Li Yuqin


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Li Yuqin (15 July 1928 – 24 April 2001), sometimes referred to as the “Last Imperial Concubine”, was the fourth wife of China’s last emperor Puyi. She married Puyi when the latter was the nominal ruler of Manchukuo, a puppet state established by the Empire of Japan during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Biography

Li Yuqin was a Han Chinese by birth and her ancestral home was in Shandong. She was born in a peasant family in Changchun, Jilin.

Li attended Nanling Girls’ Academy in Jilin, then known as Hsinking, the capital of Manchukuo. In February 1943, Li and nine other girl students were taken by their principal Kobayashi and teacher Fujii to a photography studio for portraits. Three weeks later, the school principal and teacher visited Li’s home and told her that Manchukuo’s emperor Puyi had ordered her to go to the palace to study. She was first taken directly to Yasunori Yoshioka, who thoroughly questioned her. Yoshioka then drove her back to her parents and told them Puyi ordered her to study at the palace. Money was promised to the parents. She was subjected to a medical examination and then taken to Puyi’s sister Yunhe and instructed in palace protocol. Li then became a concubine of Puyi and was given the title of Noble Lady Fu .

In 1945 the Manchukuo regime collapsed following the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II. Li attempted to flee from Changchun, alongside Puyi, Empress Wanrong and other remaining members of the old Qing court. Empress Wanrong was experiencing significant opium withdrawal symptoms at that time. She, as well as the rest of Puyi’s family was evacuated with him by train from Changchun to Dalizigou. From there, however, Puyi continued by plane with only two of his sisters, his brothers, three nephews, his physician and a servant to Mukden, where he was arrested and taken to the Soviet Union. According to Puyi, Li Yuqin was very frightened and begged to be taken with him, when he left from Dalizigou to Mukden, but he assured her that she and Wanrong could reach Japan as well by train.

They were shortly arrested by Soviet forces and sent to a prison in Changchun. Li was released in 1946 and sent back home. She worked in a textile factory and in a library in Changchun, studying the works of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. In 1955 she began visiting Puyi in prison. After applying to the Chinese authorities for a divorce, the government responded on her next prison visit by showing her to a room with a double bed and ordered her to reconcile with Puyi, and she said the couple obeyed the order.

Li officially divorced Puyi in 1958. She later married a technician named Huang Yugeng, with whom she had two sons. During the Cultural Revolution Li became a target for attack by the Red Guards because she used to be Puyi’s concubine. She died in 2001 at the age of 73 in Changchun after a six-year battle with cirrhosis.

Katherine Kennicott Davis


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Katherine Kennicott Davis (June 25, 1892 – April 20, 1980) was a composer, pianist, and author of the famous Christmas tune “The Little Drummer Boy”.

Life and career

Davis was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, on June 25, 1892, the daughter of Jessie Foote (Barton) and Maxwell Gaddis Davis. Her father was descended from John and Mariah Jane Boylan Murphey, one of the early pioneer settlers of Morgan County, Ohio and a foreman during the construction of the National Road — also known as the Cumberland National Road, as it pushed westward from Cumberland, Maryland through Ohio and on to Vandalia, Illinois. She composed her first piece of music, “Shadow March,” at the age of 15. She graduated from St. Joseph High School in 1910, and studied music at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. In 1914 she won the Billings Prize. After graduation she continued at Wellesley as an assistant in the Music Department, teaching music theory and piano. At the same time she studied at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Davis also studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. She taught music at the Concord Academy in Concord, Massachusetts, and at the Shady Hill School for Girls in Philadelphia.

She became a member of ASCAP in 1941. and was granted an honorary doctorate from Stetson University, in DeLand, Florida. Katherine K. Davis continued writing music until she became ill in the winter of 1979-1980. She died on April 20, 1980, at the age of 87, in Littleton, Massachusetts.[3] She left all of the royalties and proceeds from her compositions, which include operas, choruses, children’s operettas, cantatas, piano and organ pieces, and songs, to Wellesley College’s Music Department. These funds are used to support musical instrument instruction.

Music

Many of her over 600 compositions were written for the choirs at her school. She was actively involved in The Concord Series, multiple-volume set of music and books for educational purposes. Many of the musical volumes were compiled, arranged, and edited by Davis with Archibald T. Davison, and they were published by E.C. Schirmer in Boston.

