"We had better live as we think, otherwise we shall end up by thinking as we have lived."

Paul Bourget, French author (1852-1935)

Feb. 11, 1812: Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry signed a redistricting law favoring his Democratic-Republican Party — giving rise to the term "gerrymandering."

660 B.C.: Tradition holds that Japan was founded as Jimmu ascended the throne as the country's first emperor.

1858: A French girl, Bernadette Soubirous, reported the first of 18 visions of a lady dressed in white in a grotto near Lourdes.

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

1937: A six-week-old sit-down strike against General Motors ended, with the company agreeing to recognize the United Automobile Workers Union.

1945: President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin signed the Yalta Agreement, in which Stalin agreed to declare war against Japan following Germany's capitulation.

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

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.

1986: Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky was released by the Soviet Union after nine years of captivity as part of an East-West prisoner exchange.

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

2012: Pop singer Whitney Houston, 48, was found dead in a hotel room in Beverly Hills, California.

2013: Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation during a routine morning meeting of Vatican cardinals.

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