Today in History

Today is Wednesday, Jan. 13, the 13th day of 2021. There are 352 days left in the year.

Today’s highlight in history

On Jan. 13, 1982, an Air Florida 737 crashed into Washington‘s 14th Street Bridge and fell into the Potomac River while trying to take off during a snowstorm, killing a total of 78 people, including four motorists on the bridge; four passengers and a flight attendant survived.

On this date

In 1733, James Oglethorpe and some 120 English colonists arrived at Charleston, South Carolina, while en route to settle in present-day Georgia.

In 1794, President George Washington approved 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 was later reduced to the original 13.)

In 1898, Emile Zola’s famous defense of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, “J’accuse,” was published in Paris.

In 1941, a new law went into effect granting Puerto Ricans U.S. birthright citizenship. Novelist and poet James Joyce died in Zurich, Switzerland, less than a month before his 59th birthday.

In 1964, Roman Catholic Bishop Karol Wojtyla (the future Pope John Paul II) was appointed Archbishop of Krakow, Poland, by Pope Paul VI.

In 1967, the Rolling Stones’ double-A sided single “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and “Ruby Tuesday” was released in the United Kingdom by Decca Records. (It was released the following day in the United States on the London label.)

In 1992, Japan apologized 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.”

In 2001, an earthquake estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey at magnitude 7.7 struck El Salvador; more than 840 people were killed.

In 2005, Major League Baseball adopted a tougher steroid-testing program that would suspend first-time offenders for 10 days and randomly test players year-round.

In 2010, Haitians piled bodies along the devastated streets of their capital a day after a powerful earthquake, while in Washington, President Barack Obama pledged an all-out rescue and relief effort. R&B singer Teddy Pendergrass died in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, at age 59.

In 2018, a false alarm that warned of a ballistic missile headed for Hawaii sent the islands into a panic, with people abandoning cars on a highway and preparing to flee their homes; officials apologized and said the alert was sent when someone hit the wrong button during a shift change.

Ten years ago

Vice President Joe Biden became the first top U.S. official to visit Iraq since the country approved a new Cabinet; Biden emphasized to Iraqi leaders that the U.S. wanted nothing more than for Iraq to be free and democratic.

Five years ago

Less than a day after 10 U.S. Navy sailors were detained in Iran when their boats drifted into Iranian waters, they and their vessels were back safely with the American fleet.

One year ago

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker dropped out of the Democratic presidential race after failing to qualify for a December debate.

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