In the 1828 election, advocates for President John Q. Adams called Andrew Jackson a jackass. Adams wanted Americans to think of Jackson as a foolish, stupid and stubborn person, a blockhead, and an idiot. Instead, Andrew Jackson took this insult and turned it into a compliment. He used the image of a donkey on his campaign posters and took the mantle of a strong-willed candidate. For decades after, the donkey was, at times, associated with the Democrat Party.
In 1874, cartoonist Thomas Nast drew a donkey in a lion’s costume scaring away all the animals. Only the elephant is shown as being not afraid. Nast wrote “The Republican Vote” on the elephant. From this time, the elephant has symbolized the Republican Party.
Today, Democrats may argue that the donkey is tough, while Republican may say the elephant is strong.