Jimmy Carter

president of the United States from 1977 to 1981

James Earl Carter Jr. (born October 1, 1924) is an American politician and philanthropist. He was the 39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Before becoming president, Carter was a Georgia state senator from 1963 to 1967 and the 76th governor of Georgia from 1971 to 1975.

Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter smiling
Official portrait, 1978
39th President of the United States
In office
January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981
Vice PresidentWalter Mondale
Preceded byGerald Ford
Succeeded byRonald Reagan
76th Governor of Georgia
In office
January 12, 1971 – January 14, 1975
LieutenantLester Maddox
Preceded byLester Maddox
Succeeded byGeorge Busbee
Member of the Georgia State Senate
from the 14th district
In office
January 14, 1963 – January 10, 1967
Preceded byDistrict created
Succeeded byHugh Carter
ConstituencySumter County
Personal details
James Earl Carter Jr.

(1924-10-01) October 1, 1924 (age 99)
Plains, Georgia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
(m. 2007; died 2019)
ResidencePlains, Georgia, U.S.
EducationUnited States Naval Academy (BS)
Georgia Institute of Technology
Civilian awardsPresidential Medal of Freedom
Nobel Peace Prize
Grammy Award
SignatureCursive signature in ink
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service1943–1953 (Active)
1953–1961 (Reserve)
Rank Lieutenant
Military awards American Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
China Service Medal
National Defense Service Medal

Born and raised in Plains, Georgia, Carter graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1946 with a Bachelor of Science degree and joined the United States Navy. In 1953, Carter left the military and returned home to Georgia to take charge of the family's peanut-growing business. Carter was against racial segregation and supported the growing civil rights movement. He became an activist in the Democratic Party. From 1963 to 1967, Carter was in the Georgia State Senate, and in 1970, he was elected as Governor of Georgia. He was governor until 1975.

At first, he was not seen as a serious presidential candidate as not many people knew him outside of Georgia. Carter eventually won the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination and was elected president, beating then-Republican President Gerald Ford.

On his second day in office, Carter pardoned all the Vietnam War draft evaders. During Carter's term as president, he created the Department of Energy and the Department of Education. He also created a national energy policy that included conservation, price control, and new technology. In foreign affairs, Carter helped create the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaties, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II), and the return of the Panama Canal Zone to Panama. However, the economy during his presidency was bad as it had stagflation, high inflation, high unemployment and slow economic growth. The end of his presidential term was remembered for the 1979–1981 Iran hostage crisis, the 1979 energy crisis, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

In 1980, Carter ran against Senator Ted Kennedy in the Democratic primaries and won re-nomination at the 1980 Democratic National Convention. Carter lost the presidential election to Republican nominee Ronald Reagan in a landslide. Polls of historians and political scientists usually see Carter as an average president; becoming more popular for his humanitarian work after leaving office.

In 1982, Carter created the Carter Center to focus on human rights across the world. He has traveled to support peace talks, look over elections, and support ending deadly diseases. In 2002, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Carter is seen as an important person in the Habitat for Humanity charity. He has written over 30 books from memoirs to poetry. Carter is the longest-lived president, the longest-retired president, the first to live forty years after their inauguration, and the first to reach the age of 95.

Early life


Carter was born on October 1, 1924, at Lillian Carter Health and Rehabilitation in Plains, Georgia.[1] Carter was the first U.S. president to be born in a hospital.[2] He was the oldest son of Bessie Lillian (née Gordy) and James Earl Carter Sr.[3] He is distantly related to President Richard Nixon and Bill Gates.[4] The family moved several times when Carter was an infant.[5] The Carters settled on a dirt road in nearby Archery.[6]

Carter while in the United States Navy

Carter attended the Plains High School from 1937 to 1941.[7] He also joined the Future Farmers of America and developed a lifelong interest in woodworking.[8][9]

After high school, Carter went to Georgia Southwestern College, in Americus, Georgia.[10] He took extra mathematics courses at Georgia Tech.[11]

