratic uneasiness over a possible third term for Ulysses S. Grant. In conjunction with this issue, Nast helped associate the elephant with the Republican party. Although the elephant had been connected with the Republican party in cartoons that appeared in 1860 and 1872, it was Nast's cartoon in 1874 published by Harper's Weekly that made the pachyderm stick as the Republican's symbol. A cartoon titled "The Third Term Panic," showed animals representing various issues running away from a donkey wearing a lion's skin tagged "Caesarism." The elephant labeled "The Republican Vote," was about to run into a pit containing inflation, chaos, repudiation, etc.

By 1880 the donkey was well established as a mascot for the Democratic party. A cartoon about the Garfield-Hancock campaign in the New York Daily Graphic showed the Democratic candidate mounted on a donkey, leading a procession of crusaders.

Over the years, the donkey and the elephant have become the accepted symbols of the Democratic and Republican parties. Although the Democrats have never officially adopted the donkey as a party symbol, we have used various donkey designs on publications over the years. The Republicans have actually adopted the elephant as their official symbol and use their design widely.

The Democrats think of the elephant as bungling, stupid, pompous and conservative -- but the Republicans think it is dignified, strong and intelligent. On the other hand, the Republicans regard the donkey as stubborn, silly and ridiculous -- but the Democrats claim it is humble, homely, smart, courageous and loveable.

Adlai Stevenson provided one of the most clever descriptions of the Republican's symbol when he said, "The elephant has a thick skin, a head full of ivory, and as everyone who has seen a circus parade knows, proceeds best by grasping the tail of its predecessor."

4 October 1873, Harper's Weekly, pg. 872:
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
OF
JULIUSCAESARTEMPESTMUCHADOABOUTNOTHINGCOMEDYOFERRORSASYOULIKEITALLSWELLTHATENDSWELL.
("The Ghost of Caesarism" donkey visits New York Herald publisher James Brutus Bennett, Jun. This is Nasts's first "Caesarism" donkey. It does not represent the Democratic Party - ed.)

11 October 1873, Harper's Weekly, pp. 896-897:
(Another "Caesarism" donkey - ed.)

8 November 1873, Harper's Weekly, pg. 992:
("Th. Nast SWEET MUSIC" plays the Harper's Weekly harp to the New York Herald about Caesarism. A donkey illustration is on the music score - ed.)

30 September 1874, New York Daily Graphic, pg. 647 illustration:
TOUCHING BOTTOM - THE MORAL OF THE RECENT DEMOCRATIC UTTERANCES ON THE CURRENCY QUESTION

Democratic Titania - "OH! MY OBERON, WHAT VISIONS HAVE I SEEN, METHOUGHT I WAS ENAMOURED OF AN ASS."
Oberon Grant - "THERE LIES YOUR LOVE."

Democratic Titania - "HOW CAME THESE THINGS TO PASS! O HOW MINE EYES DO LOATHE HIS VISAGE NOW."

11 December 1875, Harper's Weekly, pg. 997:
DEMOCRATIC TIGER.
(Seen written on collar - ed.)

22 January 1876, Harper's Weekly, pg. 64:
DEMOCRATIC TIGER: "I have reformed, and am tame now."
REPUBLICAN LAMB: "I - I believe it."

5 February 1876, Harper's Weekly, pg. 101:
"AMNESTY," OR, THE END OF THE PEACEFUL DEMOCRATIC TIGER.

20 February 1876, Harper's Weekly, pg. 164:
A LIBERAL REWARD WILL BE PAID TO ANY PERSON WHO CAN OBTAIN A PROPER STEERING APPARATUS TO THE DEMOCRATIC TIGER.

25 February 1876, New York Daily Graphic, pg. 909 illustration:
THE GRAND DILEMMA OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.
Democratic Donkey - "I SUPPOSE I COULD BUY SOME FODDER WITH ONE OF THOSE: BUT WHICH! HEE-HAW! I'M TOO MUCH OF AN ASS TO KNOW."

2 March 1876, New York Daily Graphic, pg. 9:
THE DEMOCRATIC DONKEY GOING TO INFLATE HIMSELF.

23 March 1876, Harper's Weekly, pg. 241:
A LIBERAL REWARD WILL BE PAID TO ANY PERSON WHO CAN OBTAIN A PROPER STEERING APPARATUS TO THE DEMOCRATIC TIGER.

22 April 1876, Harper's Weekly, pg. 332:
THE DEMOCRATIC TIGER-IN-THE-MANGER, AND THE SUBMISSIVE (M)ASSES.

24 June 1876, Titusville (PA) Herald, pg. 3, col. 4:
The Graphic of Thursday contains some illustrations particularly interesting to Democrats. On the first page are two companion pieces representing the Democratic ass in a quandary and the Democratic donkey in trouble again.

15 March 1892, New York (NY) Times, "Obituary Notes," pg. 5, col. 4:
Philip G. Cusachs, a well-known artist and newspaper illustrator, will be buried to-day from St. Jerome's Church, One Hundred and Thirty-eighth street and Alexander Avenue. He died on Sunday after a protracted illness at his home, 718 East One Hundred and Forty-second Street. He was born of Spanish parents fifty years ago in New-Orleans. In his early youth his parents returned to Spain and he was reared and educated in Barcelona. Afterward he came back to this country and first attracted attention by his clever work on the Daily Graphic. His services were afterward in great demand, and, while he was not a man of original ideas, he had the faculty of working up a subject at the most remarkable speed. He was wont to draw and entire page cartoon in two hours. He was at one time President of the Kit Kat Club.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Monday, May 23, 2005 • Permalink