Jimmy Carter

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Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter

In office
January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981
Vice President Walter Mondale
Preceded by Gerald Ford
Succeeded by Ronald Reagan

In office
January 12, 1971 – January 14, 1975
Lieutenant Lester Maddox
Preceded by Lester Maddox
Succeeded by George Busbee

Member of the Georgia State Senate from 14th District
In office
January 14, 1963 – 1966
Preceded by New district
Succeeded by Hugh Carter
Constituency Sumter County

In office
June 15, 1976 – November 2, 1976
Preceded by George McGovern
Succeeded by Jimmy Carter (himself)

In office
May 29, 1980 – November 4, 1980
Preceded by Jimmy Carter (himself)
Succeeded by Walter Mondale

Born October 1, 1924 (1924-10-01) (age 84)
Plains, Georgia
Birth name James Earl Carter, Jr.
Political party Democratic
Spouse Rosalynn Smith Carter
Children John William Carter
James Earl Carter III
Donnel Jeffrey Carter
Amy Lynn Carter
Alma mater Georgia Southwestern College
Union College
United States Naval Academy
Profession Farmer (peanuts), naval officer
Religion Baptist
Signature Jimmy Carter's signature
Military service
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1946-1953
Rank Lieutenant

James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. (born October 1, 1924) served as the 39th President of the United States from 1977 to 1981 and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize. Prior to becoming president, Carter served two terms in the Georgia Senate and as the 76th Governor of Georgia, from 1971 to 1975.[1]

As president, Carter created two new cabinet-level departments: the Department of Energy and the Department of Education. He established a national energy policy that included conservation, price control, and new technology. In foreign affairs, Carter pursued the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaties and the second round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II). Carter sought to put a stronger emphasis on human rights; he negotiated a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt in 1979. His return of the Panama Canal Zone to Panama was seen as a major concession of U.S. influence in Latin America, and Carter came under heavy criticism for it. The final year of his presidential tenure was marked by several major crises, including the 1979 takeover of the American embassy in Iran and holding of hostages by Iranian students, a failed rescue attempt of the hostages, serious fuel shortages, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. By 1980, Carter's disapproval ratings were significantly higher than his approval, and he was challenged by Ted Kennedy for the Democratic Party nomination in the 1980 election. Carter defeated Kennedy for the nomination, but lost the election to Republican Ronald Reagan.

After leaving office, Carter and his wife Rosalynn founded The Carter Center, a nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization that works to advance human rights. He has traveled extensively to conduct peace negotiations, observe elections, and advance disease prevention and eradication in developing nations. He is also a key figure in the Habitat for Humanity project.[2] Carter also remains particularly vocal on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As of 2009, Carter is the second-oldest living former president, three months and 19 days younger than George H. W. Bush.

Early life

With his dog, Bozo, in 1937, around age 13.
Jimmy Carter as a midshipman at the US Naval Academy
With his mother, Lillian Carter, February 17, 1977

Jimmy was a native Georgian, born and raised in the tiny southwest Georgia hamlet of Plains near the larger town of Americus. The Carter family had lived in the state for several generations, and his great-grandfather Private L.B. Walker Carter (1832–1874) served in the Confederate States Army.

The first president born in a hospital,[3] he was the eldest of four children of James Earl Carter and Bessie Lillian Gordy. Carter's father was a prominent business owner in the community and his mother was a registered nurse. He was a gifted student from an early age who always had a fondness for reading. By the time he attended Plains High School, he was also a star in basketball. He was greatly influenced by one of his high school teachers, Julia Coleman (1889-1973). While he was in high school he participated in the Future Farmers of America, which later changed its name to the National FFA Organization.[4]

Carter had three younger siblings: his brother, William Alton "Billy" Carter (1937–1988), and sisters Gloria Carter Spann (1926–1990) and Ruth Carter Stapleton (1929–1983). During Carter's Presidency, his brother Billy was often in the news, often in an unflattering light.

He married Rosalynn Smith in 1946. They had four children: John William "Jack" Carter (born 1947); James Earl "Chip" Carter III (born 1950); Donnel Jeffrey "Jeff" Carter, (born 1952) and Amy Lynn Carter (born 1967). He's related to Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. on his mother's side.


After high school, Carter enrolled at Georgia Southwestern College, in Americus. He would later apply to the U.S. Naval Academy and, after taking additional mathematics courses at Georgia Tech, he was admitted in 1943. Carter performed well at the academy, and graduated 59th out of 820 midshipmen.[5]

Naval career

Carter served on surface ships and on diesel-electric submarines in the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. As a junior officer, he completed qualification for command of a diesel-electric submarine. He applied for the U.S. Navy's fledgling nuclear submarine program run by then Captain Hyman G. Rickover. Rickover's demands on his men and machines were legendary, and Carter later said that, next to his parents, Rickover had the greatest influence on him.

Carter has said that he loved the Navy, and had planned to make it his career. His ultimate goal was to become Chief of Naval Operations. Carter felt the best route for promotion was with submarine duty since he felt that nuclear power would be increasingly used in submarines. During service on the diesel-electric submarine USS Pomfret, Carter was almost washed overboard.[6] After six years of military service, Carter trained for the position of engineering officer in submarine USS Seawolf, then under construction.[7] Carter completed a non-credit introductory course in nuclear reactor power at Union College starting in March 1953. This followed Carter's first-hand experience as part of a group of American and Canadian servicemen who took part in cleaning up after a nuclear meltdown at Canada's Chalk River Laboratories reactor.[8][9]

