Although the donkey was not recognized as the Democratic Party’s unofficial mascot until the late 19th century, opponents of Andrew Jackson had famously referred to him as a “jackass,” leading political cartoonists to include depictions of donkeys in works critical of him during the 1828 Presidential Election. Jackson then famously countered his opponent’s taunts, celebrating the beast’s strong will and determination. Even so, the animal was still used throughout the mid-19th century politicians that critics found distasteful. This broadside uses the animal to symbolize James Buchanan during the 1856 Presidential race. The caption above the donkey announces, “Hunkers Attend! Fire Away!!” Hunkers was the term employed during the 1840s to describe members of the conservative Democratic faction in New York that opposed calls for abolition. A caption below the image explains that the animal represents a true likeness of Buchanan, nicknamed “ten cent Jimmy” after he stated his belief that ten cents was a fair daily wage for manual laborers. The print also refers to Buchanan as the candidate for the “Damed-Black-Rat Party,” a play on the word, “Democrat.” The cartoon also contains two songs, “Old Buck’s Song,” and Fremont’s Song.” The first attacks Buchanan while the second celebrates John C. Fremont, the Republican candidate for President. The print ends with a postscript, “‘Jimmy’ you cannot win.” Although the use of the word “Hunkers” hints that the broadside was presumably distributed in New York, it claims to have been printed at “Freedom’s Office, Fremont Peak, Rocky Mountains.” This alludes to Fremont’s earlier exploring expeditions in the American West.
Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.