In 1943, Carter was accepted to the United States Naval Academy.[12] While at the academy, Carter fell in love with Rosalynn Smith.[13] The two married shortly after his graduation in 1946.[13] He was a sprint football player for the Navy Midshipmen.[14] Carter graduated 60th out of 820 midshipmen in the class of 1946 with a Bachelor of Science degree and became an ensign.[15][16]

From 1946 to 1953, Carter and Rosalynn lived in Virginia, Hawaii, Connecticut, New York and California, during his time in the Atlantic and Pacific fleets.[16] In 1948, he began officers' training for being in a submarine.[16] He was promoted to lieutenant junior grade in 1949.[16]

In 1952, Carter began his work with the US Navy's nuclear submarine program.[17] He was sent to the Naval Reactors Branch of the Atomic Energy Commission in Washington, D.C. for three month.[18] During this time, Rosalynn moved with their children to Schenectady, New York.[17][18]

In March 1953, Carter began nuclear power school at Union College in Schenectady.[19] Carter's father died and he was released from active duty to allow him to take over the family peanut business.[20] Carter left active duty on October 9, 1953.[20]

He was not active at the Navy Reserve until 1961, and left the service as a lieutenant.[21] His awards included the American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, China Service Medal, and National Defense Service Medal.[22]

Farming life


Carter's father, James died after having recently been elected to the Georgia House of Representatives.[23] For a year, Jimmy, Rosalynn, and their three sons lived in public housing in Plains.[24] Carter is the only U.S. president to have lived in public housing before he took office.[24] Carter wanted to expand the family's peanut-growing business.[25] His first-year harvest failed because of droughts, however Carter wanted to open many bank lines of credit to keep the farm going.[25] He also took classes and read on agriculture while Rosalynn learned accounting to manage the business.[26] Even though they struggled at first, the Carters grew the peanut business and became successful.[25][26]

Georgia State Senator, 1963–1967


Carter, who was against racial segregation, was inspired to run for office over the racial tensions in the country.[27] By 1961 he was a known member of the Plains community and the Baptist Church as well as chairman of the Sumter County school board.[28] At the school board, Carter spoke against racial segregation in public schools.[28]

United States representative Bo Callaway was a political enemy of Carter early in his political career

In 1962, Carter announced his run for a seat in the Georgia State Senate.[29] At first, the results showed Carter losing, but this was the result of fraudulent voting done by the Democratic Party chairman in Quitman County.[30] Carter challenged the results; when fraud was confirmed, a new election was held, which he won.[29]

Beginning in 1962, Americus was known where black protesters were hit and abused.[31] Carter did not say anything about this at first.[32] He did speak about some race issues such as giving speeches against literacy tests and against a change to the state constitution.[32] When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Carter called it "the greatest blow that I had suffered since my father died".[33]

Two years later, Carter was in charge of the Democratic Executive Committee, where he helped rewrite the state party's rules.[34] He became chairman of the West Central Georgia Planning and Development Commission.[34]

When Bo Callaway was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 1964, Carter wanted to run against him in the next election.[35] The two had fought over which two-year college would be expanded to a four-year college.[35] Carter wanted it to go to his alma mater, Georgia Southwestern College, but Callaway wanted the funding to go to downtown Columbus.[35]

Carter was re-elected in 1964 to a second two-year term.[36] For a time in the State Senate, he was in charge of its Education Committee and also was part of the Appropriations Committee toward the end of his second term.[37] Before his term ended he worked on a bill expanding statewide education funding and getting Georgia Southwestern a four-year program.[38] The last day of the term, he announced his run for the United States House of Representatives.[39]

1966 and 1970 campaigns for governor

1970 gubernatorial election results. Carter is blue and Suit is red

Carter ran for the United States House of Representatives for Georgia's 3rd district in 1966 against Bo Callaway.[35] However, Callaway ended his campaign to run for Governor of Georgia.[35] Callaway became a Republican in 1964.[40] Carter later wanted to run for governor against Callaway.[35] In the Democratic primary, he ran against the liberal former Governor Ellis Arnall and the conservative Lester Maddox.[41]

