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.
Having received a reply in April of 1983, she and her parents visited the Soviet Union in July. Though they did not see the president, the whole world watched as she visited, becoming America's "youngest ambassador."
After the bombs fell
Just over two months after returning from Moscow, though, it seemed that Andopov had lied. On September 25, 1983, she was finishing her homework when the announcement came over the radio. "Russia" had launched a full nuclear attack against the United States. As the family was taking shelter in the basement, her father, Arthur Smith, had assured her that the USA would never have launched a first strike. The USSR, then, must indeed be as evil as President Reagan had said it was.
Soon after being secured underground, though, the ground was shaking and a roar was heard coming up from the South. Portland and Bath had been hit, but the capital city of Augusta (less than four miles away) had been spared. However, shock waves and a blast of deadly hot air swept through Manchester. Many wooden houses were on fire, and some had fallen. By the time the Smiths climbed out of their shelter, thousands of survivors were flooding into the Augusta area. As a state of emergency was declared, the University of Maine at Augusta, where Arthur Smith was a teacher, was temporarily closed. Its gymnasium was used as a receiving station for refugees. Samantha went with her parents as her mother, Jane Smith, who was a social worker for the state. Her father volunteered to do what he could and Samantha tried to take it all in. But mostly, she was in shock.
As the Augusta area's population swelled to three times normal, government and private relief efforts ran out quickly. And no help seemed to be coming from Washington, DC, any time soon -- if ever, since it was almost certain that the government there had been disrupted beyond belief. Within months, though, the state government in Augusta made a controvesial decision to pull out of town, hoping for better conditions in Bangor. Two convoys were planned, but when the first convoy (with the governor and much of his staff, as well as randomly selected legislators) did not send a messenger back, the second convoy sought shelter among the refugees, acting as volunteers as gang leaders sought to kill them as well.
The local population came under the control of "warlords" that used whatever means necessary to make sure that they and their cronies had what they needed to survive. Most people horded what they could, in hopes that the gangs didn't run out of easier sources first. Some though, formed a resistance underground, harboring the legitimate government. Arthur Smith and his family formed part of that underground. State Senator Gerald Conley, who had been elected "president of the senate" in January, was staying with them.
As president of the senate (elected by the senate), Conley had become governor of the state when all reports were that Governor Brenan was dead. With the Smiths' help, Conley was able to get the surviving government out of town by the cover of night. At Arthur Smith's suggestion, they did not stop in Bangor, but continued to Houlton, on the border with Canada. The Smiths had left there in 1980 when Arthur took the teaching job in Augusta.
In time, the "Provisional Government of Aroostock" was formed, with Gerald Conley as its first president. Arthur Smith became the first president of the University of Aroostook. Jane Smith became Aroostook's first Secretary of Social Welfare. Samantha, in the meantime, started high school.
Samantha Smith was graduated with a Master's degree in Political Science from the University of Aroostook. Even at the university she had been active in politics. While working as a graduate assistant during the 1996 election, she had served as campaign director for independent presidential candidate Barbara Merrill. Upon graduation, she wrote a history of Aroostook since doomsday. That book, though largely auto-biographical, would become the standard text for the state schools.
Ambassador to Canada
In 1998, though she had campaigned for the opposition, President Baldacci appointed Smith to be the first Ambassador to Canada. This was seen to some to be a way to get this rising political voice out of the country. It would, however, become the catapult that launched her to the presidency less than a decade later.
In her four years serving the interests of Aroostook in St. John's, Smith made contact with much of the rest of the civilized world. In 2001, in fact, she had accompanied then Commanding General of Canadian Forces Walter Natynczyk to the front lines of the break-away province Saguenay. Natynczyk would go on to become prime minister of Canada in 2009.
Returning to Aroostock in 2002, she was elected to the Senate by a comfortable margin even though she ran as an independent. Her career took a great turn as she became an active voice in the reclaiming much of the former state of Maine.
More to come...
The political situation in 2006 was tense. There were voices of contention which called for a breaking away of the formerly Canadian counties if Aroostook failed to support Canada in its ongoing border disputes with Saquenay and St. Lawrence. The "American" counties, though, had been gaining territory as the militia was successfully defeating war-worn warlords in major cities of the former state of Maine. Whereas some of the American population would just as soon have the Canadians leave, Smith was a consolatory voice. She fought for the right of the Canadians to go with their heritage -- but only if the Canadian government was able to safely expand to its old border south of the St. Lawrence River.
In a crowded field, Smith was elected president with a 58% vote in a four-way race to become the first independent president of the new nation. Throughout her first term Smith was able to build strong relations with not only Canada, but also Vermont and Plymouth. A good negotiator, she was able to smooth out border disputes between Plymouth and its neighbors (Vermont and Outer Lands). In 2009, contact was made with the League of Nations and membership status followed soon thereafter. The consummate diplomat, she also served as a chief delegate to the negotiations that ended the Saguenay War in May of 2010. As a result of her success, and her overwhelming popularity, there was only token opposition from the major parties as Samantha Smith was re-elected with 63% of the vote.
More to come ...