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Carter, Jimmy (1924–)

Carter, Jimmy (1924–)

Jimmy Carter (James Earl Carter, Jr.) was thirty-ninth president of the United States (1977–1981). His presidency was known for his human rights policy, the Panama Canal treaties returning the Canal to Panamanian control, and the Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt. After he lost his reelection bid to Ronald Reagan, Carter and his wife returned to Georgia and founded the Carter Center, a non-profit center to resolve conflict, promote democracy, protect human rights, and prevent disease and other afflictions in developing countries.

Carter was born 1 October 1924, in the small farming town of Plains, Georgia. 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 served on submarines and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant.

In 1946, he married Rosalynn Smith of Plains. When his father died in 1953, Carter resigned his commission in the Navy and went back to Georgia to operate the Carter farms. In 1962 he was elected to the Georgia Senate. Losing the race for governor in 1966, he won the election in 1970. In 1972 he was the Democratic National Committee's campaign chairman for the congressional and gubernatorial elections of 1974. He announced his candidacy for president of the United States with the Democratic Party in 1974 and was elected president on 2 November 1976.

Carter served as president from 1977 to 1981. His major foreign policy achievements included the Camp David Accords leading to the peace treaty 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 supported human rights worldwide and particularly in Latin America, where he advanced the transition from military to civilian governments in many countries. He negotiated the Panama Canal treaties, which led to a return of the Canal Zone to Panama. It won ratification in the U.S. Senate by just one vote and was politically costly for Carter.

Domestically, the Carter administration's accomplishments included a comprehensive energy program conducted by a newly created Department of Energy. Other achievements on the domestic front included 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.

Carter is the author of numerous books, including Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (2006). In 1982 he became University Distinguished Professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and founded the Carter Center. Under his leadership the Carter Center has sent sixty-three international election-monitoring delegations to elections in the Americas, Africa, and Asia. The Latin American nations include Panama (1989), Nicaragua (1990), Guyana (1992), Venezuela (1998), and Mexico (2000). In 2002, Carter made an historic trip to Cuba, the first sitting or former U.S. president to visit since the 1959 Cuban Revolution.

In 2002 Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "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" ("The Nobel Peace Prize of 2002,"

See alsoCarter Center; Panama Canal; Panama Canal Treaties of 1977.


Gherman, Beverly. Jimmy Carter. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications Co., 2004.

Horowith, Daniel. Jimmy Carter and the Energy Crisis of the 1970s: A Brief History with Documents. New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2004.

Joseph, Paul. Jimmy Carter. Edina, MN: ABDO Publishing Co., 2002.

Waxman, Laura Hamilton. Jimmy Carter. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner, 2006.

                                    Jennifer McCoy

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