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President James Earle Carter, Jr. (Jimmy)

39th President of the United States - A Man of the People

By Linda RivenbarkPublished about a year ago 6 min read
President James Earle Carter, Jr. (Jimmy)
Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash

On Saturday, February 18, 2023, former President Jimmy Carter began Hospice Care at his home in Plains, Georgia, surrounded by his family and friends along with his medical team and caregivers. Former President Carter was born in Plains on October 1, 1924 and celebrated his 98th birthday last year.

As a young man, Carter graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1946. Soon afterwards, he married another Plains native, Rosalynn Smith. Together they have four children: John William "Jack," James Earl "Chip," Donnel Jeffrey "Jeff", and daughter Amy Carter Kelly, as well as 22 grandchildren and great-grandchildren combined.

Jimmy Carter's career with the U. S. Navy spanned seven years, five of which were devoted to submarine duty. In 1953, he was about to start an assignment on the submarine Seawolf when his father died, and he changed course and went home to take care of the family business.

By Jeremy Huang on Unsplash

The family's peanut warehouse business had been experiencing hard times after a damaging draught, and Jimmy was able to pick up where his father left off and rebuild the business to a robust operation again.

He entered politics by serving on the local Board of Elections, and in 1962 and 1964, was elected as a Democratic Georgia State Senator.

He failed in his bid for the governorship of Georgia in 1966, but came back for a second run in 1970 and was elected as the state's governor. Carter built his governorship on an attempt to end racial discrimination. Black people and women were no longer excluded from Georgia's government offices.

He reorganized the network of state agencies, combining them to create larger entities characterized by rigorous budgeting procedures. For these efforts, he garnered national attention by being featured on the cover of Time Magazine, being described as an example of good government and a symbol of the "New South".

President Carter's policies in regards to racial discrimination and human rights went a long way to lift us out of the dark days of the 1960s when school and social integration brought violence and death as the nation worked its way toward a more equitable way of life for all people.

Near the end of his term as Georgia's governor, Carter announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States in the 1976 Presidential Election.

By Elliott Stallion on Unsplash

Governor Carter began his Presidential campaign lacking nationwide backing or a significant political base. What he lacked in initial support, he made up for with enthusiastic and untiring campaigning.

Coming on the heels of the Watergate scandal, in which the former President Richard Nixon resigned the office or Presidency, he was able to appeal to the general electorate by casting himself as a Washington outsider, a man of faith and integrity who would be able to restore the people's confidence in government again.

With the campaign being in 1976, it happened to coincide with our nation's 200th birthday, or bicentennial celebration. The summer of campaigning offered much opportunity to remember the summer of 1776 when the United States of America became an independent nation.

By Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Carter's opponent in the 1976 election was Gerald Ford, who became president upon the resignation of President Nixon, as he had been Nixon's Vice President.

For his running mate, Carter chose Walter F. Mondale, a liberal senator from Minnesota, creating a winning ticket that captured 51% of the popular vote and tabulating 297 electoral votes as compared to Ford's 240.

On January 20, 1977, the newly sworn-in President Carter, who placed his hand on the Bible used to swear in George Washington as our first President in 1789, as he took the oath of office as the 39th U.S. President, spoke these words in his Inaugural Speech (recorded below).

I highly encourage you and sincerely ask you to take a bit less than 15 minutes of your valuable time to listen to some timeless, priceless words that speak volumes when placed alongside the picture of the troubled times in which we live today.

Before I wrap this up, please allow me to add a list of some of President Carter's accomplishments during his 4 years in office.

