Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. an American politician, was the
39th President of the United States (1977–1981) and the Nobel
Peace laureate in 2002. Previously, he had been a member of local
boards for seven years, a state senator in Georgia (1963-1967),
the chairman of the DNC Congressional Campaign and Gubernatorial
Campaigns (1974), and the Governor of Georgia (1971-1975). He was
a dark horse who won the Democratic nomination and narrowly defeated
Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential election.
president his major accomplishments included the creation of a
national energy policy and the consolidation of governmental agencies.
He enacted strong environmental legislation; deregulated the trucking,
airline, rail, finance, communications, and oil industries, bolstered
the social security system; and appointed record numbers of women
and minorities to significant government and judicial posts.
foreign affairs, Carter's accomplishments included the Camp David
Accords, the Panama Canal Treaties, the creation of full diplomatic
relations with the People's Republic of China, and the negotiation
of the SALT II Treaty. In addition, he championed human rights
throughout the world and used human rights as the center of his
administration's foreign policy.
Iranian hostage crisis was seen by critics as a devastating blow
to national prestige; Carter struggled for 444 days to release
the hostages. A failed rescue attempt led to the resignation of
his Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. The hostages were not released
until the day Carter left office, five minutes after Ronald Reagen's
inauguration. Some believe, however, that the release was delayed
by an agreement between Reagan campaign officials and the Iranian
government. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan marked the end
of détente, and Carter moved to the right, boycotted the
Moscow Olympics, and began to rebuild American military power.
beat off a primary challenge from Senator Ted Kennedy, but was
unable to reduce soaring interest rates and inflation rates, or
lower unemployment. The "Misery Index," his favored
measure of economic well-being, rose 50% in four years. He feuded
with the Democratic leaders who controlled Congress, and was unable
to reform the tax system or to implement a national health plan.
He was defeated in a landslide by Republican Ronald Reagan in
the decades since he left office, Carter has been seen by some
people as an elder statesman and international mediator, and has
used his prestige as a former president to further many charitable
causes. He founded the Carter Center as a forum for issues related
to democracy and human rights. He has also traveled extensively
to monitor elections, conduct peace negotiations, and establish
2002, Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize for his "efforts to
find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance
democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social
development." Carter has continued his decades-long active
involvement with the charity Habitat for Humanity, which builds
houses for the needy. He can actually be found participating in
the construction of these houses.
was the oldest of four children of James Earl and Lillian Carter.
He was the first president born in a hospital. He was born in
the Southwest Georgia town of Plains and grew up in nearby Archery,
Georgia. Carter 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 and football.
was greatly influenced by one of his high school teachers, Julia
Coleman. Ms. Coleman was handicapped by polio. She had encouraged
young Jimmy to read War and Peace; he was disappointed to find
that there were no cowboys or Indians in the book. Carter mentioned
his beloved teacher in his inaugural address as an example of
someone who beat overwhelming odds.
had three younger siblings. His brother, Billy (1937-1988), caused
some political problems for him during his administration. His
sister, Gloria (1926-1990), was low-key and was famous for collecting
and riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles. His other sister, Ruth
(1929-1983), became a well-known Christian evangelist.
attended Georgia Southwestern College and Georgia Institute of
Technology, and received a B.S. degree from the United States
Naval Academy in 1946. Carter was a gifted student, and finished
59th out of his Academy class of 820. Carter did post-graduate
work, studying nuclear physics and reactor technology at Union
College. He married Rosalynn Smith in 1946.
served on submarines in the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. He was
later selected by Admiral Hyman G. Rickover for the U.S. Navy's
nuclear submarine program, where he became a qualified nuclear
engineer. Rickover was a demanding officer, and Carter was greatly
influenced by him. Carter later said that next to his parents,
Admiral Rickover had had the greatest influence on him. There
was a story he often told of being interviewed by the Admiral.
He was asked about his rank in his class at the Naval Academy.
Carter said "Sir, I graduated 59th out of a class of 820".
only asked "Did you always do your best?" Carter was
forced to admit he had not, and the Admiral asked why. Carter
later used this as the theme of his presidential campaign, and
as the title of his first book, "Why Not The Best?".
Carter loved the Navy, and had planned to make it his career.
