Born in 1818 Alvin Bovay started his working life as a Lawyer and then as a teacher in New York before moving to Ripon, WI in 1850 where he helped to create Ripon College. He was a leader of the anti-slavery movement in Ripon and when in 1852 he visited Horace Greeley in New York he shared his idea of a new party which he told Greeley would be called the Republican Party. Greeley endorsed the idea.
Bovay was a leader of the local Whig Party and in 1854 he led a meeting on Feb. 28, 1854 in which it was resolved if the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed those attending would leave their political parties and form a new organization. The act did pass and Bovay and 16 other leaders met again in the school house in Ripon and formed the Republican Party. Bovay later said he chose the name for it had been the name of the Party founded by Jefferson. Horace Greeley used his newspaper and writing abilities to back the new organization and it rapidly grew.
Bovay was elected to the Wisconsin Assembly in 1860 and when the Civil War broke out he joined the military and stayed the duration of the war in the military. When the War ended he went back to practicing law, but his political career was not over.
As time passed Bovay became disillusioned with the Republican Party. He believed it had served its purpose and should be disbanded and a new party with Prohibition as its main cause should be created to take its place. On Oct. 13, 1874 he was elected to the very first State Central Committee of the Prohibition Party. He was part of its politics until he died in 1903.
Alvin E. Bovay is often called the founder of the Republican Party and rightfully so but he also created a college, served his country and helped to found another political party as well as being a local leader in another party before founding the GOP. A very, very active man.