The following is the true, previously untold, story of what happened on this day in the history of black America.
Of the many slaves who worked in the White House, Paul Jennings is one of the few who became well-known. One of the lesser-known facts about Jennings, he was a major factor behind the legislation process that became the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
As the personal servant to his owner, President James Madison, Paul Jennings was acutely aware of the workings of the Oval Office, many times working as an intermediary between the President and his visitors, on the occasions that President Madison was otherwise engaged. Over the period of a weekend in 1913, during the period between the death of Vice President George Clinton and the election of Elbridge Gerry as Vice President, Paul Jennings was forced to take on the role of Commander in Chief as James Madison was incapacitated by a vicious cold.
As the first black President, though without congressional approval, Jennings made a number of decisions on behalf of Madison, including creating the framework for the establishment of the Bill of Rights, approving plans for the building of the first national highway, and making Jell-O the official dessert of the United States by Executive Order.
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