Governor Maddox was not allowed to run for a second term as governor in 1970.[42] Carter had to run against Carl Sanders in the 1970 Democratic primary.[43] Carter was more conservative than before during this primary election.[44]

That September, Carter was beating Sanders in the first round by 49% to 38%.[45] Since no one won more than half the vote, they went into a second round.[45] Carter won the Democratic nomination with 59% of the vote against Sanders's 40%.[46] In the general election, Carter beat Republican candidate Hal Suit, winning 59% of the vote against Suit's 40%.[47]

Governor of Georgia, 1971–1975


Carter became the 76th Governor of Georgia on January 12, 1971.[48] In his inaugural speech, he said that "the time of racial discrimination is over. ... No poor, rural, weak, or black person should ever have to bear the additional burden of being [without] the opportunity for an education, a job or simple justice".[48] Time ran a story on the progressive "New South" governors elected that year in a May 1971 cover.[49] The cover of the magazine had Carter.[49]

Carter's official portrait as Governor of Georgia, 1971

Lester Maddox, who Carter replaced as governor, became lieutenant governor.[48] Richard Russell Jr., then President pro tempore of the United States Senate, died in office during Carter's second week in office.[50] Carter picked David H. Gambrell, state Democratic Party chair, to replace Russell's in the United States Senate.[50]

Carter wanted to grow the governor's power while making the state government easier to run.[51] He supported a bill that could give him the power of executive restructuring and to force a vote on it.[51][52] The plan was not popular in the state legislature.[51] But after two weeks of talking about the plan, it was passed.[51] He lowered the number of state agencies from 300 to 22.[53]

In April 1971, while on television, Carter was asked if he supported the idea of governor and lieutenant governor running together.[54] He said, "I've never really thought we needed a lieutenant governor in Georgia. The lieutenant governor is part of the executive branch of government and I've always felt—ever since I was in the state Senate—that the executive branches should be separate".[54] In July 1971, while in Columbus, Georgia, Carter created a Georgia Human Rights Council that would help solve issues in the state of any possible violence.[55]

Governor Carter with Florida Governor Reubin Askew, 1971

In January 1972, Carter wanted to give state money for an Early Childhood Development Program and prison reform programs.[56] In April 1972, Carter went to Latin and South America for a possible trade deal with Georgia.[57] Carter said that he had met with Brazilian President Emílio Garrastazu Médici.[57] Many said he was acting like President Kennedy.[57]

The number of black state workers, judges, and board members grew when Carter was governor.[58] He put paintings of Martin Luther King Jr. in the capitol building, while the Ku Klux Klan were at the ceremony protesting.[59] While on television with Governor of Florida Reubin Askew in January 1973, Carter said he supported a constitutional amendment to ban busing and to make desegregation in schools faster.[60] He supported an anti-busing plan with George Wallace at the 1971 National Governors Conference.[61][62] Carter signed a new death penalty law after the United States Supreme Court rejected it.[63] Carter later said he did not support the death penalty, saying, "I didn't see the injustice of it as I do now".[63]

During the 1972 presidential election, Carter wanted to be George McGovern's running mate

Carter wanted to give equal state aid to schools in the rich and poor areas of Georgia.[64] He helped create centers for mentally handicapped children and education programs for convicts.[65][66] He also wrote a program that made picking federal judges based on their experience over their political party possible.[67][68]

In an unpopular move,[69] Carter rejected a plan to build a dam on Georgia's Flint River.[70] He said that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was not giving the right numbers on the project's cost and possible harm on the region.[70] The veto became popular with environmentalists across the country.[70]

Carter was not allowed to run for re-election because of term limits.[71] Wanting to run for president, Carter was active in national politics and public appearances.[72] He was a delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention, where Carter hoped he would be George McGovern's vice presidential pick.[72] He supported Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, to not support George Wallace.[73][74]

In May 1973, Carter told the Democratic Party to not make the Watergate scandal a political issue.[75]

1976 presidential campaign


Democratic primary

Campaign flyer from Democratic Party presidential primary

On December 12, 1974, Carter announced his candidacy for President of the United States at National Press Club in Washington, D.C.[76] He talked about inequality, optimism, and change.[77][78]