She wrote “The Little Drummer Boy” (originally titled “The Carol of the Drum”), in 1941. It became famous when recorded by the Harry Simeone Chorale in 1958: the recording sailed to the top of the Billboard charts and Simeone insisted on a writer’s royalty for his arrangement of the song. Another famous hymn by Katherine Davis is the Thanksgiving hymn “Let All Things Now Living” which uses the melody of the traditional Welsh folk song The Ash Grove.

Christine Jorgensen


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Christine Jorgensen (May 30, 1926 – May 3, 1989) was an American trans woman who was the first person to become widely known in the United States for having sex reassignment surgery. Jorgensen grew up in the Bronx, New York City. Shortly after graduating high school in 1945, she was drafted into the US Army for World War II. After her service she attended several schools, worked, and around this time heard about transitioning surgery. She travelled to Europe, and in Copenhagen, Denmark, obtained special permission to undergo a series of operations starting in 1951.

She returned to the United States in the early 1950s and her transformation was the subject of a New York Daily News front page story. She became an instant celebrity, using the platform to advocate for transgender people, and became known for her directness and polished wit. She also worked as an actress and nightclub entertainer, and recorded several songs.

Early life

Christine Jorgensen was born George William Jorgensen, Jr., the second child of the carpenter and contractor George William Jorgensen Sr. and his wife, Florence Davis Hansen. She grew up in a crime-ridden area of the Bronx, New York City and described herself as having been a “frail, blond, introverted little boy who ran from fistfights and rough-and-tumble games”.

Jorgensen graduated from Christopher Columbus High School in 1945 and shortly afterwards was drafted into the US Army.

After being discharged from the army, Jorgensen attended Mohawk College in Utica, New York, the Progressive School of Photography in New Haven, Connecticut, and the Manhattan Medical and Dental Assistant School in New York City. She also worked briefly for Pathé News.

Sex reassignment surgery

Returning to New York after military service and increasingly concerned over (as one obituary later called it) a “lack of male physical development”, Jorgensen heard about sex reassignment surgery. She began taking the female hormone ethinyl estradiol and researching the surgery with the help of Dr. Joseph Angelo, the husband of a classmate at the Manhattan Medical and Dental Assistant School. Jorgensen intended to go to Sweden, where the only doctors in the world who performed the surgery were located. During a stopover in Copenhagen to visit relatives, she met Dr. Christian Hamburger, a Danish endocrinologist and specialist in rehabilitative hormonal therapy. Jorgensen then stayed in Denmark and took hormone replacement therapy under Dr. Hamburger’s direction. She obtained special permission from the Danish Minister of Justice to undergo a series of operations in that country.

On September 24, 1951, surgeons at Gentofte Hospital in Copenhagen performed an orchiectomy on Jorgensen. She referred to how the surgery affected her in a letter to friends on October 8, 1951:

“As you can see by the enclosed photos, taken just before the operation, I have changed a great deal. But it is the other changes that are so much more important. Remember the shy, miserable person who left America? Well, that person is no more and, as you can see, I’m in marvelous spirits.”

In November 1952, thirteen months after her first procedure, doctors at Copenhagen University Hospital performed a penectomy. In Jorgensen’s words, “My second operation, as the previous one, was not such a major work of surgery as it may imply.”

She then returned to the United States and eventually obtained a vaginoplasty when the procedure became available there. The vaginoplasty was performed under the direction of Dr. Angelo, with Harry Benjamin as a medical advisor.

Jorgensen chose the name Christine in honor of Dr. Hamburger. She became a spokesperson for transsexual and transgender people.

