On This Day, Jan. 15, 1870 – The Donkey and the Democrats Join Hands


1870 – A cartoon by Thomas Nast titled “A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion” appeared in “Harper’s Weekly.” The cartoon used the donkey to symbolize the Democratic Party for the first time.

The donkey was labeled “COPPERHEAD PAPERS” – copperheads were Northern Democrats and the lion was inscribed with “HON. E.M. STANTON” who was Lincoln’s Secretary of War. Lincoln was the first Republican president.

Nast was born in Landau, Germany in 1840 and his parents moved the family to New York when he was six. He and his sister were enrolled in public school and Nast’s performance was dismal. He did not speak English and was in danger of failing. His neighbor gave him crayons, seconds from his own manufacturing effort, and Nast learned to draw beautifully. He was basically illiterate and remained so all his life. He was enrolled in art school at age 12 but was forced to leave at age 15 due to financial constraints.

Nast was not just a political activist in the US, but also in Europe where he was sent in 1860. He drew pictures depicting the Garibaldi military campaign – an effort to unite Italy – that interested people on both sides of the Atlantic. He came back to the States and Harper’s and took up his pen to fight the Civil War. His drawings of southern and border state battlefields led Lincoln to say that he was “our best recruiting sergeant.”

Nast not only gave us the Democrat Donkey, but also the Republican Elephant. He is responsible for our picture of Uncle Sam as a tall, lanky, bearded man. Prior to Nast’s drawings, there was no beard. He was also partly responsible for bringing down the Boss Tweed Ring in New York City. His cartoons even influenced Presidential elections. He was also famous for his Christmas drawings and is responsible for our idea of how Santa Claus looks, based on Clement Moore’s poem. He also placed Santa at the North Pole so that no nation would have control of the jolly elf. He gave him a workshop and elves to help assemble toys.

1559 – England’s Queen Elizabeth I (Elizabeth Tudor) was crowned in Westminster Abbey.

1624 – Riots occurred in Mexico when it was announced that all churches were to be closed.h

1777 – The people of New Connecticut (now the state of Vermont) declared their independence.

1844 – The University of Notre Dame received its charter from the state of Indiana.

1863 – “The Boston Morning Journal” became the first paper in the U.S. to be published on wood pulp paper.

1892 – “Triangle” magazine in Springfield, MA, published the rules for a brand new game. The original rules involved attaching a peach baskets to a suspended board. It is now known as basketball.

1908 – Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority became America’s first Greek-letter organization established by African-American college women.

1913 – The first telephone line between Berlin and New York was inaugurated. 

1936 – The first, all glass, windowless building was completed in Toledo, OH. The building was the new home of the Owens-Illinois Glass Company Laboratory.

1943 – The Pentagon was dedicated as the world’s largest office building just outside Washington, DC, in Arlington, VA. The structure covers 34 acres of land and has 17 miles of corridors.

1953Harry S Truman became the first U.S. President to use radio and television to give his farewell as he left office.

1955 – The first solar-heated, radiation-cooled house was built by Raymond Bliss in Tucson, AZ.

1967 – The first National Football League Super Bowl was played. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs of the American Football League. The final score was 35-10.

1973President Richard Nixon announced the suspension of all U.S. offensive action in North Vietnam. He cited progress in peace negotiations as the reason.

1974 – “Happy Days” premiered on ABC-TV.

1986 – President Reagan signed legislation making Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a national holiday to be celebrated on the third Monday of January. 


Source: On-This-Day.com; patriciahysell.wordpress.com


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