James Earle Carter Jr. was born on October 1, 1924, in Plains, Georgia. Carter’s parents were both devout Christians. They were members of Plains Baptist Church, and Carter was required to attend Sunday school, where his father taught on occasion. Carter attended Plains High School, which was all-white, while the rest of the Black population obtained their education at home or church. Despite the widespread segregation, two of Carter’s closest childhood pals and two of his most essential adults, his nanny Annie Mae Hollis and his father’s worker Jack Clark, were African Americans.
Even though the Great Depression impacted the rural South hard, the Carters prospered during this time, and his father had over 200 laborers on his fields by the late 1930s. Jimmy graduated from high school for the first time on his father’s side of the family in 1941. Jimmy graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1946. Despite this, Carter excelled in school, graduating in the top ten percent of his class in 1946. Carter had reconnected with a girl called Rosalynn Smith while on leave in the summer.
He married Rosalynn Smith, a Plains native, shortly after, and the pair had four children: Amy Carter, Donnel Carter, Jack Carter, and James Carter. James became part of the Navy for seven years, five of which were spent on submarine duty. When Jimmy’s father died in 1953, he was prepared to join the submarine Seawolf as an engineering officer. After a devastating drought, Carter came home and repaired his family’s ailing peanut warehouse company.
Carter was sent to work on submarines by the Navy, and the Carters, like many a military family, traveled about a lot in the early years of their marriage. They proceeded to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, after completing a training program in Norfolk, Virginia, where Carter worked as an electronics officer on the USS Pomfret. Carter was sent to work with Admiral Hyman Rickover establishing a nuclear submarine program at Schenectady, New York, in 1952, after postings to Groton, Connecticut, San Diego, California, and Washington, D.C. Carter was very impressed by the bright and famously demanding admiral.
Despite Rosalynn’s protests, Carter relocated his family to rural Georgia to care for his mother and manage the family’s affairs. Carter resurrected the family farm in Georgia and became involved in local politics. In 1955, he obtained a position on the Sumter County Board of Education and later becoming its chairman.
In the American South, the 1950s were a time of significant transformation. The United States Supreme Court ordered the integration of public schools in the landmark 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education unanimously. Civil rights activists vociferously sought an end to all kinds of racial discrimination in the aftermath of that ruling. However, politics in the rural South generally followed the “Old South’s” regressive racial view. Jimmy Carter was the only white man who boycotted to join the segregationist White Citizens’ Council, and he soon discovered a placard on his front door that said, “Coons and Carters go together.”
Jimmy became part of the Georgia State Senate as a Democrat in 1962. In 1964, he was re-elected. He ran for governor two years later, finishing in a dismal third place. Carter fell into deep despair due to the loss, which he overcomes by rekindling his faith as a born-again Christian. In 1970, he ran for governor again and won. Carter was featured on the cover of Time magazine a year later as part of a new generation of young Southern politicians noted for their moderate racial views and progressive economic and social agendas.
Jimmy Carter concluded that the next President would have to be an outsider after the Watergate affair undermined American faith in Washington politics. On both counts, he believed he fit the bill.
He was one of 10 Democratic presidential contenders in 1976, although he was arguably the least well-known at the time. On the other hand, Carter’s obscurity proved to be an asset at a period of widespread dissatisfaction with established leaders. He ran on centrist issues, including cutting government waste, balancing the budget, and providing government aid to the needy. Carter’s popularity, on the other hand, was built upon his outsider status and his sincerity.
Carter won the Democratic nomination to run against Republican President Gerald Ford, Nixon’s former vice president, who had taken over as President following Nixon’s resignation in the wake of Watergate.
Carter acknowledged committing adultery “in his heart” and made many other sexist statements about sex and infidelity in an interview with Playboy, which alienated many voters. Even though the election was considerably closer than projected, Carter was elected as the 39th President of the United States of America.
He attempted to present himself as a man of the people as President, dressed casually and speaking in a folksy manner. He initiated various ambitious social and economic reform measures, and his cabinet comprised a disproportionately significant number of women and minorities. Although Democrats majorities in the House and Senate, Congress opposed Carter’s proposals for welfare reform and a long-term energy program, both important to his administration’s agenda. Despite his early popularity, Carter could not transform his proposals into legislation due to his strained relationship with Congress.
In 1977, Carter’s public image was tarnished when Bert Lance, a personal friend of the President’s chosen head of the Office of Management and Budget, was accused of financial misdeeds during his pre-Washington career a Georgia banker. Carter supported Lance at first but was eventually forced to ask for his departure. Despite Lance’s eventual acquittal, the controversy tarnished the President’s much-touted reputation for honesty.
Many protested against the arrival in the United States of the ousted Iranian monarch, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, for medical treatment; a mob of Iranian students attacked the US embassy in Tehran and held its diplomatic employees’ prisoner in November 1979. Iran’s revolutionary government, led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, backed the students. Carter remained steadfast throughout the tense standoff that ensued. Still, his inability to liberate the captives during the Iran hostage crisis tarnished his government’s image, exacerbated by the failure of a secret US military expedition in April 1980.
Despite low popularity ratings, Carter won the Democratic presidential nominee in 1980, defeating Senator Edward Kennedy. In the primary election in the year, he was beaten by Ronald Reagan, a former actor and California governor. They stated during his campaign that the country’s problem was not a lack of public confidence but a need for fresh leadership.
Carter founded the nonprofit, nonpartisan Carter Center in Atlanta with his wife Rosalynn in 1982. He maintained his diplomatic endeavors in several conflict-torn nations throughout the world in the decades after that. Carter talked with North Korea to cease their nuclear weapons development in 1994 alone and worked in Haiti to guarantee a peaceful transition of power. Carter said in 2015 that he had been diagnosed with cancer that had spread throughout his body. He is the longest-serving President of the United States.