Friday, May 19, 2017


When you have got an elephant by the hind legs and he is trying to run away, it's best to let him run. - Abraham Lincoln

King Mongkut, the Fourth Monarch of Siam (Thailand) 
and the ruler depicted in The King and I

In 1862, King Mongkut, the Fourth Monarch of Siam, noticed that America was missing a valuable asset:

There should be several pairs of young male and female elephants turned loose in forests where there was abundance of water and grass.  [If] all were forbidden to molest them . . . there be large herds . . . [and] the inhabitants of America will be able to catch them and tame and use them as beasts of burden making them benefit to the country.

President Lincoln politely declined.

The Death Of General Sedgwick by Julian Scott
"Why are you dodging like this? They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." - Union General John Sedgwick's last words. He was shot under his eye before finishing the sentence. 

"Seeing the Elephant,"
lithograph designed by Wm. B. McMurtrie
 making a reference to the gold rush.  

“Seeing the Elephant" became a popular antebellum phrase. Circuses were growing in popularity and the big draw for these shows were exotic animals. The phrase refers to gaining experience of the world at a significant cost. 

A patriotic caricature taunting to the first prominent general of the Confederate States Army. 

The term became a reference to experiencing combat during the Civil 

Self Caricature by Thomas Nast
Thomas Nast, the cartoonist who created the image of Uncle Sam and the Americanized Santa, also popularized the political party mascots.  

Third-Term Panic by Thomas Nast, 1874 

An Ass, having put on the Lion's skin, roamed about in the Forest, and amused himself by frightening all the foolish Animals he met with in his wanderings. - Shakespeare or Bacon

Pilgrims' Promise, Andrew Jackson leading the Democratic Party

The Democratic Donkey was first associated with Andrew Jackson's 1828 presidential campaign. In reaction to his campaign slogan, "Let the people rule" his opponents declared that would be the equivalent of herding a bunch of jackasses into Washington D.C.

Concerning the difference between the human and the jackass,
some say there is none,
but this wrongs the jackass.
- Mark Twain

In addition, Jackson was known for being stubborn and having a temper. Rather than refute the comparison, he successfully embraced the Jackass mascot, and won the presidency. 

Abraham Lincoln's 1864 campaign.
“The Elephant is Coming.”

Abraham Lincoln, like Jackson, effectively used the potentially negative mascot and ran on the slogan, "The Elephant is Coming".

The elephant has 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. - Adlai Stevenson

Jeff, Sees The Elephant

Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America, represented by a donkey, appraises an armed elephant representing the Union. 

The two symbols of the Republican party:
an elephant and a big fat white guy who's threatened by change.
- Family Guy 

RINO - Republican in name only 

DINO - Democrat in name only 

Puck Magazine, critical of Lincoln's policy to provide pensions for the Civil War Veterans

The term white elephant describes the gift of a sacred elephant from the King of Siam. 

[The king] would present of one of these animals to courtiers who had rendered themselves obnoxious, in order to ruin the recipient by the cost of its maintenance.

While Lincoln kept the American landscape free of literal pachyderms, the label White Elephant became a ready adaptation to politics. 

Sarah Palin calls herself and other conservative women Pink Elephants

In addition to the other meanings, "Seeing the Elephant" became a reference to visiting a brothel Seeing 
pink elephants correlated to over indulgence in the brothel's saloon. 

The Elephantine Colossus or The Coney Island Elephant 

The Coney Island Elephant was an enormous structure seen by immigrants before the Statue Of Liberty was constructed. 

So famous was this massive monument [the Elephant Hotel] that for a generation, seeing the elephant signified a quest for satisfactions in disreputable quarters.
- Jon Sterngrass

At 150 feet tall, the elephant was built as a hotel and included a gallery, a grand hall, and an observatory. In declining years, the elephant housed novelty stalls and a brothel. 

Unfortunately the elephant was destroyed in a fire on September 27, 1896. 

The new GOP mascot
Considering the state of American politics, an enormous Elephant brothel is hands down, a more apt representation of America. 

#CivilWar #Military

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