Ripon, named for the English cathedral city of Ripon, North Yorkshire, by John S. Horner due to the fact that this is where his ancestors came from when they originally emigrated to America. Horner named not only the town but also most of the streets, his house is still standing today. Ripon was officially founded as a city in 1849 by David P. Mapes, a former New York steamboat captain. Within two years the city had absorbed the nearby commune of Ceresco, established in 1844 by the Wisconsin Phalanx, a group of settlers inspired by the communitarian socialist philosophy of Charles Fourier. Mapes was a founder of Ripon College, originally incorporated as Brockway College in 1851.
Birthplace of the Republican Party
Meeting at a school house in Ripon on February 28, 1854, some 30 opponents of the Kansas-Nebraska Act called for the organization of a new political party (to link their cause with the Declaration of Independence). The group also took a leading role in the creation of the Republican Party in many northern states during the summer of 1854. While conservatives and many moderates were content merely to call for the restoration of the Missouri Compromise or a prohibition of slavery extension, the group insisted that no further political compromise with slavery was possible.
The February 1854 meeting was the first political meeting of the group that would become the Republican Party. The modern Ripon Society, a Republican think tank, takes its name from Ripon, Wisconsin.