[Johnny Cash first recorded Folsom Prison Blues in 1955, which is when his zeal for prison reform was born; he had to wait a dozen years, however, to see his dream of performing live for prisoners made a reality... That's when Columbia Records executive Bob Johnston finally let him do it, even going so far as to produce the groundbreaking album himself. Cash's empathy for that segment of the population least likely to receive it was a hallmark of his unique brand of humanism, and accounts for much of his popularity still.]
1435 - The papal bull Sicut Dudum was promulgated by Pope Eugene IV, banning the enslavement of baptized black natives in the Canary Islands by raiders from rivals Portugal and the Kingdom of Castile, who both laid claim to the mid-Atlantic island chain; it was intended to strengthen a previous encyclical, Creator Omnium, which he'd published in December 1434. Like most such documents it was largely ignored, even upon fear of excommunication, although it was later clarified in Pope Nicholas V's Romanus Pontifex of January 1455 that the enslavement of unbaptized blacks was still perfectly alright, since they were 'the enemies of Christ'... And because, y'know, that's what Jesus would do.
1547 - Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey was sentenced to death; the little-known life story of this 'flamboyant and controversial' courtier is told in the book Henry VIII's Last Victim: The Life and Times of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey by Jessie Childs.
1766 - Denmark's King Frederick V died; he was succeeded by his son, who reigned as Christian VII.
1822 - The design of the Greek flag was adopted by the First National Assembly at Epidaurus.
1840 - The steamship Lexington caught fire four miles off the coast of Long Island, sinking early the next morning with the loss of 139 lives; there were just four survivors.
1842 - Dr. William Brydon, a surgeon in the British Army during the First Anglo-Afghan War, became famous for being the sole survivor of an army of 16,500 when he reached the safety of a garrison in Jalalabad.
1847 - The Treaty of Cahuenga ended the Mexican-American War in California.
1898 - Emile Zola's open letter to the people of France entitled J'accuse exposed the Dreyfus Affair.
1908 - Pennsylvania's Rhoads Opera House in Boyertown caught fire, killing 171 people.
1913 - Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was founded on the campus of Howard University as the second black Greek letter organization for women; its mission from the beginning was to engage in social activism.
1915 - An earthquake in Avezzano, Italy, killed 29,800.
1939 - Australia's Black Friday bush fires burnt 20,000 square kilometres near Melbourne claiming the lives of 71 people.
1964 - Sectarian rioting erupted in the Indian city of Kolkata - resulting in the deaths of more than 100 people.
1968 - Johnny Cash recorded his landmark album At Folsom Prison live at California's Folsom State Prison backed by June Carter, Carl Perkins, and Cash's band, the Tennessee Three. Cash actually recorded two shows there that day, with 13 songs from the first show and two from the second eventually making it onto the album.
1972 - Prime Minister Kofi Busia and President Edward Akufo-Addo of Ghana were ousted in a bloodless military coup by Col. Ignatius Kutu Acheamphong.
1974 - Seraphim was elected Archbishop of Athens and All Greece.
1982 - Shortly after takeoff Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into Washington DC's 14th Street Bridge and fell into the Potomac River, killing 78 (including four motorists); the crash also caused a commuter train to derail, killing 3 more.
2001 - An earthquake struck El Salvador, killing more than 800.
2004 - Serial killer Harold Shipman - a medical doctor believed to be responsible for the deaths of between 218 and 450 of his patients during the Shipman Inquiry - was found hanging in his cell at Wakefield Prison - which action thrilled the tabloid press and Home Secretary David Blunkett but which dismayed the families of his many victims and potential victims.
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