Wait, What Did You Call Me?

What insult did opponents of Andrew Jackson’s throw his way that backfired when he ended up liking it, and has been associated with his party ever since?

“Jackass.”

That’s right. Jackson was theĀ first Democrat to be associated with the donkey symbol. During the election of 1828, his adversaries tried to label him a “jackass” for his slogan, “Let the people rule,” and his populist agenda. Jackson thought it was hilarious, and started using the “ass” on his campaign posters. By 1870, cartoonist Thomas Nash popularized the already popular unofficial party symbol, thus sealing the Democrats as the donkeys.

And while that word is an insult that we’re still familiar with nowadays, a few other expressions that were floating around in the 1800s have fallen out of use today. Shame – some of these sound like they’d roll off the tongue nicely.

Quockerwodger

A rare nineteenth-century word for a wooden toy which briefly became a political insult.

Buncombe

A word that originated in 1819 to mean a ludicrously false statement. Equivalent of bullshit or nonsense.

Turncoat

One who switches to an opposing side or party; specifically : traitor.

“A rigid, fanatic, ambitious, selfish partisan, and sectional turncoat with too much genius and too little common sense, who will either die a traitor or a madman”
Jackson on John Calhoun

Popinjay

A dated description for politicians; A vain and talkative person who chatters like a parrot.

Unctuous

Characterized by excessive piousness or moralistic fervor, especially in an affected manner; cloyingly smooth, suave or smug.

Image by theĀ Project Twins.