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Samantha Smith: Young Peace Ambassador

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• Part 2: Fame and Poor Fortune

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Samantha's Letter to Yuri Andropov and His Letter Back

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America's Youngest Cold War Ambassador
All about Samantha Smith

Part 1: Small Person, Big Influence
The words of a 10-year-old can be very persuasive indeed. This was proved in the 1980s by a girl named Samantha Smith, whose letter to the Premier of the Soviet Union became an international sensation – not the least because her letter received a response.

Samantha, like many children at that time, was worried about the continued hostilities between the United States and its allies and the Soviet Union and its allies. The two superpowers had been political enemies for many decades by this time, and the Cold War was still going on. Encouraged by her mother, Samantha in late 1982 wrote a letter to Yuri Andropov, who was then the newly appointed head of the Soviet Government. The letter asked Andropov whether the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were going to begin a nuclear war. (Both countries had significant stockpiles of nuclear weapons by this time, and talks between representatives of the two countries on the subject of reducing the numbers of those nuclear weapons had had varying degrees of success.)

Andropov and the Soviet Government surely had more important things to do than to read (let alone answer) this letter, which amazingly was delivered to its intended recipient. Yet answer it Andropov did, in April 1983, promising her that his country didn't any kind of war with the U.S., especially a nuclear war. Further, he invited Samantha to visit the Soviet Union.

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