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April 25, 2009

This Day in History: Andropov writes to U.S. student

Filed under: Entertainment — hypeplug @ 3:46 pm

April 25: General Interest
1983 : Andropov writes to U.S. student

On this day in 1983, the Soviet Union releases a letter that Russian leader Yuri Andropov wrote to Samantha Smith, an American fifth-grader from Manchester, Maine, inviting her to visit his country. Andropov’s letter came in response to a note Smith had sent him in December 1982, asking if the Soviets were planning to start a nuclear war. At the time, the United States and Soviet Union were Cold War enemies. President Ronald Reagan, a passionate anti-communist, had dubbed the Soviet Union the “evil empire” and called for massive increases in U.S. defense spending to meet the perceived Soviet threat.

Welcome to the THIS DAY IN HISTORY newsletter from History.com

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April 25: General Interest
1983 : Andropov writes to U.S. student

On this day in 1983, the Soviet Union releases a letter that Russian leader Yuri Andropov wrote to Samantha Smith, an American fifth-grader from Manchester, Maine, inviting her to visit his country. Andropov’s letter came in response to a note Smith had sent him in December 1982, asking if the Soviets were planning to start a nuclear war. At the time, the United States and Soviet Union were Cold War enemies. President Ronald Reagan, a passionate anti-communist, had dubbed the Soviet Union the “evil empire” and called for massive increases in U.S. defense spending to meet the perceived Soviet threat.

In his public relations duel with Reagan, known as the “Great Communicator,” Andropov, who had succeeded longtime Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in 1982, assumed a folksy, almost grandfatherly approach that was incongruous with the negative image most Americans had of the Soviets. Andropov’s letter said that Russian people wanted to “live in peace, to trade and cooperate with all our neighbors on the globe, no matter how close or far away they are, and, certainly, with such a great country as the United States of America.” In response to Smith’s question about whether the Soviet Union wished to prevent nuclear war, Andropov declared, “Yes, Samantha, we in the Soviet Union are endeavoring and doing everything so that there will be no war between our two countries, so that there will be no war at all on earth.” Andropov also complimented Smith, comparing her to the spunky character Becky Thatcher from “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain.

Smith, born June 29, 1972, accepted Andropov’s invitation and flew to the Soviet Union with her parents for a visit. Afterward, she became an international celebrity and peace ambassador, making speeches, writing a book and even landing a role on an American television series.

In February 1984, Yuri Andropov died from kidney failure and was succeeded by Konstantin Chernenko. The following year, in August 1985, Samantha Smith died tragically in a plane crash at age 13.

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General Interest
1983 : Andropov writes to U.S. student
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihVideoCategory&id=52441
1859 : Ground broken for Suez Canal
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=6878
1990 : Space telescope in orbit
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=4949

American Revolution
1781 : Cornwallis retreats from Guilford Courthouse
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id= 474

Automotive
1901 : New York requires tags
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=7394
1925 : Maserati enters first race
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=7395
1959 : Mario Andretti debuts
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=7393

Civil War
1862 : Fall of New Orleans
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=2186
1864 : Battle of Mark’s Mills, Arkansas
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=2185

Cold War
1983 : Andropov writes to an American fifth-grader
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=2648

Crime
1989 : A father is exonerated after 21 years
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=983

Disaster
1980 : Air tragedy hits Canary Islands
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=414

Entertainment
1988 : Rights sold for sequel to Gone with the Wind
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=3210
1990 : Dexter Gordon dies
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=3211
1995 : Ginger Rogers dies
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=3209

Literary
1719 : Robinson Crusoe is published
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=3950

Old West
1831 : A play lionizing Davy Crockett opens
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=4500

Presidential
1947 : Truman inaugurates White House bowling alley
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=506

Sports
1964 : Maple Leafs win third Stanley Cup in a row
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=57545

Vietnam War
1964 : Johnson announces appointment of Westmoreland
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1805
1972 : North Vietnamese Army close to cutting South Vietnam in two
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1806

World War I
1915 : Allies begin invasion of Gallipoli
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=443

World War II
1945 : Americans and Russians link up, cut Germany in two
http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=6433

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