As a transgender spokesperson, Jorgensen entered the public eye. She influenced other transsexuals to change their sex on birth certificates and to change their names. Christine Jorgensen’s case is significant because for the first time, it led to complications over sex and science and the changing definition of sexuality. Gender was thought of as a set binary (where one could only be male or female) that was permanent, but Jorgensen questioned that stability. This case is an example of something that undid gender binaries that were thought to be permanent. Gender was not the set binary as people once thought of it, and doctors were redefining gender with the term “psychological sex”. This new “psychological sex” showed that psychologically, one might not relate to your biological sex. Jorgenson was an example of this; her sexuality was not a result of her biological sex. The question of what determined sex emerged, and the spectrum of sexuality identity included: chromosomes, genitalia, and body actions. This spectrum was not clear and people did not know whether chromosomes, genitalia, or body actions determined someone’s sex. Due to Jorgensen’s surgery, her definition of sexuality changed, and this led the public challenged to think about the definition of biological sex. The topic was overall complicated, as doctors tried to define and reclassify sexuality, but it did not come easily. For example, doctors tried to distinguish transexuality from transvestism and homosexuality, but at the same time also tried to decontextualize them to make it simpler for people to understand. Traditional gender norms were questioned, and Jorgensen reinforced what it meant to be a woman despite her original sexuality. She took on the notions of femininity. She saw herself as a founding member in what became known as the “sexual revolution.”

Publicity

When the New York Daily News, December 1, 1952, carried a front-page story (under the headline “Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Bombshell”) announcing that Jorgensen had become the recipient of the first “sex change”, it caused a sensation. However, the claim that this was the first was not true, as this type of surgery had previously been performed by pioneering German doctors in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Danish artist Lili Elbe and “Dorchen”, both patients of Magnus Hirschfeld at the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (Institute for Sexual Research) in Berlin, were known recipients of such operations in 1930-31. What was different in Jorgensen’s case was the added prescription of female hormones.

Jorgensen was an instant celebrity when she returned to New York on February 13, 1953. The first authorized account of her story was written by Jorgenson herself in a February 1953 issue of The American Weekly, titled “The Story of My Life.” The publicity created a platform for her, and she used it to advocate for transgender people. New York radio host Barry Gray asked her if jokes such as “Christine Jorgensen went abroad, and came back a broad” bothered her. She laughed and said that they did not bother her at all. However, another encounter demonstrated that Jorgensen could be offended by some questions. When she appeared on an episode of The Dick Cavett Show, the host asked an inappropriate and misguided question about the status of her romantic life with her “wife”, Jorgensen walked off the show’s set. As she was the only scheduled guest, Cavett spent the rest of that show stating that he had not meant to offend her.

Later life

After her vaginoplasty, Jorgensen planned to marry John Traub, a labor union statistician, but the engagement was called off. In 1959, she announced her engagement to Howard J. Knox, a typist, in Massapequa, New York, where her father had built her a house after her reassignment surgery. However, the couple was unable to obtain a marriage license because Jorgensen’s birth certificate listed her as male. In a report about the broken engagement, The New York Times noted that Knox had lost his job in Washington, D.C., when his engagement to Jorgensen became known.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Jorgensen toured university campuses and other venues to speak about her experiences. She was known for her directness and polished wit. She once demanded an apology from Spiro T. Agnew, the U.S. vice president, when he called another politician “the Christine Jorgensen of the Republican Party” (Agnew refused her request).

Jorgensen also worked as an actress and nightclub entertainer, and recorded several songs. In summer stock, she played Madame Rosepettle in the play Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad. In her nightclub act, she sang several songs, including “I Enjoy Being a Girl”, and at the end made a quick change into a Wonder Woman costume. She later recalled that Warner Communications, owners of the Wonder Woman character’s copyright, demanded that she stop using the character; she did so and instead used a new character of her own invention, “Superwoman”, who was marked by the inclusion of a large letter S on her cape. Jorgensen continued her act, performing at Freddy’s Supper Club on the upper east side of Manhattan until at least 1982, when she performed twice in the Hollywood area: once at the Backlot Theatre, adjacent to the discothèque Studio One, and later at The Frog Pond restaurant. This performance was recorded and has been made available as an album on iTunes. In 1984, Jorgensen returned to Copenhagen to perform her show and was featured in Teit Ritzau’s Danish transsexual documentary film Paradiset er ikke til salg (Paradise Is Not for Sale).

Jorgensen said in 1989, the year of her death, that she had given the sexual revolution “a good swift kick in the pants”. She died of bladder and lung cancer four weeks short of her 63rd birthday.

