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This Day in History: January 13


1815 – War of 1812: British troops capture Fort Peter in St. Marys, Georgia, the only battle of the war to take place in the state.

1830 – The Great Fire of New Orleans begins.

1833 – United States President Andrew Jackson writes to Vice President Martin Van Buren expressing his opposition to South Carolina's defiance of federal authority in the Nullification Crisis.

1840 – The steamship Lexington burns and sinks four miles off the coast of Long Island with the loss of 139 lives.

1847 – The Treaty of Cahuenga ends the Mexican–American War in California.

1869 – National convention of black leaders meets in Washington, D.C.

1893 – U.S. Marines land in Honolulu, Hawaii from the USS Boston to prevent the queen from abrogating the Bayonet Constitution.

1888 – The National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, D.C.

1908 – The Rhoads Opera House fire in Boyertown, Pennsylvania kills 171 people.

1910 – The first public radio broadcast takes place; a live performance of the operas Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci are sent out over the airwaves from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

1913 – Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated was founded on the campus of Howard University.

1942 – Henry Ford patents a plastic automobile, which is 30% lighter than a regular car.

1966 – Robert C. Weaver becomes the first African American Cabinet member when he is appointed United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

1968 – Johnny Cash performs live at Folsom State Prison

1978 – United States Food and Drug Administration requires all blood donations to be labeled "paid" or "volunteer" donors.

1982 – Shortly after takeoff, Air Florida Flight 90, a Boeing 737 jet, crashes into Washington, D.C.'s 14th Street Bridge and falls into the Potomac River, killing 78 including four motorists.

1990 – Douglas Wilder becomes the first elected African American governor as he takes office in Richmond, Virginia.

1993 – Space Shuttle program: Endeavour heads for space for the third time as STS-54 launches from the Kennedy Space Center.

2000 – Bill Gates resigns as CEO of Microsoft.


1808 – Salmon P. Chase, American jurist and politician, 6th Chief Justice of the United States (d. 1873)

1870 – Ross Granville Harrison, American biologist and anatomist (d. 1959)

1885 – Alfred Fuller, Canadian-American businessman, founded the Fuller Brush Company (d. 1973)

1893 – Clark Ashton Smith, American poet, sculptor, painter, and author (d. 1961)

1901 – A. B. Guthrie, Jr., American historian and author (d. 1991)

1919 – Robert Stack, American actor and producer (d. 2003)

1940 – Edmund White, American author and playwright

1943 – William Duckworth, American composer and author (d. 2012)

1961 – Julia Louis-Dreyfus, American actress, comedian and producer

1962 – Trace Adkins, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor


1860 – William Mason, American surgeon and politician (b. 1786)

1864 – Stephen Foster, American composer and songwriter (b. 1826)

1885 – Schuyler Colfax, American journalist and politician, 17th Vice President of the United States (b. 1823)

1929 – Wyatt Earp, American police officer (b. 1848)

1958 – Jesse L. Lasky, American film producer, co-founded Paramount Pictures (b. 1880)

1978 – Hubert Humphrey, American pharmacist, academic, and politician, 38th Vice President of the United States (b. 1911)

1978 – Joe McCarthy, American baseball player and manager (b. 1887)

2009 – W. D. Snodgrass, American poet and academic (b. 1926)