  1. Tw o treaties enacted between the United States and Panama in 1977 gave Panama control of the Panama Canal as of the end of 1999, guaranteeing the Waterway's neutrality after that time.
  2. The 1978 Camp David Accords were a major victory in that President Carter hosted Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat during the 13-day negotiations facilitated by President Carter at the Presidential Retreat at Camp David. Tensions ran high at times, and Carter's tenacious encouragement helped both sides stay with the process until it was done. The treaty achieved full economic and diplomatic relations between Israel and Egypt based on Israel's agreement to return the occupied peninsula of Sinai to Egypt.
  3. President Carter established full diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China while concurrently severing diplomatic relations with Taiwan on January 1, 1979.
  4. One of President Carter's goals (mentioned in his Inaugural Address) was to take steps to begin the process of removing all nuclear weapons from the earth. In that regard, in 1979 in Vienna, he signed the SALT-2 treaty (strategic arms limitations treaty) with the Russian leader Leonid Brezhnev. Its goal was to establish fairness and balance in each super power's strategic nuclear weapons delivery systems in ways that could be satisfactorily verified.

When Russia invaded Afghanistan in 1980, Carter withdrew the Treaty from consideration by the U.S. Senate and took punitive measures towards Russia including placing an embargo on American grain shipped to the Soviet Union. He also attempted to establish a United States boycott of the Summer Olympics which were set to take place in Moscow.

By Hansjörg Keller on Unsplash

In spite of his considerable accomplishments, President Carter's term in office was beset by a dramatic foreign crisis (the Iran hostage crisis) in which a mob of Iranian students, angered by the arrival of the deposed shah in the United States to receive medical treatment, stormed the embassy and took hostage the diplomatic staff members.

President Carter immediately began efforts to negotiate for the release of the hostages while staving off a direct confrontation with the government of Iran. Nightly TV coverage of the crisis led to what is now known as the news show Nightline, and to much discontent among the American people.

A secret mission conducted by the American military to rescue the hostages ended in April of 1980 with the dual crash of a plane and helicopter in the Iranian desert.

Domestic Troubles Led to Political Discontent

It seems to be an unwritten rule that a sitting President gets the blame for anything and everything that goes wrong while he is in office.

President Carter's term was beset with problems with inflation, high unemployment, and unstable interest rates.

Upon looking a little closer, these problems could be traced back to the early 1970s when America became too dependent on foreign oil. Carter championed alternative methods of energy (a.k.a. clean or Green Energy), and proposed to the American people that in the process of making a change, they might need to lower their expectations a bit.

This did not go over very well, and may have played a major role in his loss in 1980 to the former actor, Ronald Reagan.

During the final months as President, Carter continued to make some important changes that would make America a better country.

He worked with Congress to enact legislation known as Superfund to clean up toxic waste dumps. This law also appropriated approximately 100 million acres of Alaskan land and protected it from development.

His inclusion of minorities and women in his Presidential Cabinet is also a memorable achievement that set a positive example for future presidents.

I can't help but wonder where we would be today if he had won a second term, and if Americans would have been more receptive to his plans for renewable energy.

Still, I am grateful, as an American, for all he did accomplish during four years as our Chief Executive.

For yourself, as a favor to me, and for future generations, please listen to his Inaugural Address.

Read about his involvement in Habitat for Humanity during his post-Presidential years, doing hands-on work to help low-income families have a home.

Wishing former President Carter and his family peace and love in the weeks and months ahead, I thank him for all he has done for our country!

P.S. A big THANK YOU to all the Hospice workers who will be attending the former President and his family. Having been blessed with Hospice support with both my Mom and Dad in their final days, I know their help is a blessing beyond words. Thank you for all you do!


About the Creator

Linda Rivenbark

I believe in the magic of words, love, and tenacity. There is a world out there that needs to be explored, researched, and written out to try to make some sense of it, and to make a better place for the children of tomorrow.

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Comments (4)

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  • Freddie's Lost Treasures10 months ago

    President Jimmy Carter ia a brilliant man and I had the pleasure of meeting him in my hometown in Las Vegas some years ago. He has always been a very down to earth individual and someone that you could feel that you could trust. Trust is key when you hold the title of the leader of the free world in your hands.

  • Linda Rivenbark (Author)about a year ago

    Thank you so much for your kind words 😊!

  • An excellent tribute to a wonderful man

  • Babs Iversonabout a year ago

    Fantastic tribute to President Carter!!! Loved it!!!💕💖

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