Jimmy Carter - Thirty-ninth President of the United States

Jimmy Carter - 39th President of the United States
Jimmy Carter - 39th President of the United States. Bettmann / Getty Images

Jimmy Carter's Childhood and Education:

James Earl Carter was born on October 1, 1924 in Plains, Georgia. He grew up in Archery, Georgia. His father was a local public official. Jimmy grew up working in the fields to help bring in money. He attended public schools in Plains, Georgia. After high school, he attended Georgia Institute of Technology before being accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy in 1943 from which he graduated in 1946.

Family Ties:

Carter was the son of James Earl Carter, Sr., a farmer and public official and Bessie Lillian Gordy, a Peace Corps volunteer. He had two sisters, Gloria and Ruth, and a brother, Billy. On July 7, 1946, Carter married Eleanor Rosalynn Smith. She was his sister Ruth's best friend. Together they had three sons and one daughter. His daughter, Amy, was a child while Carter was in the White House.

Military Service:

Carter joined the navy from 1946-53. He began as an ensign. He attended submarine school and was stationed aboard the submarine Pomfret. He was then placed in 1950 on an anti-sub submarine. He then went on to study nuclear physics and was chosen to serve as an engineering officer on one of the first atomic submarines. He resigned from the navy in 1953 upon the death of his father.

Career Before the Presidency:

After leaving the military in 1953, he returned to Plains, Georgia to help on the farm upon his father's death.

He expanded the peanut business to the point of making him very wealthy. Carter served in the Georgia State Senate from 1963-67. In 1971, Carter became the governor of Georgia. In 1976, he was the dark horse candidate for president. The campaign centered around Ford's pardon of Nixon. Carter won by a narrow margin with 50% of the vote and 297 out of 538 electoral votes.

Becoming the President:

Carter declared his candidacy for the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination in 1974. He ran with the idea of restoring trust after the debacle of Watergate. He was opposed by Republican President Gerald Ford. The vote was very close with Carter winning 50% of the popular vote and 297 out of 538 electoral votes.

Events and Accomplishments of Jimmy Carter’s Presidency:

On Carter's first day in office, he issued a pardon for all those who dodged the draft in the Vietnam War era. He did not pardon deserters, however. Nonetheless, his actions were offensive to many veterans. 

Energy was a huge issue during Carter's administration. With the Three Mile Island incident, stricter regulations on Nuclear Energy plants were required. Further, the Department of Energy was created.

Much of Carter's time as president was spent dealing with diplomatic issues. In 1978, President Carter invited Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to Camp David for peace talks. This led to a formal peace treaty in 1979. In 1979, diplomatic relations were formally established between China and the U.S.

On November 4, 1979, the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran was seized and 60 Americans were taken hostage.

52 of the hostages were held for more than a year. Carter suspended oil imports from Iran and the UN Security Council called for the release of the hostages. He imposed economic sanctions. He also attempted in 1980 to rescue the hostages. However, three helicopters malfunctioned and they were unable to follow through with the rescue. Eventually, the Ayatollah Khomeini agreed to release the hostages in exchange for unfreezing Iranian assets in the U.S. They were not released, however, until Reagan was president. The hostage crisis was part of the reason that Carter did not win reelection.

Post-Presidential Period:

Carter left the presidency on January 20, 1981 after losing to Ronald Reagan. He retired to Plains, Georgia. He became an important figure in Habitat for Humanity. Carter has been involved in diplomatic endeavors including helping forge an agreement with North Korea.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

Historical Significance:

Carter was president at a time when energy issues came to the forefront. During his time, the Department of Energy was created. Further, the Three Mile Island incident showed possible problems inherent in relying on nuclear energy. Carter is also important for his part in the Middle East peace process with the Camp David Accords in 1972.

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Kelly, Martin. "Jimmy Carter - Thirty-ninth President of the United States." ThoughtCo, Nov. 21, 2016, thoughtco.com/jimmy-carter-39th-president-united-states-104751. Kelly, Martin. (2016, November 21). Jimmy Carter - Thirty-ninth President of the United States. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/jimmy-carter-39th-president-united-states-104751 Kelly, Martin. "Jimmy Carter - Thirty-ninth President of the United States." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/jimmy-carter-39th-president-united-states-104751 (accessed December 11, 2017).