Fanny Mills


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Born in 1860, Fanny Mills was the daughter of English immigrants who settled near Sandusky, Ohio. She had a condition called Milroy disease, which restricts development of the lymph vessels in the legs and causes fluid build-up. Fanny was a petite woman who weighed but 115 pounds, yet she wore size 30 shoes, each pair made from three goat skins, with pillowcases as socks. Each foot was said to be 19 inches long and 7 inches wide, although photos clearly show that they were not the same size. Her exhibition career began in 1885, when she entered the museum circuit, accompanied by a nurse, Mary Brown. Brown helped Fanny move from place to place, as her large feet made walking very difficult. Fanny’s promoters offered $5000 and a “well-stocked farm” to anyone willing to marry the big-footed girl. Eventually she did marry, to William Brown, the brother of her assistant. When she came down with an unknown illness in 1892, she retired from showbusiness, returning to her family’s farm with her husband. She died the same year.

Milroy disease (or Nonne-Milroy disease) was first described in 1891 and causes many anomalies aside from lymphedema, including spinal cysts, yellow nails, double eyelashes and hearing loss. It is most common in women (70-80% of patients are female) and is an autosomal dominant trait.

Ella Harper


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Most sources indicate that Ella Harper was born in Hendersonville, Tennessee around 1870 – although there are some conflicting reports. What is not argued, however, is the fact that Ella was born with an unusual orthopedic condition resulting in knees that bent backwards. The nature of this unusual affliction is exceedingly rare and relatively unknown, however most modern medical types would classify her condition and a very advanced form of congenital genu recurvatum – also known as ‘back knee deformity’. Her unusually bent knees, coupled with her preference of walking on all fours resulted in her moniker of ‘The Camel Girl’.

In 1886, Ella was the star of W. H. Harris’s Nickel Plate Circus, often appearing accompanied by a camel when presented to audiences and she was a feature in the newspapers of every town the circus visited. Those newspapers touted Ella as ‘the most wonderful freak of nature since the creation of the world’ and that her ‘counterpart never did exist’.

The back of Ella’s 1886 pitch card is far more modest in its information:

I am called the camel girl because my knees turn backward. I can walk best on my hands and feet as you see me in the picture. I have traveled considerably in the show business for the past four years and now, this is 1886 and I intend to quit the show business and go to school and fit myself for another occupation.

It appears that Ella did indeed move on to other ventures and her $200 a week salary likely opened many doors for her. After 1886, no further references to Ella ‘The Camel Girl’ can be found. An Ella Haper from the same county does appear on a in 1905 and a death certificate dated 1921 for that same Ella exists but it is currently unclear if this Ella is indeed the same Camel Girl of sideshow fame.

Records exist indicating that someone named Ella Harper married Robert L. Savely in 1905 in Sumner County, Tennessee and died in 1921 of colon cancer, but it is unclear whether these records refer to the circus performer.

Samantha Reed Smith


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Samantha Reed Smith (June 29, 1972 – August 25, 1985) was an American schoolgirl, peace activist and child actress from Manchester, Maine, who became famous in the Cold War era United States and Soviet Union. In 1982, Smith wrote a letter to the newly appointed CPSU General Secretary Yuri Andropov, and received a personal reply which included a personal invitation to visit the Soviet Union, which she accepted.

Smith attracted extensive media attention in both countries as a “Goodwill Ambassador”, and became known as “America’s Youngest Ambassador” participating in peacemaking activities in Japan. She wrote a book about her visit to the Soviet Union and co-starred in the television series Lime Street, before her death at the age of 13 in the Bar Harbor Airlines Flight 1808 plane crash.

Historical context

When Yuri Andropov succeeded Leonid Brezhnev as leader of the Soviet Union in November 1982, the mainstream Western newspapers and magazines ran numerous front-page photographs and articles about him. Most coverage was negative and tended to a perception of a new threat to the stability of the Western world. Andropov had been the Soviet Ambassador to Hungary during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the Chairman of the KGB from 1967 to 1982; during his tenure, he was known in the West for crushing the Prague Spring and the brutal suppression of dissidents, such as Andrei Sakharov and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. He began his tenure as Soviet leader by strengthening the powers of the KGB, and by suppressing dissidents. Andropov declared, “the struggle for human rights was a part of a wide-ranging imperialist plot to undermine the foundation of the Soviet state.” Much international tension surrounded both Soviet and American efforts to develop weapons capable of being launched from satellites in orbit. Both governments had extensive research and development programs to develop such technology. However, both nations were coming under increasing pressure to disband the project. In America, president Ronald Reagan came under pressure from a lobby of U.S. scientists and arms experts, while in Russia the government issued a statement that read, “To prevent the militarization of space is one of the most urgent tasks facing mankind”.

