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How Democrats Got To Be Jackasses – Tom Nast

Speaking as we have been of political cartoons and especially the immortal Thomas Nast, we should remember him as the originator of the all too apt symbol of the Democrat Party — the jackass.

And, lo and behold, it was for their seditious ‘Copperhead’ sentiments that Nast first portrayed them as such:

On January 15, 1870 a political cartoon appearing in Harper’s Weekly titled "A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion" by Thomas Nast, for the first time symbolized the Democratic Party as a donkey.

Since then, the donkey has been widely used a symbol of the party, though unlike the Republican elephant, the donkey has never been officially adopted as the party’s logo.

Edwin M. Stanton was the then recently deceased Secretary of War, a post he had held during the Civil War and into Reconstruction.

In the interest of accuracy, it should be noted that Democrat Presidential candidate Andrew Jackson had 40 years earlier (and ironically) used a donkey in some of his campaign posters, after having been regularly accused of being a stubborn jackass by his opponents.

But it was not until Nast’s cartoons that the donkey become widely and forever associated with the Democrat Party. (Nast was apparently unaware of its previous associations with Jackson.)

Similarly, the elephant had been previously loosely connected with the Republican Party. But it was a Nast cartoon published by Harper’s Weekly in 1874 that caused it to become fixed as the GOP’s symbol in the mind of the public.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, December 3rd, 2005. Comments are currently closed.

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