April 19

On this day. 1809: The father of the Constitution — President James Madison — purchased a slave to work in the White House. The seller: the father of the Declaration of Independence, former President Thomas Jefferson. Even more ironic, the name of the slave Jefferson sold to Madison was... John Freeman.

On this day. 1933: In his ongoing efforts to combat the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt took the U.S. off the gold standard. FDR did so because Americans had lost faith in the dollar, and, in "bank runs," were unloading them for gold. This run on banks during the Depression took cash out of circulation, hurting the economy. Roosevelt's nationalizing of gold had another reason: He was planning a number of expensive social and economic programs and he needed money to finance them. Controlling the gold supply would give him more control over the money supply. America's remaining ties to the gold standard were severed by President Nixon in 1971; he said the U.S. would not exchange dollars for gold for anyone.

On this day. 1995: Hours after the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City — that killed 168 men, women and children — a shocked and saddened President Bill Clinton called it "an act of cowardice," and said "The United States will not tolerate it. And I will not allow the people of this country to be intimidated by evil cowards." Clinton declared an emergency in Oklahoma City and sent an FBI team to investigate.

Quote of the day

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary." -James Madison

More from West Wing Reports...

* Gun debate shows pitfalls of filibuster overhaul

* Background checks: How your senator voted

* Gun-bill defeat: Where does Obama go from here?