Born: October 1, 1924 in Plains, Georgia
Married to Rosalynn Smith Carter
Jimmy Carter aspired to make Government "competent
and compassionate," responsive to the American people and their
expectations. His achievements were notable, but in an era of rising
energy costs, mounting inflation, and continuing tensions, it was impossible
for his administration to meet these high expectations.
Carter, who has rarely used his full name--James Earl Carter, Jr.--was
born October 1, 1924, in Plains, Georgia. Peanut farming, talk of politics,
and devotion to the Baptist faith were mainstays of his upbringing. Upon
graduation in 1946 from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Carter
married Rosalynn Smith. The Carters have three sons, John William (Jack),
James Earl III (Chip), Donnel Jeffrey (Jeff), and a daughter, Amy Lynn.
After seven years' service as a naval officer, Carter returned to Plains.
In 1962 he entered state politics, and eight years later he was elected
Governor of Georgia. Among the new young southern governors, he attracted
attention by emphasizing ecology, efficiency in government, and the removal
of racial barriers.
Carter announced his candidacy for President in December 1974 and began
a two-year campaign that gradually gained momentum. At the Democratic
Convention, he was nominated on the first ballot. He chose Senator Walter
F. Mondale of Minnesota as his running mate. Carter campaigned hard against
President Gerald R. Ford, debating with him three times. Carter won by
297 electoral votes to 241 for Ford.
Carter worked hard to combat the continuing economic woes of inflation
and unemployment. By the end of his administration, he could claim an
increase of nearly eight million jobs and a decrease in the budget deficit,
measured in percentage of the gross national product. Unfortunately,
inflation and interest rates were at near record highs, and efforts to
reduce them caused a short recession.
Carter could point to a number of achievements in domestic affairs.
He dealt with the energy shortage by establishing a national energy policy
and by decontrolling domestic petroleum prices to stimulate production.
He prompted Government efficiency through civil service reform and proceeded
with deregulation of the trucking and airline industries. He sought to
improve the environment. His expansion of the national park system included
protection of 103 million acres of Alaskan lands. To increase human and
social services, he created the Department of Education, bolstered the
Social Security system, and appointed record numbers of women, blacks,
and Hispanics to Government jobs.
In foreign affairs, Carter set his own style. His championing of human
rights was coldly received by the Soviet Union and some other nations.
In the Middle East, through the Camp David agreement of 1978, he helped
bring amity between Egypt and Israel. He succeeded in obtaining ratification
of the Panama Canal treaties. Building upon the work of predecessors,
he established full diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of
China and completed negotiation of the SALT II nuclear limitation treaty
with the Soviet Union.
There were serious setbacks, however. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
caused the suspension of plans for ratification of the SALT II pact.
The seizure as hostages of the U. S. embassy staff in Iran dominated
the news during the last 14 months of the administration. The consequences
of Iran's holding Americans captive, together with continuing inflation
at home, contributed to Carter's defeat in 1980. Even then, he continued
the difficult negotiations over the hostages. Iran finally released the
52 Americans the same day Carter left office.