Jimmy Carter (James Earl Carter, Jr.), thirty-ninth president of the United States, was born October 1, 1924, in the small farming town of Plains, Georgia, and grew up in the nearby community of Archery. His father, James Earl Carter, Sr., was a farmer and businessman; his mother, Lillian Gordy Carter, a registered nurse.
James Earl Carter Jr. was born on October 1, 1924 in Plains, Georgia. His father, James Sr., was a hardworking peanut farmer who owned his own small plot of land as well as a warehouse and store. His mother, Bessie Lillian Gordy, was a registered nurse who in the 1920s had crossed racial divides to counsel black women on health care issues.
When Jimmy Carter was four years old, the family relocated to Archery, a town approximately two miles from Plains. It was a sparsely populated and deeply rural town, where mule-drawn wagons remained the dominant mode of transportation and electricity and indoor plumbing were still uncommon. Carter was a studious boy who avoided trouble and began working at his father’s store at the age of ten. His favorite childhood pastime was sitting with his father in the evenings, listening to baseball games and politics on the battery-operated radio.
Education & Marriage
He was educated in the public school of Plains, attended Georgia Southwestern College and the Georgia Institute of Technology, and received a B.S. degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1946. In the Navy he became a submariner, serving in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets and rising to the rank of lieutenant. Chosen by Admiral Hyman Rickover for the nuclear submarine program, he was assigned to Schenectady, New York, where he took graduate work at Union College in reactor technology and nuclear physics and served as senior officer of the pre-commissioning crew of the Seawolf, the second nuclear submarine.
On July 7, 1946, he married Rosalynn Smith of Plains. When his father died in 1953, he resigned his naval commission and returned with his family to Georgia. He took over the Carter farms, and he and Rosalynn operated Carter’s Warehouse, a general-purpose seed and farm supply company in Plains. He quickly became a leader of the community, serving on county boards supervising education, the hospital authority, and the library. In 1962 he won election to the Georgia Senate. He lost his first gubernatorial campaign in 1966, but won the next election, becoming Georgia’s 76th governor on January 12, 1971. He was the Democratic National Committee campaign chairman for the 1974 congressional and gubernatorial elections.
President Jimmy Carter
On December 12, 1974, he announced his candidacy for president of the United States. He won his party’s nomination on the first ballot at the 1976 Democratic National Convention, and was elected president on November 2, 1976.
Jimmy Carter served as president from January 20, 1977 to January 20, 1981. Significant foreign policy accomplishments of his administration included the Panama Canal treaties, the Camp David Accords, the treaty of peace between Egypt and Israel, the SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union, and the establishment of U.S. diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. He championed human rights throughout the world. On the domestic side, the administration’s achievements included a comprehensive energy program conducted by a new Department of Energy; deregulation in energy, transportation, communications, and finance; major educational programs under a new Department of Education; and major environmental protection legislation, including the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.
Books & Accomplishments
Mr. Carter is the author of 32 books, many of which are now in revised editions: Why Not the Best? 1975, 1996; A Government as Good as Its People, 1977, 1996; Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President, 1982, 1995; Negotiation: The Alternative to Hostility, 1984, 2003; The Blood of Abraham: Insights into the Middle East, 1985, 1993, 2007; Everything to Gain: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life, written with Rosalynn Carter, 1987, 1995; An Outdoor Journal: Adventures and Reflections, 1988, 1994; Turning Point: A Candidate, a State, and a Nation Come of Age, 1992; Talking Peace: A Vision for the Next Generation, 1993, 1995; Always a Reckoning, and other Poems, 1995; The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer, illustrated by Amy Carter, 1995; Living Faith, 1996; Sources of Strength: Meditations on Scripture for a Living Faith, 1997; The Virtues of Aging, 1998; An Hour before Daylight: Memories of a Rural Boyhood, 2001; Christmas in Plains: Memories, 2001; The Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, 2002; The Hornet’s Nest: A Novel of the Revolutionary War, 2003; Sharing Good Times, 2004; Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis, 2005; Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, 2006, 2007; Beyond the White House: Waging Peace, Fighting Disease, Building Hope, 2007; A Remarkable Mother, 2008; We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work, 2009; White House Diary, 2010; Through the Year with Jimmy Carter: 366 Daily Meditations from the 39th President, 2011; as general editor, NIV Lessons from the Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter, 2012; A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, 2014; The Paintings of Jimmy Carter, 2014; A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety, 2015; The Craftsmanship of Jimmy Carter, 2018; and Faith: A Journey for All, 2018.
The Carter Center
In 1982, he became University Distinguished Professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and founded The Carter Center. Actively guided by President Carter, the nonpartisan and nonprofit Center addresses national and international issues of public policy. Carter Center staff and associates join with President Carter in efforts to resolve conflict, promote democracy, protect human rights, and prevent disease and other afflictions. The Center has spearheaded the international effort to eradicate Guinea worm disease, which is poised to be the second human disease in history to be eradicated.
President Carter and The Carter Center have engaged in conflict mediation in Ethiopia and Eritrea (1989), North Korea (1994), Liberia (1994), Haiti (1994), Bosnia (1994), Sudan (1995), the Great Lakes region of Africa (1995-96), Sudan and Uganda (1999), Venezuela (2002-2003), Nepal (2004-2008), Ecuador and Colombia (2008), and the Middle East (2003-present). Under his leadership The Carter Center has sent 107 election-observation missions to the Americas, Africa, and Asia. These include Panama (1989), Nicaragua (1990), China (1997), Nigeria (1998), Indonesia (1999), East Timor (1999), Mexico (2000), Guatemala (2003), Venezuela (2004), Ethiopia (2005), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2006), Nepal (2008), Lebanon (2009), Sudan (2010), Tunisia (2011), Egypt (2011-2012), Kenya (2013), Mozambique (2014), Guyana (2015), Myanmar (2016), and Liberia (2017).
The permanent facilities of The Carter Presidential Center were dedicated in October 1986, and include the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum, administered by the National Archives. Also open to visitors is the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains, administered by the National Park Service.
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter volunteer one week a year for Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that helps needy people in the United States and in other countries renovate and build homes for themselves. Since 2007, President Carter also has served as a member of The Elders, a group of independent global leaders. He teaches Sunday school and is a deacon in the Maranatha Baptist Church of Plains. For recreation, he enjoys fly-fishing, woodworking, and swimming. The Carters have three sons, one daughter, nine grandsons (one deceased), three granddaughters, five great-grandsons, and eight great-granddaughters.
On December 10, 2002, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2002 to Mr. Carter “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development”.
On August 12, 2015, Carter underwent surgery to remove a mass from his liver and discovered that he had cancer. In a statement, he said: “Recent liver surgery revealed that I have cancer that now is in other parts of my body. I will be rearranging my schedule as necessary so I can undergo treatment by physicians at Emory Healthcare.”
In early December, Carter officially announced that an examination had revealed no trace of the four brain lesions. Returning to work, he continued polishing off book No. 32, Faith: A Journey for All, which reflects on the importance on spirituality in his own life and its influence in shaping American history.
Making the media rounds to promote the book’s release in late March 2018, Carter discussed some of the political topics du jour, including interviews conducted by alleged mistresses of President Donald Trump. He also dove into more pressing political issues, including the importance of forging stronger relations with North Korea.
On March 21, 2019, Carter became the longest-living U.S. president at 94 years and 172 days old, surpassing the mark established by George H.W. Bush. In May, it was revealed that he had undergone surgery after falling and breaking his hip.
Source: The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library is part of the presidential libraries system administered by the National Archives and Records Administration, a federal agency.