During this period, large anti-nuclear protests were taking place across Europe and North America, while the November 20, 1983, screening of ABC’s post-nuclear war dramatization The Day After became one of the most anticipated media events of the decade.

The two superpowers had by this point abandoned their strategy of détente and in response to the Soviet deployment of SS-20s, Reagan moved to deploy cruise and Pershing II missiles to Europe. The Soviet Union’s involvement in a war in Afghanistan was in its third year, a matter which was also contributing to international tension. In this atmosphere, on November 22, 1982, Time magazine published an issue with Andropov on the cover. When Smith viewed the edition, she asked her mother, “If people are so afraid of him, why doesn’t someone write a letter asking whether he wants to have a war or not?”. Her mother replied, “Why don’t you?”

Life

Smith was born on June 29, 1972, in the small town of Houlton, Maine, on the Canada–United States border, to Jane Reed and Arthur Smith. At the age of five, she wrote a letter to Queen Elizabeth II in order to express her admiration to the monarch. When Smith had finished second grade in the spring of 1980, the family settled in Manchester, Maine, where she attended Manchester Elementary School. Her father taught literature and writing at the University of Maine at Augusta while her mother worked as a social worker with the Maine Department of Human Services.

In November 1982, when Smith was 10 years old, she wrote to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov, seeking to understand why the relations between the Soviet Union and the United States were so tense:

Dear Mr. Andropov,

My name is Samantha Smith. I am ten years old. Congratulations on your new job. I have been worrying about Russia and the United States getting into a nuclear war. 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. This question you do not have to answer, but I would like to know why you want to conquer the world or at least our country. God made the world for us to live together in peace and not to fight.

Sincerely,

Samantha Smith

Her letter was published in the Soviet newspaper Pravda. Samantha was happy to discover that her letter had been published; however, she had not received a reply. She then sent a letter to the Soviet Union’s Ambassador to the United States asking if Mr. Andropov intended to respond. On April 26, 1983, she received a response from Andropov:

Dear Samantha,

I received your letter, which is like many others that have reached me recently from your country and from other countries around the world.

It seems to me – I can tell by your letter – that you are a courageous and honest girl, resembling Becky, the friend of Tom Sawyer in the famous book of your compatriot Mark Twain. This book is well known and loved in our country by all boys and girls.

You write that you are anxious about whether there will be a nuclear war between our two countries. And you ask are we doing anything so that war will not break out.

Your question is the most important of those that every thinking man can pose. I will reply to you seriously and honestly.

Yes, Samantha, we in the Soviet Union are trying to do everything so that there will not be war on Earth. This is what every Soviet man wants. This is what the great founder of our state, Vladimir Lenin, taught us.

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.

In that war, which ended with our victory, we were in alliance with the United States: together we fought for the liberation of many people from the Nazi invaders. I hope that you know about this from your history lessons in school. And today we want very much to live in peace, to trade and cooperate with all our neighbors on this earth—with those far away and those near by. And certainly with such a great country as the United States of America.

In America and in our country there are nuclear weapons—terrible weapons that can kill millions of people in an instant. But we do not want them to be ever used. That’s precisely why the Soviet Union solemnly declared throughout the entire world that never—never—will it use nuclear weapons first against any country. In general we propose to discontinue further production of them and to proceed to the abolition of all the stockpiles on Earth.

It seems to me that this is a sufficient answer to your second question: ‘Why do you want to wage war against the whole world or at least the United States?’ We want nothing of the kind. No one in our country–neither workers, peasants, writers nor doctors, neither grown-ups nor children, nor members of the government–want either a big or ‘little’ war.

We want peace—there is something that we are occupied with: growing wheat, building and inventing, writing books and flying into space. We want peace for ourselves and for all peoples of the planet. For our children and for you, Samantha.

I invite you, if your parents will let you, to come to our country, the best time being this summer. You will find out about our country, meet with your contemporaries, visit an international children’s camp – Artek – on the sea. And see for yourself: in the Soviet Union, everyone is for peace and friendship among peoples.

Thank you for your letter. I wish you all the best in your young life.

