This Day in History: April 27

1846: U.S. Declares War on Mexico: The area now known as Texas was part of Mexico until it declared its independence and later voted to be annexed by the United States. Mexico did not recognize either outcome, and President James K. Polk offered to buy the disputed territories. Mexico refused, and he declared war. Abolitionists, the Whig party and others opposed the war, but the United States won a massive expanse of land through the treat of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, and a small part of Wyoming all were ceded to the United States.

1894: Pullman strike: One of the largest and most important companies in the history of the United States was the Pullman Company, which made railroad cars. Most of its workers lived in factory towns named for the company, and when workers were laid off and wages lowered, the American Railway Union, led by Socialist Eugene Debs, declared a strike. Debs and the strikers declared a boycott of all trains using Pullman cars, causing a halt in all railroad activity west of Detroit. Grover Cleveland called in the army to break up the ultimately unsuccessful strikers, and Debs was arrested.

1927: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences founded: Known informally as “The Academy,” the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded by Louis B. Mayer, of MGM, as a professional organization for those in the film industry. The original purpose of the Academy was to mediate labor disputes without unions but later on, the biggest function became doling out awards to industry leaders, an annual event now known as the Academy Awards.

1960: Adolf Eichmann captured in Argentina: Many Nazi war criminals took refuge in South America after the war, often under assumed names. SS Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Eichmann was one of the primary organizers of the Holocaust, and fled originally to Austria. He forged papers and made a new life for himself in Argentina under the name Ricardo Klement. On this day in 1960, Israeli Mossad agents captured him, and he was put on trial in Israel. His justification for his role was that he was simply following orders, a defense that led to Hannah Arendt coining the term “Banality of evil.” He was sentenced to death by hanging and died June 1, 1962.

1997: Computer beats championship chess player: Russian chess player Garry Kimovich Kasparov was the reigning world chess champion from 1985 to 1993. The youngest chess champion, he was, to say, really good at chess. IBM developed a supercomputer named “Deep Blue,” which first played and won against Kasparov the previous year, but Kasparov won the overall match. IBM upgraded Deep Blue to Deeper Blue, and it won against Kasparov, who suspected there may have been human intervention due to the creativity of its moves. Kasparov, wanting a rematch, did not get his wish as IBM dismantled the system. Deep Blue continues to inspire wonder and fear at the power of technology and artificial intelligence.

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