His ultimate goal was to become Chief of Naval Operations.
the death of his father in 1953, however, Carter resigned from
the Navy, and took over and expanded his family's peanut farming
business in Plains. There he was involved in a farming accident
which left him with a permanently bent finger.
a young age, Carter showed a deep commitment to Christianity,
serving as a Sunday School teacher throughout his political career.
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?"
World War II, he and Rosalynn started a family. They had three
sons, (John William, born in 1947; James Earl III, born in 1950;
and Donnel Jeffrey, born in 1952), and a daughter (Amy Lynn, late
in life, in 1967).
Carter started his career by serving on various local boards,
governing such entities as the schools, hospital, and library,
among others. In the 1960s, he served two terms in the Georgia
Senate from the fourteenth district of Georgia.
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. This included people
voting in alphabetical order and dead people voting. 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.
1966, at 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 as the governor
of his state, and in turn dropped out of the race for Congress
and joined the race to become Governor. Carter lost the election
and for the next four years, returned to his peanut farming business
and carefully planned for his next campaign for Governor in 1970,
making over 1,800 speeches throughout the state.
his 1970 campaign, he ran an uphill populist campaign in the Democratic
primary against former Gov. Carl Sanders, labeling his opponent
"Cufflinks Carl." Although Carter had never been a segregationist—he
had refused to join the segregationist White Citizens' Council,
prompting a boycott of his peanut warehouse; and he had been one
of only two families which voted to admit blacks to the Plains
Baptist Church —he "said things the segregationists
wanted to hear," according to historian E. Stanly Godbold.
did not condemn Alabama firebrand George Wallace, and Carter's
campaign aides handed out photographs of his opponent, showing
Sanders associating with black basketball players. Following his
close victory over Sanders in the primary, he was elected Governor
over Republican Hal Suit. (This would later come back to haunt
him during his 1980 re-election)
his inaugural speech, Carter surprised the state and gained national
attention by declaring 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 (such sentiments would have signaled
the end of the political career of politicians in the region less
than 15 years earlier, as had been the fate of Atlanta mayor Ivan
Allen Jr., who'd testified before Congress in favor of the Voting
Rights Act). Following this speech, Carter appointed many blacks
to statewide boards and offices; he hung a photo of Martin Luther
King, Jr. in the State House, a significant departure from the
norm in the South.
bucked the tradition of the "New Deal Democrat," attempting
a retrenchment in favor of shrinking government. An environmentalist,
he opposed many public works projects. He particularly opposed
the construction of large dams for construction's sake, opting
to take a pragmatic approach based on a cost-benefits analysis.
Governor, Carter made government efficient 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 retarded
children, and increased educational programs for convicts.
Carter's urging, the legislature passed laws to protect the environment,
preserve historic sites, and decrease secrecy in government. 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.
1972, as Sen. 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. The remarks attracted little national attention, and after
McGovern's huge loss in the general election, Carter's attitude
was not held against him within the Democratic Party. In 1974,
Carter was chairman of the Democratic National Committee's congressional
and gubernatorial campaigns.
Carter began running for president in 1975 almost immediately
upon leaving office as governor of Georgia. When Carter entered
the Democratic Party presidential primaries in 1976, he was considered
to have little chance against nationally better-known politicians.
When he told his family of his intention to run for president,
he was 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, DC, became an asset.
The centerpiece of his campaign platform was government reorganization.
was the darkest "dark horse" to win the presidential
nomination of a major party since 1940. He became the front-runner
early in the Democratic race, winning the Iowa caucuses and the
New Hampshire primary. But the primary season was well under way
before many analysts would admit he was a serious candidate. He
won by a brilliant two-prong strategy. In the South, which liberal
Democrats had tacitly conceded to Alabama segregationist George
Wallace, Carter ran as a moderate favorite son. When Wallace proved
to be a spent force, Carter swept the region almost unopposed.
the North, Carter appealed largely to conservative Christian and
rural voters and had little chance of winning a majority in most
states. But in a field crowded with liberals, he managed to win
several Northern states by building the largest single bloc. Initially
dismissed as a regional candidate, Carter proved to be the only
Democrat with a truly national strategy, and he eventually clinched
the general election, Carter started with a huge lead over President
Gerald Ford, in large part because of the public's resentment
over Ford's having pardoned Richard Nixon. Ford steadily closed
the gap in the polls even after Carter arguably won their televised
debate. The cause of this erosion appeared to be public doubt
about such a little-known candidate.
