1812 -- Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry signed a re-districting law favoring his party and giving rise to the term "gerrymandering."
1847 -- American inventor Thomas Alva Edison was born in Milan, Ohio.
1858 -- a French girl, Bernadette Soubirous, claimed for the first time to have seen a vision of the Virgin Mary near Lourdes.
1861 -- President-elect Lincoln departed Springfield, Ill., for Washington.
1929 -- the Lateran Treaty was signed, with Italy recognizing the independence and sovereignty of Vatican City.
1937 -- a sit-down strike against General Motors ended, with the company agreeing to recognize the United Automobile Workers Union.
1945 -- President Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin signed the Yalta Agreement during World War II.
1979 -- followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini seized power in Iran.
1990 -- South African black activist Nelson Mandela was freed after 27 years in captivity.
1993 -- President Clinton announced his choice of Miami prosecutor Janet Reno to be the nation's first female attorney general.
1989 -- Reverend Barbara C. Harris became the first woman consecrated as a bishop in the Episcopal Church, in a ceremony held in Boston.
1994 -- President Clinton and Japanese Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, meeting at the White House, failed to resolve key differences on trade. The space shuttle "Discovery" returned from an eight-day mission. Actor William Conrad died in Los Angeles at age 73.
1998 -- Attorney General Janet Reno asked for an independent prosecutor to investigate whether Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt had misled Congress in connection with an Indian casino controversy; the counsel was later appointed. Skier Jonny Moseley won the first U.S. gold medal at Nagano, in men's moguls freestyle; Picabo Street won the women's super-G. Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati was stripped of his gold medal after testing positive for marijuana. (His medal was later reinstated.)
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