Upon the death of his father, James Earl Carter, Sr., in July 1953, however, Lieutenant Carter immediately resigned his commission, and he was discharged from the Navy on October 9, 1953.[10][11] This cut short his nuclear powerplant operator training, and he was never able to serve on a nuclear submarine, since the first boat of that fleet, the USS Nautilus, was launched on January 17, 1955, over a year after his discharge from the Navy.[12]

Farming and teachings

He then took over and expanded his family business in Plains. There he was involved in a peanut farming accident that left him with a permanently bent finger. His farming business was successful, and during the 1970 gubernatorial campaign, he was considered a wealthy peanut farmer.[13]

From a young age, Carter showed a deep commitment to Christianity, serving as a Sunday School teacher throughout his life. Even as President, Carter prayed several times a day, and professed that Jesus Christ was the driving force in his life. Carter had been greatly influenced by a sermon he had heard as a young man, called, "If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?"[14]

Early political career

State Senate

Jimmy Carter started his career by serving on various local boards, governing such entities as the schools, hospitals, and libraries, among others. In the 1960s, he served two terms in the Georgia Senate from the fourteenth district of Georgia.

His 1962 election to the state Senate, which followed the end of Georgia's County Unit System (per the Supreme Court case of Gray v. Sanders), was chronicled in his book Turning Point: A Candidate, a State, and a Nation Come of Age. The election involved corruption led by Joe Hurst, the sheriff of Quitman County; system abuses included votes from deceased persons and tallies filled with people who supposedly voted in alphabetical order. It took a challenge of the fraudulent results for Carter to win the election. Carter was reelected in 1964, to serve a second two-year term.

For a time in State Senate he chaired its Education Committee[15].

In 1966, Carter declined running for re-election as a state senator to pursue a gubernatorial run. His first cousin, Hugh Carter, was elected as a Democrat and took over his seat in the Senate.

Campaigns for Governor

In 1966, during the end of his career as a state senator, he flirted with the idea of running for the United States House of Representatives. His Republican opponent dropped out and decided to run for Governor of Georgia. Carter did not want to see a Republican Governor of his state, and, in turn, dropped out of the race for Congress and joined the race to become Governor. Carter lost the Democratic primary, but drew enough votes as a third place candidate to force the favorite, Ellis Arnall, into a runoff election, setting off a chain of events which resulted in the election of Lester Maddox. During this race Carter ran as a moderate alternative to both liberal Arnall and conservative Maddox[16]. Although he lost, his strong third place finish was viewed as a success for a little-known state senator.[17].

For the next four years, Carter returned to his agriculture business and carefully planned for his next campaign for Governor in 1970, making over 1,800 speeches throughout the state.

During his 1970 campaign, he ran an uphill populist campaign in the Democratic primary against former Governor Carl Sanders, labeling his opponent "Cufflinks Carl". Carter was never a segregationist, and refused to join the segregationist White Citizens' Council, prompting a boycott of his peanut warehouse. He also had been one of only two families which voted to admit blacks to the Plains Baptist Church.[18] However, he "said things the segregationists wanted to hear", according to historian E. Stanly Godbold.[19] Also, Carter's campaign aides handed out a photograph of his opponent celebrating with black basketball players.[20][21] Following his close victory over Sanders in the primary, he was elected Governor over Republican Hal Suit.

Governor of Georgia

Carter was sworn-in as the 76th Governor of Georgia on January 12, 1971 and held this post for one term, until January 14, 1975. Governors of Georgia were not allowed to succeed themselves at the time. His predecessor as Governor, Lester Maddox, became the Lieutenant Governor. However, Carter and Maddox found little common ground during their four years of service, often publicly feuding with each other.[22][23]

Civil rights politics

Carter declared in his inaugural speech that the time of racial segregation was over, and that racial discrimination had no place in the future of the state. He was the first statewide office holder in the Deep South to say this in public.[citation needed] Afterwards, Carter appointed many African Americans to statewide boards and offices. He was often called one of the "New Southern Governors" – much more moderate than their predecessors, and supportive of racial desegregation and expanding African-Americans' rights.


Although personally opposed to abortion, subsequent to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) Carter supported legalized abortion.[citation needed] He did not support increased federal funding for abortion services as president and was criticized by the ACLU for not doing enough to find alternatives to abortion.[24]

State government reforms

Carter improved government efficiency by merging about 300 state agencies into 30 agencies. One of his aides recalled that Governor Carter "was right there with us, working just as hard, digging just as deep into every little problem. It was his program and he worked on it as hard as anybody, and the final product was distinctly his." He also pushed reforms through the legislature, providing equal state aid to schools in the wealthy and poor areas of Georgia, set up community centers for mentally handicapped children, and increased educational programs for convicts. Carter took pride in a program he introduced for the appointment of judges and state government officials. Under this program, all such appointments were based on merit, rather than political influence.

Vice-Presidential aspirations in 1972

In 1972, as U.S. Senator George McGovern of South Dakota was marching toward the Democratic nomination for President, Carter called a news conference in Atlanta to warn that McGovern was unelectable. Carter criticized McGovern as too liberal on both foreign and domestic policy, yet when McGovern's nomination became a foregone conclusion, Carter lobbied to become his vice-presidential running mate. The remarks attracted little national attention, and after McGovern's huge loss in the general election, Carter's attitude was not held against him[citation needed] within the Democratic Party.

During the 1972 Democratic National Convention he endorsed the candidacy of Senator Henry M. Jackson of Washington.[25] However, Carter received 30 votes at the Democratic National Convention in the chaotic ballot for Vice President. McGovern offered the second spot to Reubin Askew, from next door Florida and one of the "new southern governors", but he declined.

