This Day in History: Jan. 13

On this day, Jan. 13 …

1968: Johnny Cash performs and records a pair of shows at Folsom State Prison in California; material from the concerts are released as an album by Columbia Records under the title “Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison,” which proves to be a hit.

Also on this day:

  • 1794: President George Washington approves a measure adding two stars and two stripes to the American flag, following the admission of Vermont and Kentucky to the Union. (The number of stripes would be later reduced to the original 13.)
  • 1915: A magnitude-7 earthquake centered in Avezzano, Italy, claims some 30,000 lives.
  • 1941: A new law goes into effect granting Puerto Ricans U.S. birthright citizenship. 
  • 1941: Novelist and poet James Joyce dies in Zurich, Switzerland.
  • 1962: Comedian Ernie Kovacs dies in a car crash in west Los Angeles.
  • 1964: Roman Catholic Bishop Karol Wojtyla (the future Pope John Paul II) is appointed Archbishop of Krakow, Poland, by Pope Paul VI.
  • 1990: L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia becomes the nation’s first elected black governor as he takes the oath of office in Richmond.
  • 1992: Japan apologizes for forcing tens of thousands of Korean women to serve as sex slaves for its soldiers during World War II, citing newly uncovered documents that showed the Japanese army had had a role in abducting the so-called “comfort women.”
  • 1997: Seven black soldiers are awarded the Medal of Honor for World War II valor; the lone survivor of the group, former Lt. Vernon Baker, receives his medal from President Bill Clinton at the White House.
  • 2000: Microsoft chairman Bill Gates steps aside as chief executive and promotes company president Steve Ballmer to the position.
  • 2009: President-elect Barack Obama’s nominee for secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, vows during her Senate confirmation hearing to revitalize the mission of diplomacy in U.S. foreign policy. 
  • 2009: U.S. Marshals apprehend Marcus Schrenker, 38, in North Florida days after the businessman and amateur daredevil pilot apparently tried to fake his own death in a plane crash. (Schrenker would be sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to securities fraud charges, on top of four years in federal prison on charges stemming from the plane crash.) 
  • 2018: A false alarm that warned of a ballistic missile headed for Hawaii sends the islands into a panic, with people abandoning cars on a highway and preparing to flee their homes; officials apologize and say the alert was sent when someone hit the wrong button during a shift change.