  1. Andropov

A media circus ensued, with Smith being interviewed by Ted Koppel and Johnny Carson, among others, and with nightly reports by the major American networks. On July 7, 1983, she flew to Moscow with her parents, and spent two weeks as Andropov’s guest. During the trip she visited Moscow and Leningrad and spent time in Artek, the main Soviet pioneer camp, in the town of Gurzuf on the Crimean Peninsula. Smith wrote in her book that in Leningrad she and her parents were amazed by the friendliness of the people and by the presents many people made for them. Speaking at a Moscow press conference, she declared that the Russians were “just like us”. In Artek, Smith chose to stay with the Soviet children rather than accept the privileged accommodations offered to her. For ease of communication, teachers and children who spoke fluent English were chosen to stay in the building where she was lodged. Smith shared a dormitory with nine other girls, and spent her time there swimming, talking and learning Russian songs and dances. While there, she made many friends, including Natasha Kashirina from Leningrad, a fluent English speaker.

Andropov, however, was unable to meet with her during her visit, although they did speak by telephone. It was later discovered that Andropov had become seriously ill and had withdrawn from the public eye during this time. Smith also received a phone call from Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to orbit the Earth. However, not realizing with whom she was speaking, Samantha mistakenly hung up after only a brief conversation. Media followed her every step—photographs and articles about her were published by the main Soviet newspapers and magazines throughout her trip and after it. Smith became widely known to Soviet citizens and was well regarded by many of them. In the United States, the event drew suspicion and some regarded it as an “American-style public relations stunt”.

Smith’s return to the U.S. on July 22, 1983, was celebrated by the people of Maine with roses, a red carpet, and a limousine and her popularity continued to grow in her native country. Some critics at the time remained skeptical, believing Smith was unwittingly serving as an instrument of Soviet propaganda. In December 1983, continuing in her role as “America’s Youngest Ambassador”, she was invited to Japan, where she met with the Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and attended the Children’s International Symposium in Kobe. In her speech at the symposium, she suggested that Soviet and American leaders exchange granddaughters for two weeks every year, arguing that a president “wouldn’t want to send a bomb to a country his granddaughter would be visiting”. Her trip inspired other exchanges of child goodwill ambassadors, including a visit by the eleven-year-old Soviet child Katya Lycheva to the United States. Later, Smith wrote a book called Journey to the Soviet Union whose cover shows her at Artek, her favorite part of the Soviet trip.

Smith pursued her role as a media celebrity when in 1984, she hosted a children’s special for the Disney Channel entitled Samantha Smith Goes To Washington…Campaign ’84. The show covered politics, where Smith interviewed several candidates for the 1984 presidential election, including George McGovern and Jesse Jackson. That same year she guest starred in Charles in Charge as Kim, alongside another celebrity guest star, Julianne McNamara. Her fame resulted in Smith becoming the subject of stalker Robert John Bardo, the man who would later go on to stalk and ultimately murder My Sister Sam actress Rebecca Schaeffer. Bardo traveled to Maine in an attempt to meet Smith, but was stopped by police and returned home.

In 1985 she co-starred with Robert Wagner in a television series called Lime Street.

Death

On August 25, 1985, Smith and her father were returning home aboard Bar Harbor Airlines Flight 1808 after filming a segment for Lime Street. While attempting to land at Lewiston-Auburn Regional Airport in Auburn, Maine, the Beechcraft 99 commuter plane struck some trees 4,007 feet (1,221 m) short of the runway and crashed, killing all six passengers and two crew on board. Much speculation regarding the cause of the accident circulated afterwards. Accusations of foul play circulated widely in the Soviet Union. An investigation was undertaken in the United States and the official report—which did not show evidence of foul play—was made public. As stated in the report, the accident occurred at about 22:05 EDT, the ground impact point located one mile (1.6 km) south-west of the airport, at 44°02′22″N 70°17′30″W. The report goes on to say, “The relatively steep flight path angle and the attitude (the orientation of the aircraft relative to the horizon, direction of motion etc.) and speed of the airplane at ground impact precluded the occupants from surviving the accident.” The main point of the report was that it was a rainy night, the pilots were inexperienced, and an accidental, but not uncommon and not usually critical, ground radar failure occurred.

