"Opinion is that exercise of the human will which helps us to make a decision without information."

John Erskine, American author and educator (1879-1951)

Feb. 18, 1516: Mary Tudor, the Queen of England who came to be known as "Bloody Mary" for her persecution of Protestants, was born in Greenwich.

1546: Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation in Germany, died in Eisleben.

1861: Jefferson Davis was sworn in as provisional president of the Confederate States of America in Montgomery, Alabama.

1885: Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" was published in the U.S. for the first time.

1930: Photographic evidence of Pluto was discovered by Clyde W. Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.

1943: Madame Chiang Kai-shek, wife of the Chinese leader, addressed members of the Senate and then the House, becoming the first Chinese national to address both houses of the U.S. Congress.

1953: "Bwana Devil," the movie that heralded the 3D fad of the 1950s, had its New York opening.

1960: The 8th Winter Olympic Games were formally opened in Squaw Valley, California, by Vice President Richard M. Nixon.

1970: The "Chicago Seven" defendants were found not guilty of conspiring to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic national convention; five were convicted of violating the Anti-Riot Act of 1968.

1984: Italy and the Vatican signed an accord under which Roman Catholicism ceased to be the state religion of Italy.

1995: The NAACP replaced veteran chairman William Gibson with Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

2001: Auto racing star Dale Earnhardt Sr. died in a crash at the Daytona 500; he was 49.

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