Carter and President Gerald Ford debating in Philadelphia

When Carter first announced his presidential run for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, he was seen as having little chances against better-known politicians.[79] However, by March 1976 Carter was doing better in polls against other candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.[79] He was also ahead of President Ford by a few percentage points.[79] Carter wrote Why Not the Best? in June 1976 to help make his name known for the American public.[80]

Carter won the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.[79] In the South, Carter ran as a moderate and in the North, Carter ran as a conservative Christian.[81] He had visited 37 states, and gave over 200 speeches before any other candidate entered the race.[82] Carter ended up winning 30 states, with a total of 6,235,609 (39.2%) of the popular vote.[83] He was officially nominated as the Democratic nominee at the national convention.[84] He picked U.S. Senator Walter Mondale from Minnesota as his vice president pick.[84]

During his presidential campaign in April 1976, Carter said to an interviewer, "I have nothing against a community that is ... trying to maintain the ethnic purity of their neighborhoods".[85] Carter said he understood why some neighborhoods were against desegregation.[85] However, he also supported open-housing laws that make it illegal not to sell or rent a house or apartment to a person based on their race.[85] His comments were unpopular with many Americans.[85]

Carter's campaign supported congressional campaigns using public financing,[86] creating a federal agency for consumer protection,[87] creating a separate department for education,[88] signing an agreement that would stop the Soviet Union from using nuclear weapons,[89] lowering money given to the military,[90] increasing taxes for the rich and lowering them for the middle class,[91] supporting the Social Security Act,[92] and having a budget that would give money to government resources.[93]

1976 general election

The electoral map of the 1976 election

Carter and President Gerald Ford were in three televised debates during the 1976 election.[94] The debates were the first presidential debates since 1960.[94][95]

Carter was interviewed by Robert Scheer of Playboy for the November 1976 issue, which hit the newsstands a couple of weeks before the election.[96] While discussing his religion's view of pride, Carter said: "I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times".[96][97] He also said in another interview that he did not mind if people said the word "fuck".[98] This led to a media to criticize the idea if politicians should be separated from their political campaigns and their private intimate lives.[98]

Carter began the race with a lead over Ford, who narrowed the gap during the campaign, but lost to Carter in by a small margin on November 2, 1976.[99] Carter won the popular vote by 50.1 percent to 48.0 percent for Ford, and received 297 electoral votes to Ford's 240.[100] Carter won fewer states than Ford, with Carter winning 23 states compared to Ford winning 27.[100]

Presidency, 1977–81


Carter was inaugurated as president on January 20, 1977.[3]

Domestic policies


Energy crisis

Carter with Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda in 1977

On April 18, 1977, Carter gave a televised speech saying that the U.S. energy crisis during the 1970s was like war.[101] He supported energy conservation by all Americans and added solar water heating panels on the White House.[102][103] He wore sweaters because he turned down the heat in the White House.[104] On August 4, 1977, Carter created the Department of Energy.[105] During the signing event, Carter said the current "crisis of energy shortages" made him create the Department of Energy.[106] Carter said that the House of Representatives had created many energy saving ideas.[107] A month later, on October 13, Carter stated he believed in the Senate's power to pass the energy reform bill.[108] He said that "the most important domestic issue that we will face while I am in office" was the energy crisis.[108]

On January 12, 1978, during a press conference, Carter said plans about his energy reform proposal were not being made and that Congress was not being respectful.[109] In April 1978, Carter said his biggest surprise since becoming president was the how hard it was for Congress to pass an energy reform bill.[110]

Carter with German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, July 1977

On March 1, 1979, Carter wanted to create a gasoline rationing plan with Congress approving it.[111] On April 5, he talked about how important energy conservation is.[112] At the end of the month, Carter said it was important that the Congress pass his gas rationing plan.[113] On July 15, 1979, Carter said the crisis was a "crisis of confidence" among the American people.[114][115] Many did not like Carter's speech.[116][117][118] People thought Carter for not doing enough to solve the crisis.[119] Many believed he wanted Americans to do most of the work instead of the government.[119]

