(Images: WikiCommons; EPA/Chris Kleponis)

The Republican Party was born on March 20, 1854, in a one-room Wisconsin schoolhouse. No one present could have imagined what lay ahead. That humble gathering presaged the emergence of the most successful political force in American history.

Just seven years later Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as the first Republican president of the United States. Over the next 72 years, the party produced 12 of 15 presidents, governing for 52 years between them. Yet in today's Republican Party they are all but forgotten.

It is understandable that Republicans might prefer to forget Herbert Hoover, whose disastrous response to the 1929 sharemarket crash led directly to the Great Depression. Or Richard Nixon, whose name will forever be linked in infamy with the Watergate scandal.