Death penalty and crime

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Georgia's death penalty law in 1972, Carter quickly proposed state legislation to replace the death penalty with life in prison (an option which previously didn't exist).[26]

When the legislature passed a new death penalty statute, Carter signed new legislation on March 28, 1973[27] to authorize the death penalty for murder, rape and other offenses, and to implement trial procedures which would conform to the newly-announced constitutional requirements. In 1976, the Supreme Court upheld Georgia's new death penalty for murder; in the case of Coker v. Georgia, the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional as applied to rape.

Despite his earlier support, Carter soon became a death penalty opponent, and during Presidential campaigns (like previous nominee George McGovern and two successive nominees, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis), this was noted.[28]

Currently, Carter is known for his outspoken opposition to the death penalty in all forms; in his Nobel Prize lecture, he urged "prohibition of the death penalty."[29]

Many in America were outraged by William Calley's life sentence at Fort Benning for his role in the My Lai Massacre; Carter instituted "American Fighting Man's Day" and asked Georgians to drive for a week with their lights on in support of Calley.[30] Indiana's governor asked all state flags to be flown at half-staff for Calley, and Utah's and Mississippi's governors also disagreed with the verdict.[30]

United States Senate appointment

Richard Russell, Jr., then-President pro tempore of the United States Senate, died in office on January 21, 1971. Carter, only nine days into his governorship, appointed state Democratic Party chair David H. Gambrell to fill an unexpired Russell term in the Senate on February 1.[31] Gambrell was defeated in the next Democratic primary by the more conservative Sam Nunn.

Other activities

In 1973, while Governor of Georgia, Carter filed a report on his 1969 UFO sighting with the International UFO Bureau in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.[32][33][34] However, in 2007, Carter stated that he did not remember why he filed the report and that he believes he probably only did it at the request of one of his children. He also stated he does not believe it was an alien spacecraft, but rather believes it was likely some sort of military experiment being conducted from a nearby military base. [35]

Carter made an appearance as the first guest of the evening on an episode of the game show What's My Line in 1974, signing in as "X", lest his name give away his occupation. After his job was identified on question seven of ten by Gene Shalit, he talked about having brought movie production to the state of Georgia, citing Deliverance, and the then-unreleased The Longest Yard.

In 1974, Carter was chairman of the Democratic National Committee's congressional, as well as gubernatorial, campaigns.

1976 presidential campaign

When Carter entered the Democratic Party presidential primaries in 1976, he was considered to have little chance against nationally better-known politicians. He had a name recognition of only two percent. When he told his family of his intention to run for President, his mother asked, "President of what?" However, the Watergate scandal was still fresh in the voters' minds, and so his position as an outsider, distant from Washington, D.C., became an asset. The centerpiece of his campaign platform was government reorganization.

The electoral map of the 1976 election

Carter became the front-runner early on by winning the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. He used a two-prong strategy: In the South, which most had tacitly conceded to Alabama's George Wallace, Carter ran as a moderate favorite son. When Wallace proved to be a spent force, Carter swept the region. In the North, Carter appealed largely to conservative Christian and rural voters and had little chance of winning a majority in most states. He won several Northern states by building the largest single bloc. Carter's strategy involved reaching a region before another candidate could extend influence there. He traveled over 50,000 miles, visited 37 states, and delivered over 200 speeches before any other candidates even announced that they were in the race.[36] Initially dismissed as a regional candidate, Carter proved to be the only Democrat with a truly national strategy, and he eventually clinched the nomination.

The media discovered and promoted Carter, as Lawrence Shoup noted in his 1980 book The Carter Presidency and Beyond:

"What Carter had that his opponents did not was the acceptance and support of elite sectors of the mass communications media. It was their favorable coverage of Carter and his campaign that gave him an edge, propelling him rocket-like to the top of the opinion polls. This helped Carter win key primary election victories, enabling him to rise from an obscure public figure to President-elect in the short space of 9 months."

Carter was interviewed by Robert Scheer of Playboy for its November 1976 issue, which hit the newsstands a couple of weeks before the election. It was here that in the course of a digression on his religion's view of pride, Carter admitted that "I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times."[37] He remains the only American president to be interviewed by this magazine.

As late as January 26, 1976, Carter was the first choice of only four percent of Democratic voters, according to a Gallup poll. Yet "by mid-March 1976 Carter was not only far ahead of the active contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, he also led President Ford by a few percentage points", according to Shoup.

He chose Senator Walter F. Mondale as his running mate. He attacked Washington in his speeches, and offered a religious salve for the nation's wounds.[38]

Carter began the race with a sizable lead over Ford, who was able to narrow the gap over the course of the campaign, but was unable to prevent Carter from narrowly defeating him on November 2, 1976. Carter won the popular vote by 50.1 percent to 48.0 percent for Ford and received 297 electoral votes to Ford's 240. He became the first contender from the Deep South to be elected President since the 1848 election.

Presidency - 1977–1981

Official White House portrait of Jimmy Carter

Carter was elected over Gerald Ford in 1976. His tenure was a time of continuing inflation and recession, as well as an energy crisis. On January 7, 1980, Carter signed Law H.R. 5860 aka Public Law 96-185 known as The Chrysler Corporation Loan Guarantee Act of 1979 bailing out Chrysler Corporation. While attempting to calm various conflicts around the World, most visibly in the Mid-East, the final year of his administration was marred by the Iran hostage crisis which contributed to his loss in his 1980 campaign for re-election to Ronald Reagan.


