The Little White Schoolhouse

The Little White Schoolhouse, also known as the republican schoolhouse, is known as the place where the Republican Party was born. This schoolhouse is considered a National Historic Landmark and is located in Ripon, Wisconsin. The schoolhouse has been moved many times over the years.


The schoolhouse was built in 1853 at the original location in Ripon, Wisconsin, a young town at the time. It was considered quite the modern school of the era as Alvan Bovay, a transplant from New York, founded it. As the founder, Bovay used his position to get into politics further. He founded the Republican Party within the very walls of the schoolhouse at a meeting for the locals of the area.

It didn’t take long for the town to outgrow the tiny building, so a larger building of brick was built to replace it. The original schoolhouse was sold and used as a home for the Wisconsin governor, George Peck.

The original schoolhouse was in danger of being demolished by the early twentieth century as it had become inhabitable. Because it was historically significant, though, it was decided to try and preserve the building instead.

With the introduction of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill in 1854, opposition grew. The Democratic Party, the dominant party of the time, championed the Bill. Several of the smaller parties at the time, including the Free Soil Party and the Whig Party, opposed the Bill and there was some splintering in the Democratic Party. Bovay, the founder of the schoolhouse in Ripon, led the opposition and went out to gather support in opposition of the Bill from members of all the parties that were local. On March 20th, he called a meeting. At that meeting, the Free Soil party and the Whig party decided to dissolve themselves and create a new party, the Republican Party. At that time, many Democrats defected and joined them as well. Word of the new party spread, thanks to the publicity from the NY Tribune, and other state and local chapters joined the party as well.

If you decide to take a trip to Wisconsin, be sure to check out this awesome landmark!