Today is election day in America. Because I didn’t know, I figured now was the perfect time to look up why the donkey is the symbol of the Democratic political party in the minds of most Americans.    

It so happens that when Andrew Jackson ran for the presidency in 1828, his campaign slogan was “Let the people rule,” which caused his opponents to label him as a “jackass” for his populist platform. Jackson was not dismayed, but instead, embraced the donkey for its tenaciousness and used it on his campaign posters. Later, during Jackson’s term in the White House, he was widely depicted as a donkey for his legendary stubbornness.

The famous political cartoonist, Thomas Nast, is actually credited with making the donkey the recognized – yet unofficial – symbol of the Democratic Party in January 1870. Nast used a donkey as a symbol for the Dems in “A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion” published in Harper’s Weekly to comment on Northern Democrats’ (nicknamed Copperheads) dealings with Edwin M. Stanton, Lincoln’s Secretary of War. 

The donkey stuck.