Samantha Smith was mourned by about 1,000 people at her funeral in Augusta, Maine, and was eulogized in Moscow as a champion of peace. Attendees included Robert Wagner and Vladimir Kulagin of the Soviet Embassy in Washington, who read a personal message of condolence from Mikhail Gorbachev.

“Everyone in the Soviet Union who has known Samantha Smith will forever remember the image of the American girl who, like millions of Soviet young men and women, dreamt about peace, and about friendship between the peoples of the United States and the Soviet Union”.

President Ronald Reagan sent his condolences to Smith’s mother, in writing,

“Perhaps you can take some measure of comfort in the knowledge that millions of Americans, indeed millions of people, share the burdens of your grief. They also will cherish and remember Samantha, her smile, her idealism and unaffected sweetness of spirit.”

The remains of Smith and her father were cremated, and buried side by side in Estabrook Cemetery, Aroostook County, near Houlton where Smith was born.

Legacy

Smith’s contributions have been honored with a number of tributes by Russians and by the people of her home state of Maine. A monument to her was built in Moscow; “Samantha Smith Alley” in the Artek Young Pioneer camp was named after her in 1986. The monument built to Smith was stolen by metal thieves in 2003 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. In 2003, Voronezh retiree Valentin Vaulin built a monument to her without any support from the government. The Soviet Union issued a commemorative stamp with her likeness. In 1986, when Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Chernykh discovered asteroid 3147, she named it 3147 Samantha. The Danish composer Per Nørgård wrote his 1985 viola concerto “Remembering Child” in memory of Smith. A diamond found in Siberia, a mountain in the former Soviet Union, a cultivar of tulips and of dahlias, and an ocean vessel have been named in Smith’s honor. In Maine, the first Monday in June of each year is officially designated as Samantha Smith Day by state law. There is a bronze statue of Smith near the Maine State Museum in Augusta, which portrays Smith releasing a dove with a bear cub resting at her feet. The bear cub represents both Maine and Russia. Elementary schools in Sammamish, Washington, and in Jamaica, Queens, New York City, have been named after Samantha. In October 1985, Smith’s mother founded the Samantha Smith Foundation, which fostered student exchanges between the United States and the Soviet Union (and, after December 1991, the ex-Soviet successor states) until it became dormant in the mid-1990s.

A 1987 episode of the U.S. sitcom The Golden Girls entitled “Letter to Gorbachev” draws inspiration from the story of Samantha Smith.

In the mid-1980s, after Smith’s death, a script was written for a television movie titled The Samantha Smith Story with Robert Wagner as producer. However, Columbia Pictures Television decided not to film it due to lack of interest from any network.

In 2008, Smith posthumously received the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award for helping to bring about better understanding between the peoples of the United States of America (USA) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and as a result, reduce the tension between the superpowers that were poised to engage in nuclear war.

Elliott Holt’s 2013 novel You Are One of Them, uses the story of Samantha Smith as inspiration for a fictional character, Jennifer Jones. The book, characterized as literary fiction, was well received by critics for both literary style and page-turning intrigue.

Charlotte Dupuy


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Charlotte Dupuy, also called Lottie (born ca. 1787-1790 – d. after 1866), was an enslaved African-American woman who filed a freedom suit in 1829 against her master, Henry Clay, then Secretary of State. This case went to court seventeen years before Dred Scott filed his more famous legal challenge to slavery. Then living in Washington, DC, Dupuy sued for her freedom and that of her two children, based on a promise by her previous owner. This was an example of the many freedom suits filed by slaves in the decades before the Civil War.

Although the Circuit Court’s ruling in 1830 went against Dupuy, she had worked for wages for 18 months and lived in the household of Martin Van Buren, the succeeding Secretary of State, while it was decided. Clay had returned to his home in Kentucky in 1829. After the ruling, Clay had Dupuy transported to the home of his daughter and son-in-law in New Orleans, and she remained enslaved for another decade. Finally in 1840, Henry Clay freed Dupuy and her daughter Mary Ann. Four years later he freed her son Charles Dupuy. By 1860 her husband Aaron Dupuy was listed on the census as a free man living with her at Ashland.