In 1981, Carter returned to Georgia to his peanut farm, which he had placed into a blind trust during his presidency to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. Unfortunately, he found that the trustees had mismanaged the trust, leaving him over one million dollars in debt. In the years that followed, he has led an active life, establishing The Carter Center, building his presidential library, teaching at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and writing numerous books.[38]


Carter's presidency has received mixed assessments from scholars and historians. In historical rankings of U.S. presidents, the Carter presidency has ranged from #19 to #34. Although Carter's presidency received mixed reviews, his all-around peace keeping and humanitarian efforts since he left office have led him to be widely renowned as one of the most successful ex-presidents in U.S. history. [39][40]

Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale are the longest-living post-presidential team in American history. On December 11, 2006, they had been out of office for 25 years and 325 days, surpassing the former record established by President John Adams and Vice President Thomas Jefferson, who both died on July 4, 1826.

Public image

Carter is widely considered a better man than he was a president.[41] While he began his term with a 66% approval rating,[42] this had dropped to 34% approval by the time he left office, with 55% disapproving. [43]

Much of this image in the public eye results from the Presidents proximate to him in history.[44] In the wake of Nixon's Watergate Scandal, exit polls from the 1976 Presidential election suggested that many still held Gerald Ford's pardon of Nixon against him,[45] and Carter by comparison seemed a sincere, honest, and well-meaning Southerner.[41]

Carter's administration suffered from inexperience in politics: Carter paid too much attention to detail, was quick to retreat under fire, seemed indecisive, and did not define his priorities clearly. He seemed uninterested in working with other groups, or even with Congress controlled by his own party, which he denounced for being controlled by special interest groups.[44] Though he made efforts to address many of these issues in 1978, the approval he won from his reforms did not last long.

When Carter ran for reelection, Ronald Reagan's nonchalant self-confidence contrasted to Carter's serious and introspective temperament. Carter's personal attention to detail, seeming indecisiveness and weakness with people was also accentuated by Reagan's charm and easy delegation of tasks to subordinates.[46][44] Ultimately, the combination of the economic problems, Iran hostage crisis, and lack of Washington cooperation made it easy for Reagan to portray him as an ineffectual leader, causing Carter to become the first president since 1932 to lose a reelection bid, and his presidency was largely considered a failure.

Notwithstanding perceptions while Carter was in office, his reputation has much improved. Carter's presidential approval rating, which sat at 31% just prior to the 1980 election, was polled in early 2009 at 64%.[47] Carter's continued post-Presidency activities have also been favorably received. Carter explains that a great deal of this change was owed to Reagan's successor, George H. W. Bush, who actively sought him out and was far more courteous and interested in his advice than Reagan had been.[41]

The Carter Center

Jimmy Carter (far right) in 1991 with President George H. W. Bush and former Presidents Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan at the dedication of the Reagan Presidential Library
Jimmy Carter (far right) with President George W. Bush, President-Elect Barack Obama and former Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, White House, January 7, 2009

As President, Carter expressed a goal of making government "competent and compassionate." In pursuit of that vision, he has been involved in a variety of national and international public policy, conflict resolution, human rights and charitable causes.

In 1982, he established The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, to advance human rights and alleviate unnecessary human suffering. The non-profit, nongovernmental Center promotes democracy, mediates and prevents conflicts, and monitors the electoral process in support of free and fair elections. It also works to improve global health through the control and eradication of diseases such as Guinea worm disease, river blindness, malaria, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, and schistosomiasis. It also works to diminish the stigma against mental illnesses and improve nutrition through increased crop production in Africa. A major accomplishment of The Carter Center has been the elimination of more than 99 percent of cases of Guinea worm disease, a debilitating parasite that has existed since ancient times, from an estimated 3.5 million cases in 1986 to fewer than 10,000 cases in 2007.[48] The Carter Center has monitored 70 elections in 28 countries since 1989.[49] It has worked to resolve conflicts in Haiti, Bosnia, Ethiopia, North Korea, Sudan and other countries. Carter and the Center actively support human rights defenders around the world and have intervened with heads of state on their behalf.

Nobel Peace Prize

In 2002, President Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work "to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development" through The Carter Center.[50] He was the third U.S. President, after Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, to be awarded the Prize. Carter shares with Martin Luther King, Jr., the distinction of being the only native Georgians to be so honored.


North Korea

In 1994, North Korea had expelled investigators from the International Atomic Energy Agency and was threatening to begin processing spent nuclear fuel. In response then-President Clinton pressured for US sanctions and ordered large amounts of troops and vehicles into the area to brace for war.

Bill Clinton secretly recruited Carter to undertake a peace mission to North Korea.[51] under the guise that it was a private mission of Carter's. Clinton saw Carter as a way to let North Korean President Kim Il-sung back down without losing face.[52]

Carter negotiated an understanding with Kim Il-sung, but went further and outlined a treaty which he announced on CNN without the permission of the Clinton White House as a way to force the US into action. The Clinton Administration signed a later version of the Agreed Framework, under which North Korea agreed to freeze and ultimately dismantle its current nuclear program and comply with its nonproliferation obligations in exchange for oil deliveries, the construction of two light water reactors to replace its graphite reactors, and discussions for eventual diplomatic relations.

The agreement was widely hailed at the time as a significant diplomatic achievement. However, in December 2002, the Agreed Framework collapsed as a result of a dispute between the George W. Bush Administration and the North Korean government of Kim Jong-il. In 2001, President George W. Bush had taken a confrontational position toward North Korea and, in January 2002, named it as part of an "Axis of Evil." Meanwhile, North Korea began developing the capability to enrich uranium. Bush Administration opponents of the Agreed Framework believed that the North Korean government never intended to give up a nuclear weapons program, but supporters believed that the agreement could have been successful and was undermined.[53]

Middle East

Carter and experts from The Carter Center assisted unofficial Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in designing a model agreement for peace – called the Geneva Accord – in 2002-2003.[54]

Carter has also in recent years become a frequent critic of Israel's policies in Lebanon, West Bank and Gaza.[55][56]