Carter hung on to narrowly defeat Ford in November 1976. He became
the first contender from the Deep South to be elected president
since 1848. His 50.1% of the popular vote made him one of only
two Democratic Party Presidential Candidates to win a majority
of the popular vote since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1944.
Carter Administration's foreign policy is most remembered for
the Iran hostage crisis, for the peace treaty he brokered between
the states of Israel and Egypt with the Camp David Accords, for
the SALT II treaty brokered with the Soviet Union, for the Panama
Canal Treaties which turned the canal over to Panama, for creating
full diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China
following Richard Nixon's lead, for placing human rights as the
center of his foreign policy, and for an energy crisis.
was much less successful on the domestic front, having alienated
both his own party and his opponents, through what was perceived
as a lack of willingness to work with Congress — much as
he had in his term as Governor. Even so, he was successful in
deregulating several industries, consolidating governmental agencies,
creating a national energy policy and the Departments of Energy
and Education, bolstering the social security system, appointing
record numbers of women and minorities to government and judicial
posts and enacting strong legislation for environmental protection,
doubling the size of the National Park Service.
the energy market exploded, an occurrence Carter desperately tried
to avoid during his term, he was planning on delivering his fifth
major speech on energy. However, he realized the American people
were no longer listening. Instead, he went to Camp David and for
ten days, met with governors, mayors, religious leaders, scientists,
economists, and general citizens. He sat on the floor and took
notes of their comments and especially wanted to hear criticism.
His pollster told him that the American people simply faced a
crisis of confidence because of the assassination of John F. Kennedy,
the Vietnam War, and Watergate.
Vice President, Walter Mondale, strongly objected and said that
there were real answers to real problems; it did not have to be
philosophical. On July 15, 1979, Carter gave a nationally-televised
address in which he identified what he believed to be a "crisis
of confidence" among the American people. This has come to
be known as his "malaise" speech, even though he did
not use the word "malaise" anywhere in the text:
want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American
democracy.... I do not refer to the outward strength of America,
a nation that is at peace tonight everywhere in the world, with
unmatched economic power and military might.
threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of
confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and
soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in
the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the
loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.
Carter's speech, written by Chris Matthews, was well-received,
although some viewed it as too much like a sermon. But, the country
was in the midst of an economy frustratingly dominated by OPEC-caused
double digit inflation. But many who had hoped for some sort of
simple solution found themselves disappointed.
days after the speech, Carter asked for the resignations of all
of his Cabinet officers, and ultimately accepted five. Carter
later admitted in his memoirs that he should have simply asked
only those five members for their resignation. By asking the entire
cabinet, it looked as if the White House was falling apart. With
no visible efforts towards a way out of the malaise, Carter's
poll numbers dropped even further.
1 October 1979, President Carter announced before a television
audience the existence of the Rapid Deployment Forces (RDF), a
mobile fighting force capable of responding to worldwide trouble
spots, without drawing on forces committed to NATO. The RDF was
the forerunner of CENTCOM.
Presidents who served at least one full term, Carter is the only
one who never made an appointment to the Supreme Court.
A major issue for President Carter was inflation, caused especially
by continued high levels of government spending and the rising
price of imported oil, which was the major source of energy for
many industries. Carter added the United States Department of
Energy as a new cabinet-level department.
first head of the department was James R. Schlesinger. Carter
installed solar power panels on the roof of the White House, a
wood stove in the living quarters, ordered the General Services
Administraion to turn off hot water in some facilites and requested
that Holiday decorations remain dark in 1979 and 1980. The Holiday
decorations were turned on by his successor, Ronald Reagan, and
the solar panels and the wood stove were removed.
is popularly believed that Carter appeared in a sweater to urge
citizens to turn down their thermostats and conserve energy. In
fact the sweater had nothing to do with energy use. He wore a
sweater on inauguration day and every time he addressed the nation,
to establish an informal, common man image.
government reorganization efforts also separated the Department
of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) into the Department of
Education and the Department of Health and Human Services.
