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Samantha Smith's Questions

This Exhibit Contains 19 Items
1
Wright cartoon on Samantha Smith, 1983

Wright cartoon on Samantha Smith, 1983

Item 25218 info
Maine State Museum

An editorial cartoon in the Miami News in 1983 simply and elegantly expresses what happened when Manchester schoolgirl Samantha Smith opened a discussion about nuclear war and peace: the hope that she could bridge what seemed to be a collision course to war.

Sidestepping the particulars of the 40-year divide of Cold War tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, Smith, 10, wrote to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov, "God made the world for us to live together in peace and not to fight."

Her letter, his reply, and her subsequent visit to the Soviet Union garnered international attention and discussion about whether she was being used for Soviet propaganda and whether ordinary Soviet and American people getting to know one another better could further prospects of peace.

In the cartoon, the missile head on the left reads "U.S." and the one on the right, "U.S.S.R." The caption is "Samantha."


2
Samantha Smith, Manchester, 1983

Samantha Smith, Manchester, 1983

Item 25185 info
Maine State Museum

At the end of 1982, tension was high between the Soviet Union and the United States. Yuri Andropov had just become General Secretary of the Communist Party. American President Ronald Reagan used tough rhetoric.

Samantha Smith, who had seen television programs on nuclear war and devastation, was concerned. She wrote to Andropov, asking bluntly, "Are you going to vote to have a war or not? If you aren't please tell me how you are going to help to not have a war."

She added, "... I would like to know why you want to conquer the world or at least our country."


3
Letter from Yuri Andropov to Samantha Smith, 1983

Letter from Yuri Andropov to Samantha Smith, 1983

Item 25181 info
Maine State Museum

Through a reporter, Samantha heard that a portion of her letter had been printed in the Soviet newspaper Pravda. Andropov suggested she did not understand the situation since she was only 10.

She then wrote to Anatoly Dobrynin, Soviet ambassador to the U.S., to ask if she was going to get a reply from Andropov.

When Andropov did reply in April 1983, he assured her that he and the Soviet people wanted peace.

He also invited her to visit the Soviet Union and see for herself.


4
Dunagin Samantha Smith cartoon, 1983

Dunagin Samantha Smith cartoon, 1983

Item 25219 info
Maine State Museum

Smith's letter and Andropov's reply set off a storm of publicity as well as private responses to Smith.

Ralph Dunagin's cartoon in the Orlando Sentinel show the level of Smith's fame: a little boy, pointing at the television, says, "Hey, there's the guy who got the letter from Samantha Smith!" He was referring to Yuri Andropov.

The publicity increased in news outlets around the world when Samantha and her parents, Jane and Arthur Smith, traveled to the Soviet Union in July 1983.


5
Proclamation honoring Samantha Smith, 1983

Proclamation honoring Samantha Smith, 1983

Item 25184 info
Maine State Museum

After Samantha's letter appeared in Pravda, the Maine State Legislature passed a resolution honoring "Maine's Foreign Diplomat."

It was one of many proclamations from cities and towns and states that recognized the peace-making impact of a young girl.


6
Samantha Smith editorial cartoon, 1983

Samantha Smith editorial cartoon, 1983

Item 25186 info
Maine State Museum

Some commentators, including Steve Benson of the Arizona Republic, satirized Andropov's intentions in inviting Smith to the Soviet Union.

Benson wrote on the cartoon, "To Samantha Smith -- Did you enjoy camp? Best regards -- Steve Benson.

Journalist Nicholas Daniloff, who covered the Soviet Union, wrote that the Soviet leader was using Smith as a publicity gimmick.

Whatever the point of view, the young girl from Manchester was on the front page, the editorial page, and the features pages of numerous publications around the world.


7
Samantha Smith at Artek Camp, Soviet Union, 1983

Samantha Smith at Artek Camp, Soviet Union, 1983

Item 25183 info
Maine State Museum

Smith's visit served to humanize the people of the Cold War enemies to one another.

Samantha spent several days at Artek, an elite summer camp in Crimea on the Black Sea.

The Young Pioneers greeted her with songs, chants, and a traditional welcome of bread and salt.

The girls she met wanted to know as much about America as Samantha did about the Soviet Union. She wrote after the trip, " ... none of them hated America and none of them wanted war."


8
Samantha Smith Artek uniform, 1983

Samantha Smith Artek uniform, 1983

Item 25188 info
Maine State Museum

Samantha Smith, dressed in her Artek uniform, participated in various activities at the camp, including joining with other children in putting wishes for the future in bottles and throwing them into the Black Sea off an Artek boat.

Smith wrote, "I guess that's what I came to find out. I mean, if we could be friends by just getting to know each other better, then what are our countries really arguing about?"


9
Samantha Smith in Yalta, 1983

Samantha Smith in Yalta, 1983

Item 25168 info
Maine State Museum

In his letter, Andropov had told Smith, "Soviet people well know what a terrible thing war is. Forty-two years ago, Nazi Germany which strove for supremacy over the whole world, attacked our country, burned and destroyed many thousands of our towns and villages, killed millions of Soviet men, women and children."

While at Artek, Smith and some fellow campers visited Yalta where Allied leaders Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin met to devise a peace after World War II.


10
Samantha Smith at collective farm, 1983

Samantha Smith at collective farm, 1983

Item 25178 info
Maine State Museum

As with many official and tourist visits, Smith's itinerary was carefully planned to show her the best of the Soviet Union and to support Andropov's political message that he was not the aggressor in the Cold War.

Before leaving the Black Sea area, Samantha and her parents visited a prosperous collective farm.

She wrote, "The state farm was like a small town. Three thousand people live there and work on the farm or go to school."


11
Samantha Smith and Natasha Kashirina, Leningrad, 1983

Samantha Smith and Natasha Kashirina, Leningrad, 1983

Item 25174 info
Maine State Museum

At Artek, Samantha made friends with one of the girls in her dormitory room, Natasha Kashirina.

Smith wrote of her, "She was a little shy but she could speak English very well, mostly because her mother taught English at a school in Leningrad. Natasha is very beautiful and she is excellent at the piano and in ballet."

After leaving Artek, the Smiths went to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and Natasha met them there.

While visiting the Kirov ballet, Smith received a pair of autographed toe shoes from prima ballerina Alla Sizova.


12
Alla Sizova toe shoes, Leningrad, 1983

Alla Sizova toe shoes, Leningrad, 1983

Item 25344 info
Maine State Museum

The autographed ballet shoes were one of hundreds of gifts that Soviet admirers gave Samantha Smith during her two-week trip.

She received a silver tea set from Andropov (who was ill and could not meet with her), dolls, stuffed animals, pennants, pins and buttons, clothing, and numerous other souvenirs representing various cities and towns and organizations.


13
Jane and Samantha Smith, Soviet Union, 1983

Jane and Samantha Smith, Soviet Union, 1983

Item 25180 info
Maine State Museum

The Smiths experienced the culture, the history, the food, and some of the people of the Soviet Union. They were treated to receptions, dinners, music and dance performances and tours of historic sites.

They began their visit in Moscow, went to Crimea, then to Leningrad, and back to Moscow.


14
Samantha Smith, Moscow, 1983

Samantha Smith, Moscow, 1983

Item 25175 info
Maine State Museum

In Moscow at the end of the trip, the Smiths visited the subways, the Krylatskoye Olympic Center, U.S. Ambassador Arthur A. Hartman and his wife, an Exhibition of Economic Achievements and the Moscow Circus, among other venues.

Samantha wrote of this image, "I am standing with one of the Moscow policemen who helped us get around the city in a hurry."


15
Sarafan costume, Moscow, 1983

Sarafan costume, Moscow, 1983

Item 25207 info
Maine State Museum

The Moscow Pioneer children made the kokoshnik, the pearl headdress, of the sarafan (folk dress) they gave Samantha.

She wore the costume when visiting the Central Pioneer Palace in Moscow, a meeting facility for the Young Pioneer groups in the city, and posed in it for the cover of Soviet Life magazine.

Samantha described the Young Pioneers as similar to Boy or Girl Scouts, "except that their activities teach them about communism instead of democracy."


16
Summers cartoon on Samantha Smith, 1983

Summers cartoon on Samantha Smith, 1983

Item 25187 info
Maine State Museum

Before leaving Moscow, Smith held a news conference in which she said goodbye to her new friends in the Soviet Union and said the Russians were just like Americans.

Though Andropov was ill and could not meet with Samantha, he gave her a letter to read, which she did on television. He said the Soviet Union was dedicated to peace.

Dana Summers' editorial cartoon in the Orlando Sentinel references a comment Jimmy Carter made during a debate with Ronald Reagan in 1980. He said asked his 13-year-old daughter, Amy, what the most important issue was and she replied that it was the control of nuclear arms.

The text in the cartoon reads, "I wanted Mr. Andropov to understand that nuclear proliferation is the most important issue . . . at least that's what it says in Amy Carter's notebook that the White House gave me!"

Like Amy Carter, Samantha Smith publicly expressed concerns about the nuclear arms race.

The Cold War had heated up in 1983 with Ronald Reagan's "evil empire" speech, the Soviet shooting down of a Korean Airline passenger jet, and Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars").


17
Letter from Soviet cosmonaut, 1983

Letter from Soviet cosmonaut, 1983

Item 25176 info
Maine State Museum

When she returned from the Soviet Union, Samantha's fame only grew.

In December 1983, she spoke to a Children's International Symposium in Japan. She appeared on television. She interviewed presidential candidates for a Disney Channel show.

Her popularity in the Soviet Union remained also. She received a letter from Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman cosmonaut, with whom she met in Moscow.

Tereshkova wrote, "The Soviet People continue to fight for peace. Today, when the threat of a nuclear catastrophe has increased even more, the efforts of all people of good will are required to defend life on earth."

She reiterated Andropov's contention that the Soviet people and government wanted peace.


18
Samantha Smith, Manchester, 1983

Samantha Smith, Manchester, 1983

Item 25177 info
Maine State Museum

Samantha Smith's popularity spread beyond peace making.

In February 1985, she went to Hollywood to act in television series called Lime Street, which starred Robert Wagner.

While returning from a filming session, Smith and her father, Arthur, were killed in an airplane crash in Auburn. She was 13.


19
Samantha Smith stamp print, 1985

Samantha Smith stamp print, 1985

Item 25182 info
Maine State Museum

Tributes poured in to the peacemaker who had charmed Americans, Soviets, and people worldwide.

Maine erected a statue in her honor near the Maine State Museum in Augusta and declared the first Monday in June Samantha Smith Day.

The Soviets issued a commemorative postage stamp with her image on it, as well as naming a mountain, a diamond, and a flower in her honor. Soviet astronomer L.I. Chernykh named an asteroid for Samantha.

Her legacy is her desire for people to live in peace and understanding with one another.

Sources Samantha Smith, Journey to the Soviet Union

The Samantha Smith Foundation


This Exhibit Contains 19 Items
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