In April 2008, the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat reported that Carter met with exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on his visit to Syria. The Carter Center initially did not confirm nor deny the story. The U.S. State Department considers Hamas a terrorist organization.[57] Within this Mid-East trip, Carter also laid a wreath on the grave of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah on April 14, 2008.[58] Carter said on April 23, 2008 that neither Condoleezza Rice nor anyone else in State Department had warned him against meeting with Hamas leaders during his trip.[59] Carter spoke to Mashaal on several matters, including "formulas for prisoner exchange to obtain the release of Corporal Shalit".[60]

In May 2008, while arguing that the United States should directly talk to Iran, Carter stated that Israel has 150 nuclear weapons in its arsenal.[61]

In December 2008, Carter visited Damascus again, where he met with Syrian President Bashar Assad, and the Hamas leadership. During his visit he gave an exclusive interview to Forward Magazine, the first ever interview for any American president, current or former, with a Syrian media outlet.[62] [63]


Carter held summits in Egypt and Tunisia in 1995-1996 to address violence in the Great Lakes region of Africa.[64]

Carter played a key role in negotiation of the Nairobi Agreement in 1999 between Sudan and Uganda.[65]

On July 18, 2007, Carter joined Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa, to announce his participation in a new humanitarian organization called The Elders. In October 2007, Carter toured Darfur with several of The Elders, including Desmond Tutu. Sudanese security prevented him from visiting a Darfuri tribal leader, leading to a heated exchange.[66]

On June 18, 2007, Carter, accompanied by his wife, arrived in Dublin, Ireland, for talks with President Mary McAleese and Bertie Ahern concerning human rights. On June 19, Carter attended and spoke at the annual Human Rights Forum at Croke Park. An agreement between Irish Aid and The Carter Center was also signed on this day.

In November 2008, President Carter, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and Graca Machel, wife of Nelson Mandela, were stopped from entering Zimbabwe, to inspect the human rights situation, by President Robert Mugabe's government.

The Americas

Carter led a mission to Haiti in 1994 with Senator Sam Nunn and the then former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell to avert a U.S.-led multinational invasion and restore to power Haiti's democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.[67]

Carter visited Cuba in May 2002 and had full discussions with Fidel Castro and the Cuban government. He was allowed to address the Cuban public uncensored on national television and radio with a speech that he wrote and presented in Spanish. In the speech he called on the United States to end "an ineffective 43-year-old economic embargo" and on Castro to hold free elections, improve human rights, and allow greater civil liberties.[68] He met with political dissidents, visited the AIDS sanitarium, a medical school, a biotech facility, an agricultural production cooperative, and a school for disabled children, and threw a pitch for an all-star baseball game in Havana. This made Carter the first President of the United States, in or out of office, to visit the island since the Cuban revolution of 1959.[69]

Carter observed the Venezuela recall elections on August 15, 2004. European Union observers had declined to participate, saying too many restrictions were put on them by the Hugo Chávez administration.[70] A record number of voters turned out to defeat the recall attempt with a 59% "no" vote.[71] The Carter Center stated that the process "suffered from numerous irregularities, but said it did not observe or receive "evidence of fraud that would have changed the outcome of the vote."[72] On the afternoon of August 16, 2004, the day after the vote, Carter and Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General César Gaviria gave a joint press conference in which they endorsed the preliminary results announced by the National Electoral Council. The monitors' findings "coincided with the partial returns announced today by the National Elections Council" said Carter, while Gaviria added that the OAS electoral observation mission's members had "found no element of fraud in the process". Directing his remarks at opposition figures who made claims of "widespread fraud" in the voting, Carter called on all Venezuelans to "accept the results and work together for the future".[73] However, a Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB) exit poll had predicted that Chávez would lose by 20 percent; when the election results showed him to have won by 20 percent, Schoen commented, "I think it was a massive fraud".[74] US News and World Report offered an analysis of the polls, indicating "very good reason to believe that the (Penn, Schoen & Berland) exit poll had the result right, and that Chávez's election officials – and Carter and the American media – got it wrong". The Schoen exit poll and the government's programming of election machines became the basis of claims of election fraud. Indymedia, citing the Associated Press, reports that Penn, Schoen & Berland used Súmate (pro-recall) volunteers for fieldwork, and its results contradicted five other opposition exit polls.[75]

Following Ecuador's severing of ties with Colombia in March 2008, Carter brokered a deal for agreement between the countries' respective presidents on the restoration of low-level diplomatic relations announced June 8, 2008.[76][77]

Criticism of U.S. Policy

In 2001, Carter criticized President Bill Clinton's controversial pardon of Marc Rich, calling it "disgraceful" and suggesting that Rich's financial contributions to the Democratic Party were a factor in Clinton's action.[78]

Carter has also criticized the presidency of George W. Bush and the Iraq War. In a 2003 New York Times editorial, Carter warned against the consequences of a war in Iraq and urged restraint in use of military force.[79] In March 2004, Carter condemned George W. Bush and Tony Blair for waging an unnecessary war "based upon lies and misinterpretations" in order to oust Saddam Hussein. In August 2006, Carter criticized Blair for being "subservient" to the Bush administration and accused Blair of giving unquestioning support to Bush's Iraq policies.[80] In a May 2007 interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, he said, "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history," when it comes to foreign affairs.[81] [82] However, two days after the quote was published, Carter told NBC's Today that the "worst in history" comment was "careless or misinterpreted", and that he "wasn't comparing this administration with other administrations back through history, but just with President Nixon's."[83] The day after the "worst in history" comment was published, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said that Carter had become "increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments."[84]