inflation caused interest rates to rise to unprecedented levels
(above 12 percent per year). The prime rate hit 21.5 in 1979,
highest in history. The rapid change in rates led to disintermediation
of bank deposits, which sowed the seeds of the Savings and Loan
crisis. Investments in fixed income (both bonds, and pensions
being paid to retired people) were becoming less valuable. With
the markets for U.S. government debt coming under pressure, Carter
appointed Paul Volcker as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board;
Volcker replaced G. William Miller who left to become the Secretary
of the Treasury.
took actions (raising interest rates even further) to slow down
the economy and bring down inflation, which he considered his
mandate. He succeeded, but only by first going through a very
unpleasant phase where the economy slowed down, causing a rise
in unemployment, prior to any relief from the inflation. The stagnant
growth of the economy (causing unemployment), in combination with
a high rate of inflation, has often been called stagflation, an
unprecedented situation in American economics.
a more successful note, Carter signed legislation bolstering the
Social Security system through a staggered increase in the payroll
tax and appointed record numbers of women, blacks, and Hispanics
to government and judiciary jobs. Carter enacted strong legislation
for environmental protection. His Alaska National Interest Lands
Conservation Act created 103 million acres of national park land
in Alaska. He was also successful in deregulating the trucking,
rail, airline, communications, oil, and finance industries.
President Carter initially departed from the long-held policy
of containment toward the Soviet Union. In its place Carter promoted
a foreign policy that placed human rights at the forefront. This
was a break from the policies of several predecessors, in which
human rights abuses were often overlooked if they were committed
by a nation that was allied with the United States. The Carter
administration ended support to the historically U.S.-backed Somoza
dictatorship in Nicaragua, and gave millions of dollars in aid
to the nation's new Sandinista regime after it rose to power by
Sandinistas were themselves neither Communists nor a dictatorial
regime, but they had contacts with Marxist movements operating
in Honduras and El Salvador. They had other close ties (in terms
of weapons, politics and logistics) with Cuba, and Carter showed
a greater interest in human and social rights than in the historical
conflict with Cuba.
continued his predecessors' policies of imposing sanctions on
Rhodesia, and, after Bishop Abel Muzorewa was elected Prime Minister,
protested that the Marxists Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo were
excluded from the elections. Strong pressure from the United States
and the United Kingdom prompted new elections in what was then
called Zimbabwe Rhodesia. Carter was also known for his criticism
of Alfredo Stroessner, Augusto Pinochet, the apartheid government
of South Africa, and other traditional allies.
continued the policy of Richard Nixon to "normalize"
relations with the People's Republic of China granting full diplomatic
and trade relations, thus ending official relations with the Republic
of China (though the two nations continued to trade and the U.S.
unofficially recognized Taiwan through the Taiwan Relations Act).
Carter also succeeded in having the Senate ratify the Panama Canal
Treaties, which handed over the canal to Panama. This treaty helped
relations with Panama.
proudest accomplishment during his Presidency was the Camp David
Accords. The Camp David Accords were a peace agreement between
Israel and Egypt, which was negotiated by President Carter. Carter
invited Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President
Anwar Sadat to Camp David to work on the negotiations. At one
point, Sadat wished to go home.
informed him he was hurting a friend and this could hurt relations
with their countries and personally, so he stayed. At another
point, Begin was adamant about going home. Carter then signed
photographs of himself and addressed each one to one of Begin's
grandchildren. Begin then agreed to stay because he wanted peace
for his grandchildren and all future generations of Israeli children.
To this date, there is peace between the nations of Israel and
key foreign policy issue Carter worked laborously on was the SALT
II Treaty. SALT stood for the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks
and were negotiations being conducted between the United States
and the Soviet Union. The work of Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon
saw the creation of the SALT I treaty, but Carter wished to further
the reduction of nuclear arms. It was his main goal, as was stated
in his Inaugural Address, that nuclear weaponry be completely
vanished from the face of the Earth.
and Leonid Brezhnev, the leader of the Soviet Union, reached an
agreement and held a signing ceremony. However, because of the
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan late in 1979, the treaty was never
ratified. Even so, both sides honored their commitments laid out
in the negotiations.
December 1979, USSR invaded Afghanistan, after the pro-Moscow
Afghanistan government placed by a 1978 coup was overthrown. There
are many theories as to why the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.
Some believed the Soviets were attempting to expand their borders
southward in order to gain a foothold in the region. The Soviet
Union had long lacked a warm water port, and their movement south
seemed to position them for further expansion toward Pakistan
and India in the East, and Iran to the West.