EPA Love Canal Superfund


In 1978, Carter said the Love Canal accident in the city of Niagara Falls, New York was a federal emergency.[120] During the 1940s, the canal was used as the site to dump chemical products from dyes, perfumes, and solvents for rubber and synthetic resins.[121] More than 800 families were evacuated from the neighborhood, which was built on top of a toxic waste landfill.[120] The Superfund law was created because of Love Canal.[122] Carter said that many places like "Love Canals" existed across the country.[123] He said that discovering hazardous dumpsites was "one of the [saddest] discoveries of our modern era".[123]

In 1979, the Environmental Protection Agency said that people living near the Love Canal accident were at risk for leukemia.[124][125][126]


Carter with his wife Rosalynn and daughter Amy

Carter had many problems with the economy when he became president.[127] He tried to continue the recovery from the severe 1973–75 recession.[128] His economy also had high inflation, with very high interest rates, oil shortages, and slow economic growth.[127] In his first two years, Carter created millions of new jobs.[129][130]

The 1979 energy crisis ended job growth, however, and both inflation and interest rates rose.[131] Economic growth, job creation, and consumer confidence quickly went down.[131] There was also not a lot of gasoline because of the oil crisis.[132]

Carter signing the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978

Carter signed the Airline Deregulation Act into law on October 24, 1978.[133] The main purpose was to remove government control over fees, routes and airline market from commercial aviation.[133] The Civil Aeronautics Board's powers of regulation were removed.[133] The act did not remove the FAA's powers over airline safety.[134]

In 1979, Carter deregulated the American beer industry by making it legal to sell malt, hops, and yeast to American home brewers for the first time since the beginning of Prohibition in the United States.[135] This led to an increase in home brewing over the 1980s and 1990s that by the 2000s.[136]


Carter with former Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, January 1978

During his presidential campaign, Carter wanted to fix healthcare in the country.[137]

Carter's plans on healthcare included an April 1977 mandatory health care cost proposal,[138] and a June 1979 plan that gave private health insurance coverage.[139] Carter saw the June 1979 plan as a growing part of Medicare and Medicaid.[140][141] The April 1977 mandatory health care cost plan was passed in the Senate,[142] and later was not approved in the House.[143]

During 1978, Carter also had meetings with Kennedy for a healthcare law that did not pass the U.S. House.[144] Carter later blamed Kennedy for his healthcare plans not being approved in Congress.[145]


Carter announcing his plans to create the Department of Education, September 1978

Carter worked with Congress to create an education department.[146] In February 1978, Carter said that education is very important and should not be in control over many departments.[147] On February 8, 1979, Carter released a plan to create an education department.[146] On October 17, 1979, Carter signed a law that created the United States Department of Education.[148]

Carter grew the Head Start program by adding 43,000 children and families.[149] In a November 1980 speech, Carter said he would allow the Head Start to migrant children and wanted to increase building schools near the Mexico–United States border in Texas.[150]

Foreign policies


Peace treaties

Carter talking about the Panama Canal Treaty, September 1977

In September 1977, Carter and General Omar Torrijos signed the Panama Canal Treaty.[151] The treaties would give Panama control of the Panama Canal after 1999.[151] This would remove United States control of the canal.[151] The second treaty said that Panama would have full control of the canal.[151] The treaty was not popular with conservatives.[151]

In September 1978, Carter created many political agreements between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin at Camp David.[152] The two agreements were signed at the White House.[152] The second of these frameworks helped create the 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty.[153]

Leaders during the signing of the Camp David Accords, 1978



Carter spoke to African officials at the United Nations about his support of democratic elections and power in African countries.[154] Carter later said his plans for wanting "to work with South Africa in dealing with the threats to peace in Namibia and in Zimbabwe" and to end racial issues like apartheid.[155]

Carter with President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo, April 1978

Carter visited Nigeria from March 31 to April 3, 1978, trying to fix relations with the country.[156] He was the first U.S. president to visit Nigeria.[157] Carter wanted to create peace in Rhodesia.[158]

On May 16, 1979, the Senate voted in favor of President Carter ending economic sanctions against Rhodesia.[159]

