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1959 St Lawrence Seaway Opened
The United States had, for some time, been conducting high level flights over the Soviet Union. The US was confident that the Soviets had no means to shoot down the U-2, which flew at 100,000 feet. When one of the U-2's did not return from a mission, and the Soviets claimed to have shot it down, the military believed that it could deny responsibility for the U-2, assuming that no one could have survived.

American officials were embarrassed, therefore, when Gary Powers, the pilot of the U-2 in question, was paraded in front of Soviet television cameras. The event took place a short time before a summit was to occur between President Eisenhower and Chairman Kruschev. Kruschev seemed to provide Eisenhower with a way out of the sticky affair by saying that he understood that Eisenhower might not have had knowledge of the U-2 missions.

Eisenhower, however, took complete responsibility for the affair. At the opening of the summit meeting, Kruschev demanded an apology, and when Eisenhower refused to comply, the meeting broke up in disarray.