September 27

This Day in History

Cold War

Sep 27, 1959:

Khrushchev ends trip to the United States

Nikita Khrushchev ends his dramatic and eventful visit to the United States and returns to the Soviet Union. For nearly two weeks, his trip dominated the news in America and around the world.

Khrushchev arrived in the United States on September 15. His plan was to tour America and conclude his trip nearly two weeks later with a summit meeting with President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Hopes were high that the visit marked a turning point in the Cold War and that perhaps the Soviet leader's oft-proclaimed desire for "peaceful coexistence" with the United States would become a reality. Before official business began, however, Khrushchev--the first Soviet head of state to visit the United States--took the opportunity to tour parts of America. At the top of his list was a visit to Hollywood. His trip to the land of make-believe took a bizarre turn, however, as he engaged in a verbal sparring match with the head of Twentieth Century Fox Studio. Khrushchev, displaying his famous temper, threatened to return home after the studio chief made some ill-chosen remarks about U.S.-Soviet competition. Khrushchev's outburst was nothing compared to the tantrum he threw when he learned he could not visit Disneyland because of security concerns. Returning to Washington, the Soviet leader began two days of talks with Eisenhower on a number of issues. Although no specific agreements were reached, both leaders resolved to continue their discussions in the future and keep the lines of communication open.

On September 27, Khrushchev concluded his visit. He met briefly to exchange goodbyes with Eisenhower and then was escorted to the airport by Vice President Richard Nixon. A few months earlier, at the American National Exhibition in Moscow, Nixon and Khrushchev had engaged in the famous "kitchen debate" concerning the battle between communism and capitalism. Now, however, the two men were exhibited great goodwill toward each other. With a 21-gun salute and a U.S. military band playing both the American and Soviet national anthems, Khrushchev boarded a Russian aircraft and returned to the Soviet Union.

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