Carter administration, and many Republicans and Democrats alike,
feared that the Soviets were positioning themselves for a takeover
of Middle Eastern oil. Others believed that the Soviet Union was
fearful that the Muslim uprising would spread from Iran and Afghanistan
to the millions of Muslims in the USSR. After the invasion, Carter
announced the Carter Doctrine: that the US would not allow any
outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf. Carter terminated
the Russian Wheat Deal, a keystone Nixon Detente initiative to
establish trade with USSR and lessen Cold War tensions. The grain
exports had been beneficial to people employed in agriculture,
and the Carter embargo marked the beginning of hardship for American
also prohibited Americans from participating in the 1980 Summer
Olympics in Moscow, and reinstated registration for the draft
for young males. Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski started a $40
billion covert program of training Islamic fundamentalists in
Pakistan and Afghanistan. In retrospect, this contributed to the
collapse of the Soviet Union. Critics of this policy blame Carter
and Reagan for the resulting instability of post-Soviet Afghani
governments, which led to the rise of Islamic theocracy in the
region, and also created much of the current problems with Islamic
fundamentalism. However, some right-leaning historians attribute
Afghanistan's instability to a combination of factors resulting
from the Soviet invasion and the decade long occupation.
main conflict between human rights and U.S. interests came in
Carter's dealings with the Shah of Iran. The Shah had been a strong
ally of America since World War II, and was one of the "twin
pillars" upon which U.S. strategic policy in the Middle East
was built. However, his rule was strongly autocratic, and he went
along with the plan of the Eisenhower administration to depose
Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953. Though Carter praised the Shah as
a wise and valuable leader, when a popular uprising against the
monarchy broke out in Iran, the Carter administration did not
Shah was deposed and exiled. Many have since connected the Shah's
dwindling U.S. support as a leading cause of his quick overthrow.
Carter was initially prepared to recognize the revolutionary government
of the monarch's successor, but his efforts proved futile.
1979, Carter out of humanitarian concerns allowed the deposed
Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi into the United States for political
asylum and medical treatment. In response to the Shah's entry
into the U.S., Iranian militants seized the American embassy in
Tehran taking some 100 Americans hostage. The Iranians demanded
(1) the return of the Shah to Iran for trial, (2) the return of
the Shah's wealth to the Iranian people, (3) an admission of guilt
by the United States for its past actions in Iran, plus an apology,
and (4) a promise from the United States not to interfere in Iran's
affairs in the future.
later that year the Shah would leave the U.S. and die in Egypt,
the hostage crisis continued and dominated the last year of Carter's
presidency, even though almost half of the hostages were released.
The subsequent responses to the crisis, from a "Rose Garden
strategy" of staying inside the White House, to the unsuccessful
attempt to rescue the hostages, were largely seen as contributing
to defeat in the 1980 election.
Carter lost the Presidency by a landslide to Ronald Reagan in
the 1980 election. The popular vote went approximately 51% for
Reagan, and 41% for Carter. However, because Carter's support
was not concentrated in any geographic region, Reagan won 91%
of the electoral vote, leaving Carter with only six states and
the District of Columbia. Independent candidate John Bayard Anderson,
drawing liberals unhappy with Carter's policies, won seven percent
of the vote and prevented Carter from taking traditionally Democratic
states, like New York, Wisconsin and Massachusetts.
their televised debates, Reagan taunted Carter by famously saying
"there you go again". Carter hurt himself in the debates
when he talked about asking his young daughter Amy what the most
important issue affecting the world was. She said it was nuclear
proliferation, and the control of nuclear arms. Carter said that
the point he was trying to make was that this issue affects everyone,
especially our children. However, he phrased it as if he was taking
political advice from his 13 year old daughter, which led many
to ridicule him.
the Carter team had successfully negotiated with the hostage takers
for release of the hostages, an agreement trusting the hostages
takers to abide by their word was not signed until January 19,
1981, after the election of Ronald Reagan. The Iranians would
not release the hostages until 5 minutes after the inauguration
of President Reagan. The hostages had been held captive for 444
days, and their release happened just minutes after Carter left
office. However, Reagan asked Carter to head to Germany to greet
1982, a small book by James B. Stewart esq. appeared on the scene.