Iran hostage crisis

Carter talking about the Iran hostage crisis, September 1980

In November 1977, Carter said he wanted to have a good partnership between the United States and Iran.[160]

In November 1979, a group of Iranian students took over the United States Embassy in Tehran.[161] The students were in support of the Iranian Revolution.[161] 52 Americans were held hostage for the next 444 days until they were freed on January 20, 1981.[162] They were freed on the day Ronald Reagan replaced Carter as president.[162] During the crisis, Carter never left the White House for more than 100 days.[163] In December 1979, Carter said he wanted to solve the issue without using the military or violence.[164] On April 7, 1980, Carter passed Executive Order 12205, adding economic sanctions against Iran[165] and announced more action to make sure the hostages were released safely.[166][167] On April 24, 1980, Carter pushed for Operation Eagle Claw to try to free the hostages.[168] The mission failed as military helicopters crashed killing eight American military people.[168][169]

Whistleblowers have said that people working on Ronald Reagan's campaign convinced Iran to not release the hostages to make sure Carter was not re-elected.[170]

Soviet Union


On February 8, 1977, Carter said he had wanted the Soviet Union to work with the United States to stop nuclear testing.[171] During a June 13 meeting, Carter said that the United States would begin to talk to the Soviet Union about demilitarization of the Indian Ocean.[172] On December 30, Carter said that the United States and the Soviet Union have made great progress on talking about important issues.[173] These talks helped create the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty II by Carter and Leonid Brezhnev on June 18, 1979.[174][175]

Carter and Leonid Brezhnev signing the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks

Nur Muhammad Taraki and other Communists took power in Afghanistan on April 27, 1978.[176] Following an uprising in April 1979, Taraki was removed by Khalq rival Hafizullah Amin in September.[177] By December, Amin's government had lost control of much of the country.[176] This caused the Soviet Union to invade Afghanistan.[176] Carter was surprised by the invasion.[178] The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was seen as a threat and Carter saw the Soviet Union as dangerous.[179] Carter announced sanctions on the Soviet Union.[179][180] He created an embargo on grain to the Soviet Union.[181][182] Carter also supported not taking part of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.[183] British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher supported Carter's actions towards the Soviet Union.[184] In early 1980, Carter created a program to arm the mujahideen.[185] The Soviets were unable to fight off them off and left Afghanistan in 1989.[185]

South Korea


In March 1977, Carter supported removing American troops from South Korea.[186] He wanted South Korea to have their own military forces to protect themselves from North Korea.[186] Carter's move to remove the troops was unpopular with military officials.[187] In May, Carter said he believed South Korea would be able to defend themselves without as many American troops.[188] From June 30 to July 1, 1979, Carter had meetings with President of South Korea Park Chung-hee at the Blue House.[189]

1980 presidential election

Carter and President-elect Ronald Reagan during before Reagan was sworn in, January 1981

Democratic primary challenge


Carter said that the liberal part of the Democratic Party did not support his policies the most.[190] He said they were caused by Senator Ted Kennedy's plan to replace him as president.[190] Kennedy announced his plans to run for president in November 1979.[191][192][193] Kennedy did not run a good campaign and Carter won most of the primaries.[194] Carter won the Democratic re-nomination, however, Kennedy gave Carter weak support from the Liberal Democrats in the general election.[194] Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale were nominated at the Democratic National Convention in New York City.[195]

General election


Carter's campaign for re-election in 1980 was not easy as he ran against Republican Ronald Reagan.[196] His campaign manager and former appointments secretary, Timothy Kraft, left the campaign five weeks before the election because of possible cocaine use.[197] On October 28, Carter and Reagan had the only presidential debate of the election.[198] Reagan was losing to Carter at first,[199] but after the debates, Reagan became popular.[200]

Carter lost his re-election to Reagan in a landslide victory.[196] Reagan won 489 of the electoral votes and Carter won 49.[196] After the election, Carter said that he was hurt by the outcome of the election.[201]


The Carters at the state funeral of President George Bush in December 2018

Shortly after losing his re-election bid, Carter told the White House press corps that he wanted his retirement to be similar than that of Harry S. Truman and not use his public life to make himself rich.[202] In October 1986, his presidential library was opened in Atlanta, Georgia.[203]

At aged 88, Carter built homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy,[204] and partnered with former presidents to work with One America Appeal to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma in the Gulf Coast and Texas communities.[205]

Carter went to the opening ceremonies of his presidential library[203] and those of Presidents Ronald Reagan,[206] George H. W. Bush,[207] Bill Clinton,[208][209] and George W. Bush.[210] He gave eulogies at the funerals of Coretta Scott King[211] Gerald Ford,[212][213] Theodore Hesburgh,[214] and John Lewis.[215] He has gone to the state funeral of every former president since he left office: Nixon in 1994, Reagan in 2004, Ford in 2006 and Bush Sr. in 2018.[213][216][217] When going to the inauguration of Donald Trump in 2017, he became the oldest former president to go to one.[218]

In 1982, Carter founded the Carter Center,[219] a non-governmental and non-profit organization with the purpose of spreading human rights and end human suffering.[220] He wanted to help improve the quality of life for people in more than 80 countries.[221]


Carter talking about his legacy and the work of the Carter Center

In 1994, President Bill Clinton wanted Carter's help in a North Korea peace mission.[222][223] Carter talked with Kim Il-sung about a possible peace deal.[224] Carter went to North Korea to help release of Aijalon Gomes in August 2010.[225][226] In 2017, Carter said that he had talked to the Trump administration about having him talk to North Korea about peace.[227]

In October 1984, Carter was named an honorary citizen of Peru.[228] Carter supported the country's elections in 2001,[229] and supported the Peruvian government after meeting President of Peru Alan García in April 2009, where he was honored with a medal.[230]

In his February 1986 talks with Tomás Borge, Carter helped support the release of journalist Luis Mora and labor leader Jose Altamirano,[231] while in Nicaragua for three days.[232]

Bolivian President Evo Morales with Carter in 2007

Carter went to Cuba in May 2002 and talked to Fidel Castro.[233] He went to Cuba again for three days in March 2011.[234]

Carter went to the Middle East in September 1981 meeting with Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin.[235] In March 1983, he went to Egypt to talk about the Palestine Liberation Organization.[236] In December 2008, he met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.[237][238]

Carter went to Syria in April 2008,[239] visiting the grave of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah[240] and he said he was not working with the Bush administration about meeting with Hamas leaders.[241]

In July 2007, Carter worked Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa to create The Elders.[242] This group was meant focus on peace talks.[242][243] Carter wanted to travel to Zimbabwe to support human rights in November 2008, but was stopped by President Robert Mugabe's government.[244]

Carter went to Egypt and Tunisia in 1995 and 1996 to talk about violence in the Great Lakes region of Africa.[245] He had an important role in talking about the Nairobi Agreement in 1999 between Sudan and Uganda.[246]

Presidential politics


During the presidency of George W. Bush, Carter was against the Iraq War.[247] He believed Bush wanted to remove Saddam Hussein by using lies.[248] In May 2007, Carter stated the Bush administration "has been the worst in history" in terms of its impact in foreign affairs,[249] Carter did not support Bush administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina.[250]

Carter with Presidents Clinton, Obama, and Bush in 2013

Though he supported President Barack Obama in the early part of his presidency,[251] Carter criticized his use of drone strikes against suspected terrorists, Obama's choice to keep Guantanamo Bay detention camp open,[252] and use of surveillance programs.[253][254]

In July 2016, Carter announced his support of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's presidential nomination during the 2016 Democratic National Convention.[255] Carter said that the 2016 election would "define the US for a generation".[255] He originally supported Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and voted for him during the primaries in 2016.[256]

During the Donald Trump presidency, Carter supported immigration reform through Congress,[257] and did not support Trump for role during the national anthem protests.[258]

In September 2019, Carter said he would support an "age-limit" for presidential candidates.[256]

In August 2020, he supported former Vice President Joe Biden for president during a video played at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.[259]

