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President Jimmy Carter

President Jimmy Carter, born in 1924, serves as the main focus of this description.

When was Jimmy Carter born?

Jimmy Carter was born in 1924.

Where was Jimmy Carter born?

Jimmy Carter was born in Plains, Georgia.

How old was Jimmy Carter when he became president?

Jimmy Carter became president at the age of 52.

What years was Jimmy Carter president?

Jimmy Carter was president from 1977 – 1981.

Early Life of Jimmy Carter

President Jimmy Carter was born as James Earl Carter Jr.on October 1, 1924, in Plains, Georgia. Plains was a small farming town with a population of just a few hundred.

The Carter family lived in a small, rundown farmhouse on the outskirts of town.

James was the first of four children. He had 2 sisters and a brother. Their names were Gloria, Ruth, and Billy.

His father, James Earl Carter Sr., was a farmer and businessman, while his mother, Lillian Gordy Carter, was a nurse.

From a young age, Jimmy was known as a bookworm and a straight-A student, and stood out in math and science. But despite his academic prowess, he never quite fit in with the other kids in Plains. They teased him mercilessly for his love of reading, and Jimmy often felt like an outcast.

Jimmy Carter in the US Navy

In 1943, when Jimmy was just 19 years old, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was sent to serve as a submariner during World War II.

It was a grueling experience, but it also gave Jimmy a sense of purpose and belonging that he had never felt before.

When the war ended, he returned to Georgia and enrolled at the United States Naval Academy, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in science.

Entering Politics

After completing his education, Jimmy returned to Plains and took over the family’s peanut farm. It was a gruelling existence, but Jimmy threw himself into the work, determined to make a success of the farm.

In his spare time, he became involved in local politics, serving on the Sumter County school board and eventually running for state senate.

In 1971, he was elected as the governor of Georgia, and he served in that role until 1975.

Jimmy’s ambitions didn’t stop there. In 1976, he ran for president of the United States, and to the surprise of many, he won.

And so it was that James Earl Carter Jr., the bookish, unpopular kid from Plains, Georgia, became the 39th president of the United States. 

The history of Jimmy Carter has two halves.

President Jimmy Carter did not lead the country very well. He made questionable decisions creating conflicts and crises that would tarnish Carter and his time in office.

For the second half, Carter has gone on to live for another 40 years following his presidential loss to Ronald Reagan. He has had an even greater influence, building the Jimmy Carter image known to us today.

Carter was elected to power in 1976.

Victory in the 1976 election didn’t come easily. Carter would lose ground over the course of the race, and the result was narrow.

The Electoral College vote was 297 to 240, which meant fewer states declaring for Carter than Ford. The popular vote was 50.1% to 48% which was enough to secure the presidency.

Jimmy Carter only narrowly won the presidency against Ford.

Jimmy Carter’s impact on foreign relations.

There are two sides to Carter’s efforts on the international stage. On the one side, you have the president working to broker peace with nations and dealing with crises worldwide. Then you have on the other side,  the issues of the Iranian hostage crisis and the growing tensions with the Soviet Union in the Cold War.

Understandably, many will focus on the latter, as they are seen as pivotal in the loss of voter confidence and led to the loss of the election in 1980.

The Camp David Accords

The Camp David Accords resulted from a long process of peaceful negotiations between Israel and Egypt. The aim was for the US to act as a neutral ally brokering peace and guiding the countries to a resolution.

After this 14-day process under the guidance of Carter at Camp David, the two countries would go on to form a peace treaty.

In addition, Carter would work to ratify the Panama Canal treaties and improve diplomatic relations with China.

It is work such as this that undoubtedly led to his later recognition with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

However, other conflicts would sway public opinion and help ensure he served only one presidential term.

Jimmy Carter did a lot to help world peace leading to his Nobel peace prize in 2002.

Cold War was Carter’s Downfall

Carter’s problem was that he was accused of escalating the Cold War due to his response to the Soviet Union.

At first, relations with the Soviet Union seemed to be going pretty well.

Carter stated on February 8th, 1977, that there was an agreement with the Soviets to create a comprehensive ban on testing all nuclear weapons for an extended period.

It was also reported that the Soviet Union would cease the deployment of the RSD-10 Pioneer. Things were civil, and there seemed to be ongoing progress between the nations.

This would continue later in the year when Carter announced a close relationship with the Soviets regarding a further ban. This time, it prohibited any nuclear devices without the atmosphere or underground. Again, this seemed like a step in the right direction. However, it would all turn sour the following year.

Events of Afghanistan

On April 27th, 1978, the leadership of Afghanistan was seized by a group of communists. In December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan to support this new People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, fearing a loss of power from insurgent forces.

The US decided to step in, and Carter committed efforts to the Persian Gulf defense, part of a 5% annual increase in defense spending.

Furthermore, he would retaliate and punish the Soviet Union through embargoes and boycotts. This included an embargo on grain shipments and the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics boycott.

Then came the Iranian hostage situation.