“The Partners: Inside America’s Most Powerful Law
Firms” begins with Stewart’s insider description of
the negotiation process for the release of the hostages. Though
short, the chapter laid out clearly what had happened behind the
scenes. After the hostages were taken, President Carter issued,
on November 14, 1979, Executive Order 12170 -- Blocking Iranian
Government property http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/executive-orders/1979.html,
which was used to freeze the bank accounts of the Iranian government
in US banks, totaling about $8 billion US at the time.
was to be used as a bargaining chip for the release of the hostages.
The Iranians then changed their demand to return of the Shah and
the release of the Iranian money. Through informal channels the
Iranian government started negotiations with the banks then holding
the money. The banks took over negotiations for the release of
the hostages, not the US State Department.
the Shah died of cancer in the summer of 1980, the Iranians wanted
no more to do with the hostages and changed their demands to just
the release of the hostages in exchange for the return of their
money. Why the deal was not struck at that point is never explained,
as it was the exact same deal that the Iranians received in January
of 1981. The hostages were finally released with the signing of
Executive Orders 12277 through 12285 releasing all assets belonging
to the Iranian government and all assets belonging to the Shah
found within the United States and the guarantee that the hostages
would have no legal claim against the Iranian government that
would be heard in US courts, http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/executive-orders/1981-carter.html.
Shortly after the publication of “The Partners” accusations
of an “October Surprise” were leveled against the
Reagan Administration. No witnesses were ever found who had anything
to report, but Congress investigated the matter for years.
small blow to his reelection campaign came on April 20, 1979,
when he was attacked by a "killer rabbit" while fishing
in a pond from a small boat. The swimming rabbit, perhaps ill
or fleeing from a predator, attempted to board the president's
craft. Carter flailed at the rabbit with his paddle, splashing
water at it, and the rabbit turned and swam away. A White House
photographer captured the scene on film. The story broke months
after the attack, during the slow news month of August, when White
House Press Secretary Jody Powell described the incident to reporter
Brooks Jackson over tea; shortly thereafter, it was on the front
page of The Washington Post with a cartoon take-off, Paws, of
the poster from the film Jaws.
In 1977, Carter stated that there was no need to apologize to
the Vietnamese people for the damage and suffering caused by the
Vietnam War as "the destruction was mutual".
1977, Bert Lance, Carter's director of the Office of Management
and Budget, resigned after past banking overdrafts and "check
kiting" were questioned by the U.S. Senate. However, no wrongdoing
was found in the performance of his duties.
Carter's administration, diplomatic recognition was switched from
the Republic of China to the People's Republic of China, a policy
continued into the 21st century. In response, Congress passed
the Taiwan Relations Act.
supported the Indonesian government even while it denounced the
violation of human rights in East Timor.
of a secret agreement between the Reagan campaign and the Iranians
were extensively investigated, both officially and by journalists,
showing that stories of an "October surprise" were based
on a hoax.
Since his unsuccessful bid for re-election, Carter has been involved
in a variety of national and international public policy, conflict
resolution, human rights and charitable causes through the Carter
Center. He established the Carter Center the year following his
term, and currently chairs the center with his wife Rosalynn.
The center also focuses on world-wide health care including the
campaign to eliminate guinea worm disease. He and members of the
center are sometimes involved in the monitoring of the electoral
process in support of free and fair elections. This includes acting
as election observers, particularly in Latin America and Africa.
and his wife Rosalynn are also well-known for their work with
Habitat for Humanity.
was the third U.S. president, after Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow
Wilson, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize award. In his Nobel Lecture,
Carter told the European audience that U.S. actions after the
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the 1991 Gulf War, like NATO
itself, was a continuation of President Wilson's doctrine of collective
has received honorary degrees from many American colleges, including
Harvard University, Bates College, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Since leaving the Presidency, Carter has written 20 books, all
1994, Carter went to North Korea at the behest of President Clinton
during a period of rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula that
were caused by North Korea's expulsion of investigators from the
International Atomic Energy Agency and that country's threat to
begin processing spent nuclear fuel. Carter met with North Korean
President Kim Il Sung resulting in the signing of the Agreed Framework,
under which North Korea agreed to stop processing nuclear fuel,
in exchange for a return to normalized relations, oil deliveries
and two light water reactors to replace its graphite reactors.
