The names of Jim Smiley’s two prized pets, Dan’l Webster and Andrew Jackson (his frog and bulldog, respectively), symbolize regional differences in the country because the names hearken back to two important politicians hailing from different parts of the country who fought each other’s policies. In real life, Daniel Webster and Andrew Jackson were political adversaries. Indeed, Webster was a conservative senator from the East who led the opposition to the policies of Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of the United States, who was born and raised in the South. Unlike Jackson, Webster lost all three of his presidential elections. During their lifetimes, the politicians Webster and Jackson pursued different ideologies and career paths for enacting those beliefs, but they were both working toward the common goal of improving their country, the United States. Likewise, the bulldog and the frog compete in fundamentally different competitions (dog fights and jumping competitions, respectively), but they have different strengths that work toward the common good of making Smiley rich. By unifying two celebrity enemies within his own home, a symbolic United States, Smiley acts as glue binding his replicated country together.
Rather than focus on the friction between the different cultures and ideologies found across the United States, this story seeks to celebrate and preserve their unique identities. In naming two of his most beloved pets after two famous and diametrically opposed political figures, Smiley gracefully unites his own versions of the political enemies—hailing from different parts of the country—in his own backyard. In this way, Smiley brings together the regional differences in the country and demonstrates how their various strengths can be united into one whole.
Smiley’s Pets’ Names Quotes in The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
“But as soon as money was up on him he was a different dog; his under-jaw'd begin to stick out like the fo'castle of a steamboat, and his teeth would uncover and shine like the furnaces.”
“He ketched a frog one day, and took him home, and said he cal'lated to educate him; and so he never done nothing for three months but set in his back yard and learn that frog to jump.”
“Smiley said all a frog wanted was education, and he could do 'most anything—and I believe him.”
“[…] the new frog hopped off lively, but Dan'l give a heave, and hysted up his shoulders—so—like a Frenchman, but it warn't no use—he couldn't budge; he was planted as solid as a church, and he couldn't no more stir than if he was anchored out.”