On May 19, 2007, Blair made his final visit to Iraq before stepping down as British Prime Minister, and Carter used the occasion to criticize him once again. Carter told the BBC that Blair was "apparently subservient" to Bush and criticised him for his "blind support" for the Iraq war.[85] Carter described Blair's actions as "abominable" and stated that the British Prime Minister's "almost undeviating support for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world." Carter said he believes that had Blair distanced himself from the Bush administration during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, it may have made a crucial difference to American political and public opinion, and consequently the invasion might not have gone ahead. Carter states that "one of the defenses of the Bush administration... has been, okay, we must be more correct in our actions than the world thinks because Great Britain is backing us. So I think the combination of Bush and Blair giving their support to this tragedy in Iraq has strengthened the effort and has made the opposition less effective, and prolonged the war and increased the tragedy that has resulted." Carter expressed his hope that Blair's successor Gordon Brown would be "less enthusiastic" about Bush's Iraq policy.[85]

In June 2005, Carter urged the closing of the Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba, which has been a focal point for recent claims of prisoner abuse.[86]

In September 2006, Carter was interviewed on the BBC's current affairs program Newsnight, voicing his concern at the increasing influence of the Religious Right on U.S. politics.[87]

Due to his status as former President, Carter was a superdelegate to the Democratic National Convention. On June 3, 2008, Carter announced his endorsement of Senator (now president) Barack Obama.

Speaking to the English Monthly Forward Magazine of Syria, Carter was asked to give one word that came to mind when mentioning President George Bush. His answer was: the end of a very disappointing administration. His reaction to mentioning Barack Obama was: Honesty, intelligence, and politically adept.[88]

Carter continues to speak out against the death penalty in the U.S. and abroad. Most recently, in his letter to Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson he urged him to sign a bill to eliminate death penalty and institute life in prison without parole insetad. The bill is already passed by state House and Senate. Carter wrote: As you know, the United States is one of the few countries, along with nations such as Saudi Arabia, China, and Cuba, which still carry out the death penalty despite the ongoing tragedy of wrongful conviction and gross racial and class-based disparities that make impossible the fair implementation of this ultimate punishment[89].

Carter also called for commutations of death sentences for many death row inmates, including Brian K. Baldwin (executed in 1999 in Alabama)[90], Kenneth Foster (sentence in Texas commuted in 2007)[91][92] or Troy Anthony Davis (Georgia, case pending)[93].


Carter at a book signing in Phoenix, Arizona

Carter has been a prolific author in his post-presidency, writing 21 of his 23 books. Among these is one he co-wrote with his wife, Rosalynn, and a children's book illustrated by his daughter, Amy. They cover a variety of topics, including humanitarian work, aging, religion, human rights, and poetry.

Palestine Peace Not Apartheid

In his book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, published in November 2006, Carter states that "Israel's continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land."[94] While he recognizes that Arab citizens in Israel proper have equal rights,[95] he declares that Israel's current policies in the Palestinian territories constitute "a system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land, but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights."[94] In an Op-Ed entitled "Speaking Frankly about Israel and Palestine", published in the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers, Carter states: "The ultimate purpose of my book is to present facts about the Middle East that are largely unknown in America, to precipitate discussion and to help restart peace talks (now absent for six years) that can lead to permanent peace for Israel and its neighbors. Another hope is that Jews and other Americans who share this same goal might be motivated to express their views, even publicly, and perhaps in concert. I would be glad to help with that effort."[96] While some have praised Carter for speaking frankly about Palestinians in Israeli occupied lands, others - including the envoy to the Middle East under Clinton, as well as the first director of the Carter Center [97] [98]- have accused him of anti-Israeli bias. Specifically, these critics have alleged significant factual errors, omissions and misstatements in the book.[99][100] Apparently angered by Carter's book, Israeli security refused to provide Carter protection during the first part of an April 2008 visit.[101] The 2007 documentary film, "Man from Plains", follows President Carter during his tour for the controversial book and other Humanitarian Efforts.[102]

Faith, family, and community

Carter in Plains, 2008.

Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, are also well-known for their work as volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, a Georgia-based philanthropy that helps low income working people to build and purchase their own homes.

He teaches Sunday school and is a deacon in the Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown of Plains, Georgia.[103] In 2000, Carter severed ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, saying the group's doctrines did not align with his Christian beliefs.[104] In April 2006, Carter, former-President Bill Clinton and Mercer University President Bill Underwood initiated the New Baptist Covenant. The broadly inclusive movement seeks to unite Baptists of all races, cultures and convention affiliations. Eighteen Baptist leaders representing more than 20 million Baptists across North America backed the group as an alternative to the Southern Baptist Convention. The group held its first meeting in Atlanta, January 30 through February 1, 2008.[105]

Carter's hobbies include fly-fishing, woodworking, cycling, tennis, and skiing.

The Carters have three sons, one daughter, eight grandsons, three granddaughters, and one great-grandson.

Honors and awards

President Carter holding up a model of the submarine that carries his name
President Carter (right), walks with, from left, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton during the dedication of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock, Arkansas, November 18, 2004

Carter has received honorary degrees from many American and foreign colleges and universities. They include:

Among the honors Carter has received are the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. Others include:

  • Freedom of the City of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, 1977
  • Silver Buffalo Award, Boy Scouts of America, 1978
  • Gold medal, International Institute for Human Rights, 1979
  • International Mediation medal, American Arbitration Association, 1979
  • Martin Luther King, Jr., Nonviolent Peace Prize, 1979
  • International Human Rights Award, Synagogue Council of America, 1979
  • Conservationist of the Year Award, 1979
  • Harry S. Truman Public Service Award, 1981
  • Ansel Adams Conservation Award, Wilderness Society, 1982
  • Human Rights Award, International League of Human Rights, 1983
  • World Methodist Peace Award, 1985
  • Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, 1987
  • Edwin C. Whitehead Award, National Center for Health Education, 1989
  • Jefferson Award, American Institute of Public Service, 1990
  • Liberty Medal, National Constitution Center, 1990
  • Spirit of America Award, National Council for the Social Studies, 1990
  • Physicians for Social Responsibility Award, 1991
  • Aristotle Prize, Alexander S. Onassis Foundation, 1991
  • W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, 1992
  • Spark M. Matsunaga Medal of Peace, US Institute of Peace, 1993
  • Humanitarian Award, CARE International, 1993
  • Conservationist of the Year Medal, National Wildlife Federation, 1993
  • Rotary Award for World Understanding, 1994
  • J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding, 1994
  • National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Award, 1994
  • UNESCO Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize, 1994
  • Great Cross of the Order of Vasco Nunéz de Balboa, Panama, 1995
  • Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Award, Africare, 1996
  • Humanitarian of the Year, GQ Awards, 1996
  • Kiwanis International Humanitarian Award, 1996
  • Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development, 1997
  • Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Awards for Humanitarian Contributions to the Health of Humankind, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, 1997
  • United Nations Human Rights Award, 1998
  • The Hoover Medal, 1998
  • The Delta Prize for Global Understanding, University of Georgia, 1999
  • International Child Survival Award, UNICEF Atlanta, 1999
  • William Penn Mott, Jr., Park Leadership Award, National Parks Conservation Association, 2000
  • Zayed International Prize for the Environment, 2001
  • Jonathan M. Daniels Humanitarian Award, VMI, 2001
  • Herbert Hoover Humanitarian Award, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, 2001
  • Christopher Award, 2002
  • Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, 2007[106]
  • Berkeley Medal, University of California campus, May 2, 2007

In 1998, the U.S. Navy named the third and last Seawolf-class submarine for President Carter, himself a former Naval officer. It became one of the first U.S. Navy vessels to be named for a person living at the time of naming.[107]

Carter has participated in many ceremonial events such as the opening of his own presidential library and those of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. He has also participated in many forums, lectures, panels, funerals and other events. Carter delivered a eulogy at the funeral of Coretta Scott King and, most recently, at the funeral of his former political rival, but later his close, personal friend and diplomatic collaborator, Gerald Ford. Whether Carter will be included in the Presidential $1 Coin Program depends on whether he is still alive in 2014.

Carter intends to be buried in front of his home in Plains, Georgia. In contrast, most Presidents since Herbert Hoover have been buried at their presidential library or presidential museum, with the exception of John F. Kennedy, who is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Lyndon B. Johnson, who is buried at his own ranch, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, who is buried in the Rose Garden of his home in Hyde Park, New York. Both President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, were born in Plains. Carter also noted that a funeral in Washington, D.C. with visitation at the Carter Center is being planned as well.[108]


Carter is a member of The X-Presidents, a superhero team from the Saturday Night Live TV program.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ "Jimmy Carter". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Georgia Humanities Council. http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-676. Retrieved on 2007-12-09. 
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  3. ^ "Jimmy Carter". USA-Presidents.org. http://www.usa-presidents.info/carter.htm. 
  4. ^ "National FFA Organization: Prominent Former Members" (PDF). National FFA Organization. http://www.ffa.org/documents/about_prominentmembers.pdf. 
  5. ^ DeGregorio, William A. (2005). The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents.. Volume 1. Fort Lee: Barricade Books. 
  6. ^ Hayward, Steven F. (2004). The Real Jimmy Carter: How Our Worst Ex-President Undermines American. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing. ISBN 0895260905. http://books.google.com/books?id=UEGPFXrScoIC&pg=PA20&lpg=PA20&dq=jimmy+carter+submarine+overboard&source=web&ots=9n-MWEDXCU&sig=pzsKSE1nPr_8Hl4HRY5ZxvGgPg8. 
  7. ^ PBS's American Experience Jimmy Carter
  8. ^ Reactor Accidents: The Human Fallout
  9. ^ American Experience | Jimmy Carter | Timeline
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  11. ^ http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq60-14.htm
  12. ^ Atomic Insights Blog: Picking on the Jimmy Carter myth
  13. ^ New Crop of Governors - TIME
  14. ^ Carter, Jimmy; Richardson, Don (1998). Conversations with Carter. Lynne Rienner Publishers. p. 14. ISBN 1555878016. 
  15. ^ http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?path=/GovernmentPolitics/Politics/PoliticalFigures&id=h-676
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  18. ^ People & Events: James Earl ("Jimmy") Carter Jr. (1924–) - American Experience, PBS, accessed March 18, 2006.
  19. ^ American Experience | Jimmy Carter | Transcript
  20. ^ The Claremont Institute - Malaise Forever
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  23. ^ Race Matters - Lester Maddox, Segregationist and Georgia Governor, Dies at 87
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  106. ^ Presidents who have won Grammies | UpVenue
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Further reading

