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Mubarak Resignation Adds to Feb. 11's Notable History

An Egyptian woman cries as she celebrates news of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, who handed control of the country to the military, at night in Cairo's Tahrir Square Feb. 11, 2011. AP Photo

The announcement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation Friday prompted Vice President Joe Biden to say it's a historic day. History shows that he'd be correct even before hundreds of thousands of Egyptians rallied for more than two weeks to oust their 30-year dictator.

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Feb. 11 has had its share of events where underdogs were hoisted on the shoulders of victory and unpopular rulers were chased from power as well as where freedom and democracy suffered losses.

The most notable Feb. 11 coincidence comes from 1990, when South African leader Nelson Mandela was freed after spending 27 years imprisoned in the apartheid-supporting government's prisons.

Conversely, on Feb. 11, 1979, nine days after Iranian religious leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to his home country, his followers seized power. (In 2010, on the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's security forces conducted a crushing sweep against opposition protesters.)

American history produced a somewhat similar example to Friday's events. According to, Sir James Wright, the royal governor of the British colony of Georgia, escaped from Savannah to the HMS Scarborough, a British warship, on Feb. 11, 1776, nearly a month after patriots placed him under house arrest. Wright sailed on the Scarborough back to London.

Eighty-five years later, President-elect Lincoln said goodbye to his adopted hometown of Springfield, Ill., and began his journey to Washington for his inauguration on Feb. 11, 1861. (Inauguration Day was held in March until the 20th Amendment, ratified in 1933, moved it to Jan. 20.)

In the sports world, Mike Tyson, the heavyweight champion of the world, was on the losing side of one of the biggest upsets in boxing history after being knocked out by underdog James "Buster" Douglas in the 10th round of a match in Tokyo also on Feb. 11, 1990.

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