Early life

Charlotte Dupuy was born into slavery in Cambridge, Maryland. She was brought to Kentucky in 1805 by the tailor James Condon, who had purchased her as a child from Daniel Parker in Cambridge. She was said to have been born about 1787. About 1806 she met and married Aaron Dupuy, a young man held by Henry Clay on his Ashland plantation in Lexington, Kentucky. Condon sold Charlotte to Henry Clay in May 1806, perhaps to allow the young couple to live together. Charlotte and Aaron had two children, Charles and Mary Ann Dupuy.

When Clay went to Washington, D.C., for his congressional term beginning in 1810, Charlotte, her husband Aaron and two children accompanied him or arrived to work for him soon after. They lived with Clay and served in the house he rented, originally built for Stephen Decatur. Located at Lafayette Square across from the White House, today the Decatur House is a museum and a designated National Historic Landmark.

Petition for freedom

Charlotte Dupuy and her family enjoyed the relative freedom of living in Washington, DC, where they met other slaves and joined some of the activities of the city. Clay allowed her to visit her mother and family on the Eastern Shore a couple of times. Following his Congressional career, Henry Clay served as Secretary of State from 1825-1829.

As Clay began making preparations in 1829 to leave the capital when his service ended, Dupuy filed a petition for her freedom and that of her children. She based this on her mother’s being free and her previous owner Condon’s promise to free her and her children. Clay thought his political enemies had persuaded her to do it but decided to fight it, as he was embarrassed by the publicity.

On February 13, 1829, her attorney Robert Beale wrote a petition on her behalf to the judges of the District of Columbia. The petition asked the courts to use their power to keep Clay from removing Charlotte Dupuy from the District of Columbia while her lawsuit for freedom was underway. The Court granted this petition.

Beale argued that Dupuy and her children were “entitled to their freedom” based on a promise by her previous master James Condon, but were “now held in a state of slavery by one Henry Clay (Secty of State) contrary to the law and your petitioners just rights.” Clay wanted to remove the Dupuys from their DC residence and return them to Kentucky. There, Beale argued, they would “be held as slaves for life.” While the Court allowed Charlotte Dupuy to stay in Washington while the case was heard, it permitted Clay to take her husband Aaron and children Mary Ann and Charles back to Kentucky.

Case

Charlotte Dupuy’s petition to stay in the District temporarily was granted, but her writ for freedom was denied. Clay’s attorney showed that her mother had been freed after Charlotte was born, which did not affect her status as a slave. Her case was taken seriously for, according to a letter by Henry Clay, Dupuy stayed in DC “upwards of 18 months” after he left for Kentucky, awaiting the results of the trial. During these 18 months, Clay described her as acting as “her own mistress”. Dupuy worked for wages for the succeeding Secretary of State, Martin Van Buren, who also lived at Decatur House. The letter shows that Dupuy never willingly left DC. On the first page, Clay mused, “How shall I now get her …?” He approved of his agent’s having Dupuy arrested when she refused to return to Kentucky.

Although Dupuy was fighting for her freedom, the courts, in order to hear her case, had to assume her status as a free negro or a free person of color, since enslaved people had no legal standing in the courts. Such actions began to create political space for slaves’ freedom. The Court determined that the agreement between Dupuy and Condon was not applicable to any new ownership, and rejected her claim against Clay.

Aftermath

Clay’s agent arranged for Dupuy to be held in prison in Alexandria, which was part of the District of Columbia at the time, while he decided what to do. Clay had Dupuy removed from Washington and transported to New Orleans, to the home of his daughter and son-in-law Martin Duralde. She was enslaved there for another decade.

Finally on 12 October 1840, Henry Clay freed Charlotte Dupuy and her daughter Mary Ann in New Orleans. He retained her son Charles Dupuy, who traveled with him to speaking engagements. Clay frequently used him as an example of how well he treated slaves. He eventually freed Charles in 1844.

Either Clay before his death in 1852 or by his will, or his descendants freed Charlotte’s husband Aaron Dupuy, or “gave him his time”. The couple reunited to live again in Kentucky, where Aaron worked for John M. Clay at Ashland after his father’s death. While no deed of emancipation was found for Aaron Dupuy, according to the 1860 census, he and Charlotte Dupuy were listed as living together as free persons in Fayette County, Kentucky. An obituary of Aaron Dupuy said he died February 6, 1866 and was survived by his widow, although she was not listed by name.