  • Allen, Gary. Jimmy Carter, Jimmy Carter, '76 Press, 1976.
  • Berggren, D. Jason and Rae, Nicol C. "Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush: Faith, Foreign Policy, and an Evangelical Presidential Style." Presidential Studies Quarterly 2006 36(4): 606-632. Issn: 0360-4918 Fulltext: in Swetswise and Ingenta
  • Busch, Andrew E. Reagan's Victory: The Presidential Election of 1980 and the Rise of the Right, (2005) online review by Michael Barone
  • Califano, Joseph A., Jr. Governing America: An insider's report from the White House and the Cabinet. 1981
  • Freedman, Robert. "The Religious Right and the Carter Administration." Historical Journal 2005 48(1): 231-260. Issn: 0018-246x Fulltext: in Swetswise
  • Jordan, Hamilton. Crisis: The Last Year of the Carter Presidency. 1982
  • Lance, Bert. The Truth of the Matter: My Life in and out of Politics. 1991
  • New York Times article TOPICS; Thermostatic Legacy, January 1, 1981, Thursday (NYT); Editorial Desk Late City Final Edition, Section 1, Page 18, Column 1
  • Harris, David [3] (2004). The Crisis: the President, the Prophet, and the Shah—1979 and the Coming of Militant Islam. Little, Brown. 
  • Regarding the failed Iranian mission to rescue the American hostages
  • Bourne, Peter G. (1997). Jimmy Carter: A Comprehensive Biography From Plains to Post-Presidency. New York: Scribner. ISBN 0-684-19543-7. 
  • Clymer, Kenton. "Jimmy Carter, Human Rights, and Cambodia." Diplomatic History 2003 27(2): 245-278. Issn: 0145-2096 Fulltext: in Swetswise, Ingenta and Ebsco
  • Dumbrell, John (1995). The Carter Presidency: A Re-evaluation (2nd ed. ed.). Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-4693-9. 
  • Fink, Gary M.; and Hugh Davis Graham (eds.) (1998). The Carter Presidency: Policy Choices in the Post-New Deal Era. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-0895-8. 
  • Flint, Andrew R.; and Joy Porter (March 2005). "Jimmy Carter: The re-emergence of faith-based politics and the abortion rights issue". Presidential Studies Quarterly 35 (1): 28–51. doi:10.1111/j.1741-5705.2004.00234.x. 
  • Gillon, Steven M. (1992). The Democrats' Dilemma: Walter F. Mondale and the Liberal Legacy. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-07630-4. 
  • Glad, Betty (1980). Jimmy Carter: In Search of the Great White House. New York: W. W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-07527-3. 
  • Hahn, Dan F. (1992). "The rhetoric of Jimmy Carter, 1976–1980". in in Theodore Windt and Beth Ingold. Essays in Presidential Rhetoric (3rd ed. ed.). Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt. pp. 331–365. ISBN 0-8403-7568-9. 
  • Hargrove, Erwin C. (1988). Jimmy Carter as President: Leadership and the Politics of the Public Good. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 0-8071-1499-5. 
  • Jones, Charles O. (1988). The Trusteeship Presidency: Jimmy Carter and the United States Congress. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 0-8071-1426-X. 
  • Jorden, William J. (1984). Panama Odyssey. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-76469-3. 
  • Kaufman, Burton I. (1993). The Presidency of James Earl Carter, Jr. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-0572-X. 
  • Kucharsky, David (1976). The Man From Plains: The Mind and Spirit of Jimmy Carter. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-064891-0. 
  • Morgan, Iwan. "Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and the New Democratic Economics." Historical Journal 2004 47(4): 1015-1039. Issn: 0018-246x Fulltext: in Swetswise
  • Ribuffo, Leo P. (1989). "God and Jimmy Carter". in in M. L. Bradbury and James B. Gilbert. Transforming Faith: The Sacred and Secular in Modern American History. New York: Greenwood Press. pp. 141–159. ISBN 0-313-25707-8. 
  • Ribuffo, Leo P. (1997). "'Malaise' revisited: Jimmy Carter and the crisis of confidence". in in John Patrick Diggins (ed.). The Liberal Persuasion: Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and the Challenge of the American Past. Princeton: Princeton University Press. pp. 164–185. ISBN 0-691-04829-0. 
  • Rosenbaum, Herbert D.; and Alexej Ugrinsky (eds.) (1994). The Presidency and Domestic Policies of Jimmy Carter. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. pp. 83–116. ISBN 0-313-28845-3. 
  • Schram, Martin (1977). Running for President, 1976: The Carter Campaign. New York: Stein and Day. ISBN 0-8128-2245-5. 
  • Schmitz, David F. and Walker, Vanessa. "Jimmy Carter and the Foreign Policy of Human Rights: the Development of a Post-cold War Foreign Policy." Diplomatic History 2004 28(1): 113-143. Issn: 0145-2096 Fulltext: in Swetswise, Ingenta and Ebsco
  • Strong, Robert A. (Fall 1986). "Recapturing leadership: The Carter administration and the crisis of confidence". Presidential Studies Quarterly 16 (3): 636–650. ISSN 0360-4918. 
  • Strong, Robert A. (2000). Working in the World: Jimmy Carter and the Making of American Foreign Policy. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 0-8071-2445-1. 
  • White, Theodore H. (1982). America in Search of Itself: The Making of the President, 1956–1980. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-039007-7. 
  • Witcover, Jules (1977). Marathon: The Pursuit of the Presidency, 1972–1976. New York: Viking Press. ISBN 0-670-45461-3. 

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Political offices
Preceded by
Lester Maddox
Governor of Georgia
1971 – 1975
Succeeded by
George Busbee
Preceded by
Gerald Ford
President of the United States
January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981
Succeeded by
Ronald Reagan
Georgia Senate
Preceded by
Georgia State Senator from 14th district
January 1963 – January 1967
Succeeded by
Hugh Carter (D)
Party political offices
Preceded by
George McGovern
Democratic Party Presidential Nominee
1976, 1980
Succeeded by
Walter Mondale
Order of precedence in the United States of America
Preceded by
John G. Roberts
Chief Justice of the United States
United States order of precedence
Former President of the United States
Succeeded by
George H. W. Bush
Former President of the United States
NAME Carter, Jimmy
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Carter, James Earl, Jr.
SHORT DESCRIPTION President of the United States
DATE OF BIRTH October 1, 1924 (1924-10-01) (age 84)
PLACE OF BIRTH Plains, Georgia, United States

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