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At least two cities — in Wisconsin and Michigan — claim to be the birthplace of the national Republican Party.

The Little White Schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin, is “generally regarded as the traditional birthplace” of the party, according to the National Register of Historic Places. 

According to the museum located in the old schoolhouse, a meeting there in March 1854, and another in Jackson, Michigan, in July 1854, led to the party’s formation. The meetings were held in protest of plans to expand slavery westward.

Michigan’s Jackson County Republican Party calls Jackson the GOP birthplace.

The Michigan news website MLive reported in 2011 that the national GOP removed from its website references to Ripon and Jackson as playing roles in the party’s formation.

The website had said the party’s first informal meeting was in Ripon and first official meeting was in Jackson, MLive reported.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


National Park Service National Historic Landmarks

Birthplace of the Republican Party Birthplace of the Republican Party

Jackson County Republican Committee Please Watch ‘Birthplace of the Republican Party’

WBUR (Boston) In The GOP’s Birthplace, Wisconsin Republicans Worry About The Future Of Their Party

Washington Post Paternity Disputes Over Birth of a Party

MLive (MI) Republican National Committee no longer lists Jackson as birthplace of Republican Party

US Department of the Interior Little White Schoolhouse

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Tom Kertscher / Wisconsin WatchFact Checker

Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for PolitiFact and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.