Personal life


Carter and Rosalynn Smith were married on July 7, 1946 in the Plains Methodist Church, the church of Rosalynn's family.[260] They have three sons, one daughter, eight grandsons, three granddaughters, and two great-grandsons.[261][262]

The Carters in March 2012

Carter and his wife Rosalynn were well known for their work as volunteers with Habitat for Humanity.[263]

Carter's hobbies included painting,[264] fly-fishing, woodworking, cycling, tennis, and skiing.[265] He also liked poetry.[266]

Carter was also a personal friend of Elvis Presley.[267] Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, met him on June 30, 1973, before Presley was to perform onstage in Atlanta.[267] The day after Presley's death, Carter issued a statement and explained how he had "changed the face of American popular culture".[268]

In 2000, Carter ended his membership with the Southern Baptist Convention, saying the group's ideas did not support with his Christian beliefs.[269]

Carter became the oldest to ever attend a presidential inauguration in 2017, at age 92, and the first to live to the 40th anniversary of their own.[270][271] Two years later, on March 22, 2019, he became the nation's longest-lived president.[272] On October 1, 2019, Carter became the first U.S. president to live to the age of 95.[273]

In May 2023, it was announced that his wife Rosalynn had dementia.[274][275] She entered hospice care alongside her husband on November 17, 2023,[276] and died two days later at the age of 96.[277] He went to her funeral in Atlanta on November 28 alongside all living former first ladies, former President Bill Clinton and President Joe Biden.[278] She was buried at their home that they built, where Carter also planned to be buried.[279]


Carter after his fall in October 2019

On August 3, 2015, Carter had surgery to remove "a small mass" on his liver. On August 12, however, Carter announced he had been diagnosed with cancer that had metastasized.[280] On August 20, he said that melanoma had been found in his brain and liver.[281] On December 6, 2015, Carter said that his medical scans no longer showed any cancer.[282]

On May 13, 2019, Carter broke his hip at his Plains home and had surgery in Americus, Georgia.[283] On October 6, 2019, Carter got 14 stitches above his left eyebrow after injuring it during another fall at home.[284] A few weeks later, Carter was hospitalized after having a minor pelvic fracture after falling again at home.[285] A month after his fall, Carter was hospitalized in November at the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta to relieve pressure on his brain.[286] The surgery was successful, and Carter was released from the hospital on November 27.[287][288]

In February 2021, it was announced that Carter and his wife both received their doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.[289]

In late February 2023, Carter stopped medical treatment and started hospice care at home.[290] He was being treated for an "aggressive form" of melanoma.[291] On March 13, 2023 it was revealed by President Joe Biden that Carter had asked him to deliver his eulogy after his death.[292]



Carter's presidency was at first seen as unpopular in historical rankings of American presidents.[293][294][295] Although his presidency was unpopular, his peace and humanitarian works since he left office have made Carter one of the most popular former presidents in American history.[296][297]

His presidential approval numbers was just 31 percent before the 1980 election, but 64 percent approved of his presidency in a 2009 poll.[298] The Independent wrote, "Carter is widely [seen as] a better man than he was a president".[299]


President Bill Clinton honors the Carters with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, August 1999

Carter has had many awards since his presidency. In 1998, the U.S. Navy named the third and last Seawolf-class submarine honoring former President Carter and his service as a submariner officer.[300] That year he also received the United Nations Human Rights Prize, given in honor of human rights achievements,[301] and the Hoover Medal.[302] He won the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.[303]

Carter has been nominated nine times for the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for audio recordings of his books, and has won three times in 2007, 2016 and 2019.[304][305][306][307]

The Souther Field Airport in Americus, Georgia was renamed Jimmy Carter Regional Airport in 2009.[308]

More readings

  • Califano, Joseph A. Jr. (2007) [1981]. Governing America: An insider's report from the White House and the Cabinet. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4165-5211-6.
  • Jordan, Hamilton (1982). Crisis: The Last Year of the Carter Presidency. Putnam. ISBN 978-0-399-12738-0.
  • Lance, Bert (1991). The Truth of the Matter: My Life in and out of Politics. Summit. ISBN 978-0-671-69027-4.


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