North Korea did not abide by this agreement and concealed its
the Agreed Framework negotiated by Jimmy Carter was widely hailed
at the time as a diplomatic achievement, it soon became apparent
that despite their promises to Carter, North Korea had no intention
of stopping its nuclear weapons program. In 2005, North Korea
announced that it had nuclear weapons.
2001, Carter blasted President Clinton's controversial pardon
of Marc Rich, calling it "disgraceful" and suggesting
that Rich's contribution of $520 million to the Democratic Party
was a factor in Clinton's action.
visited Cuba in May 2002, meeting with Fidel Castro and becoming
the first President of the United States, in or out of office,
to visit the island since Castro's 1959 revolution. Carter while
President, did not lift the trade embargo against Cuba, in which
he had the power to do so.
March 2004, Carter roundly condemned George W. Bush and Tony Blair
for waging an unnecessary war "based upon lies and misinterpretations"
in order to oust Saddam Hussein. He claimed that Blair had allowed
his better judgment to be swayed by Bush's desire to finish a
war that George H. W. Bush (his father) had started.
June 2005, Carter urged the closing of the Guantanamo Bay Prison
in Cuba, which has been the centerpoint for recent claims of prisoner
and Muslim holy book Quran abuse.
all Carter's efforts have gained him favor in Washington; President
Clinton and both Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush were
said to have been less than pleased with Carter's "freelance"
diplomacy in Iraq and elsewhere. Critics of Carter's diplomatic
efforts (during and after his presidency) generally concede that
Carter is honest and well intentioned, but consider him to be
naive about less scrupulous foreign leaders.
November 22, 2004, New York Republican Governor George Pataki
named Carter and the other living former presidents (Gerald Ford,
George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton) as honorary members of the
board rebuilding the World Trade Center.
he had served as a submariner (the only president to have done
so), a submarine was named for him. The USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23)
was named on April 27, 1998, making it one of the very few U.S.
Navy vessels to be named for a person still alive at the time
of the naming. In February 2005, Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter both
spoke at the commissioning ceremony for this submarine.
is a University Distinguished Professor at Emory University and
teaches occasional classes there. He also teaches a Sunday School
class at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. Being an
accomplished amateur woodworker, he has occasionally been featured
in the pages of Fine Wood Working magazine, which is published
by Taunton Press.
has also participated in many ceremonial events such as the opening
of his own presidential library and those of Presidents Ronald
Reagan, George H.W. Bush, andBill Clinton. He has also participated
in many forums, lectures, panels, funerals and other events. Most
recently, he delivered a eulogy at the funeral of Coretta Scott
On October 14, 1978 President Carter signed into law a bill that
legalized the homebrewing of beer and wine.
one occasion, Jimmy Carter was asked if there was anything in
life he regretted, he replied,"Yes, the time that I stole
from the collection plate as a young boy!"
was the first president to make public statements in support of
gay rights. In California in the late 1970s, voters were facing
a law which would have banned gays and lesbians (and heterosexuals
that endorsed gay rights) from working in the school system. At
a speech in California, Carter urged voters to reject the bill.
Incidentally, former California governor Ronald Reagan, who later
defeated Carter, also opposed the bill. In the early days of the
Carter campaign, Carter had promised to oppose discrimination
on the basis of sexual orientation, but backed off on the pledge
when he won the Democratic Party nomination.
Carter White House had the first official visit by a gay rights
organization, and allowed a group of gay veterans to participate
in an official ceremony for the Vietnam War Memorial. During his
unsuccessful reelection campaign, the Carter campaign competed
with the Ted Kennedy campaign for the support of the gay rights
organizations. However, the Carter administration's tepid support
of gay rights did not please liberal Democrats (who felt Carter
was too moderate on the issue) or the socially conservative Christians
that Carter had previously courted and would help elect Ronald
believe in the separation of church and state and would not use
my authority to violate this principle in any way."
government ought to stay out of the prayer business."
a Christian, a trained engineer and scientist, and a professor
at Emory University, I am embarrassed by Superintendent Kathy
Cox's attempt to censor and distort the education of Georgia's
students.... There is no need to teach that stars can fall out
of the sky and land on a flat Earth in order to defend our religious
not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different
beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams."