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February 11, 2013

Today in History

Today is Monday, Feb. 11, the 42nd day of 2013. There are 323 days left in the year.

Today’s highlight in history:

On Feb. 11, 1963, American author and poet Sylvia Plath was found dead in her London flat, a suicide; she was 30.

On this date:

In 1812, Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry signed a re-districting law favoring his Democratic-Republican Party — giving rise to the term “gerrymandering.”

In 1858, a French girl, Bernadette Soubirous, reported the first of 18 visions of a lady dressed in white in a grotto near Lourdes. (The Catholic Church later accepted that the visions were of the Virgin Mary.)

In 1862, the Civil War Battle of Fort Donelson began in Tennessee. (Union forces led by Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant captured the fort five days later.)

In 1929, the Lateran Treaty was signed, with Italy recognizing the independence and sovereignty of Vatican City.

In 1937, a 6-week-old sit-down strike against General Motors ended, with the company agreeing to recognize the United Automobile Workers Union.

In 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin signed the Yalta Agreement during World War II.

In 1960, “Tonight Show” host Jack Paar walked off the program in a censorship dispute with NBC. (Despite his very public resignation, Paar returned to the Tonight Show less than a month later.)

In 1972, McGraw-Hill Publishing Co. and Life magazine canceled plans to publish what had turned out to be a fake autobiography of reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes.

In 1975, Margaret Thatcher was elected leader of Britain’s opposition Conservative Party.

In 1979, followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini seized power in Iran.

In 1990, South African black activist Nelson Mandela was freed after 27 years in captivity.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton announced his choice of Miami prosecutor Janet Reno to be the nation’s first female attorney general, after two earlier candidates stumbled because they’d hired illegal aliens.

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