On this day, Feb. 11 …

1990: Nelson Mandela is freed after 27 years in captivity.

Also on this day:

  • 1531: The Church of England grudgingly accepted King Henry VIII as its supreme head.
  • 1929: The Lateran Treaty is signed, with Italy recognizing the independence and sovereignty of Vatican City.
  • 1937: A six-week-old sit-down strike against General Motors ends, 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 sign the Yalta Agreement, in which Stalin agrees to declare war against Imperial Japan following Nazi Germany’s capitulation.
  • 1963: American author and poet Sylvia Plath, 30. is found dead in her London flat, in a suicide.
  • 1968: New York City’s fourth and current Madison Square Garden, located on Manhattan’s West Side at the site of what used to be the Pennsylvania Station building, opens with a “Salute to the USO” hosted by Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.
  • 1979: Followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini seize power in Iran.
  • 2006: Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shoots and wounds Harry Whittington, a companion during a weekend quail-hunting trip in Texas.
  • 2008: The Pentagon charges Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and five other detainees at Guantanamo Bay with murder and war crimes in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks.
  • 2009: Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., who first went to Congress in 1955, becomes the longest-serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives. (Dingell would become the longest-serving member of Congress in June 2013, surpassing Sen. Robert Byrd’s combined House and Senate service of 20,995 days.)
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  • 2012: Whitney Houston, 48, is found dead in a hotel room bathtub in Beverly Hills, Calif.
  • 2013: With a few words in Latin, Pope Benedict XVI does what no pope had done in more than half a millennium: announces his resignation. The bombshell comes during a routine morning meeting of Vatican cardinals.
  • 2014: At the Sochi Games, Carina Vogt of Germany wins women’s ski jumping’s first-ever Olympic gold medal.