Every American knows the Republican Party is represented by the elephant. How did this become their symbol? According to the History Channel, the elephant image was first used during the Civil War in a newspaper illustration representing Lincoln, who was a Republican. In those days, a common expression “seeing the elephant” meant that a soldier was about to experience combat.
It was after President Lincoln and the war, however, that the animal came to represent the entire party. Cartoonist Thomas Nast in 1874 used it in a Harpers Weekly political cartoon. He continued to use it in other publications and soon enough, other cartoonists followed suit.