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Why Does a Donkey Symbolize the Democratic Party?

You know someone is a born leader when he can turn an insult into an icon. As Andrew Jackson was running for president in 1828, some of his opponents tried to knock him down by labeling him a "jackass." The Democrat was known as a stubborn man, so rather than bristling at the abuse, he embraced it by putting a donkey on his campaign posters.

While the image stuck, it wasn't until 1870 that cartoonist Thomas Nast drew a donkey to represent northern Democrats who opposed the Civil War. Four years later, he followed up that Harper's Weekly image with another cartoon donkey to represent Democrats in a fight with Republicans, who were symbolized by an elephant for the first time. Over the years, more cartoonists across the country joined in, and the Democratic donkey and Republican elephant have been running wild ever since.

Do you know donkeys?

  • Despite their reputation as being stubborn, donkeys are actually social, loyal, and intelligent.

  • Donkeys are often used to protect sheep, cattle, and goats against attacks by coyotes and other canines.

  • A donkey can live 50 years and remember other donkeys encountered 25 years earlier.
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