But it didn't take hold as a common symbol of the party until Nast used it in a cartoon titled "The Third-Term Panic" (above) in an 1874 issue of Harper's Weekly.
Nast's cartoon poked fun at the New York Herald, who had been critical of rumors that President Ulysses Grant would seek a third term. The cartoon featured various interest groups represented by animals with a donkey in a lion's skin labeled "Caesarism" at the center. At the edge of a pit was an elephant labeled "The Republican Vote," who Nast portrayed as fearing the Democrat's scare tactic.
Nast would continue to use the animals in cartoons as shorthand for the parties. By the 1880s others were using it as a symbol of the party as well.