On the 4th of November 1979, the US Embassy in Tehran was taken over by a group of Iranian students with links to the Iranian Revolution. The students would take 52 Americans hostage – a group of diplomats and citizens within the embassy – leading to a long and distressing situation for all involved.

To begin with, Carter insisted that the conflict should be resolved without any need for military action. There was no desire to place any of the 52 hostages at risk when there may have been a chance for a peaceful resolution. During this time, Carter would stay within the White House working on his response.

However, just over five months into the situation, Carter issued an executive order imposing economic sanctions and prepared for further action to secure a safe release. Two weeks later, he ordered Operation Eagle Claw to storm the embassy, capture the students and free the hostages.

painting of US soldiers storming embassy.
The Iranian hostage situation led to the United States storming the embassy in Iran. The mission was a huge failure.

The mission was a failure and led to the loss of eight US servicemen. The US Secretary of State resigned over the failure, Carter’s popularity declined over the mishandling, and the situation continued.

The hostages were not released until January 20th, 1981, when Carter left office, and Ronald Reagan took over the presidency.

National events during Carter’s presidency.

The administration worked hard in many areas for improvements in education, civil rights, social services, the environment, and more. This includes the creation of the Department of Education and expanding the national park system with 103 protected acres in Alaska.

Environmental issues and US energy crisis.

The 1970s saw an ongoing energy crisis in the US that would threaten the economy and energy usage across the nation.

Carter believed that he was responsible for encouraging Americans to do their bit to help and show that he was part of that action.

He called the situation the moral equivalent of war, which may have been too strong a phrase. He would go on to encourage energy reduction by being seen wearing sweaters instead of using heating and by placing solar water heating panels on the White House.

This sounds great from a modern perspective with what we know about climate change. Back then, it was harder to get the message across.

Carter would have an ongoing fight dealing with energy producers and the impact on the economy.

Spending, inflation, and unemployment.

On the subject of economics, Carter inherited some big economic issues from his predecessor in the form of inflation and unemployment.

During his four-year term, he would continue to work to stabilize the issues and improve prospects for citizens. This was a success in some areas, as there was an increase of around 8 million jobs in that period and a decrease in the budget deficit.

However, he failed to handle inflation adequately, and this, along with high-interest rates, led to a short recession.

This economic issue would add fuel to the fire when it came to deciding who to vote for in the 1980 election. Carter was, at this point, the man who had made too many questionable choices in foreign and domestic affairs. The early work at Camp David wasn’t enough anymore.

The 1980 election 

When the election race came back around in 1980, Carter found himself in trouble on both sides. Not only did he have issues with the Republicans trying to get into power, but he also had a lack of support from the Democrats.

There were many in the party leaning towards the more liberal Ted Kennedy for the nomination.

Carter would go on to run for the Democrats in a position of weakness. The Republicans would then win decisively across most states and even took control of the Senate. This was the first time they had done so since 1952.

Jimmy Carter outside of the White House.

One of the most notable parts of Carter’s legacy is the time spent away from the role. While historians can spend decades analyzing the man’s body of work as President for that short period, we can’t overlook his efforts outside of the White House.

He won many prizes and awards during this time, including the United Nations Human Rights Prize and the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel Prize came for his “untiring effort” to create and find peace in international conflicts.

Today, the elderly former president has an image of a great humanitarian and someone many of us look up to. A large part of this comes from his efforts in organizations like Habitat For Humanity.

In October 2019, the then 95-year-old Carter fell at his home in Georgia and required stitches. But, the very next day, he was up and out, continuing to build homes with this project. This work has been a part of the lives of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter for more than 30 years, and they still make the time to volunteer for a non-profit each year.

Carter also established the Carter Center in 1982 to expand human rights.

Political views in later life.

There is still a strong interest in politics and a desire to speak out when needed on certain issues, such as the ongoing situation between Israel and Palestine.

There is also the sense that if he was fit enough to attend, he would have been at the Biden inauguration.

Carter’s interest in current affairs and issues has also led to some open opinions about several civil and equal rights issues.

Many modern Democrats and liberals are pleased to see Carter side with them on many major issues. Carter has never been shy about his religion and the impact of his faith on his beliefs.

While this can lead to some more old-fashioned views on some issues, such as abortion, he has come out in favor of gay marriage and women’s issues. He has also supported stronger gun control, opposed the death penalty, and spoken out against the use of torture at Guantanamo Bay.

The future for Jimmy Carter and his legacy.

At the time of writing this, Jimmy Carter is still with us and possibly planning his next non-profit project.

Still, plans are in place for his death and funeral. It is reported that there will be a funeral in Washington to honor him – which will undoubtedly be watched by millions of supporters and fans that weren’t even alive when he left office.

Younger generations will have no living memory of the Iranian hostage situation or the fear of the Cold War. To those under 40, Carter will remain the ex-president that built all their homes.

However, it is still important that these younger voters see both sides of the Jimmy Carter story.

Whether they agree with his decisions in the hostage crisis, question his approach with the Soviet Union, or focus on the Camp David Accords, they can see both sides of his history.

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