Jimmy Carter Biography

Served: January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981
Born: October 1, 1924
Birthplace: Plains, Georgia
Died: n/a
Occupations: Naval officer, peanut farmer
Political Party: Democratic
Spouse: Rosalynn Smith


A Peanut Farmer Leads the Nation

The 39th president of the United States had one of the most interesting backgrounds of all the modern presidents. Before he became president, Carter served as a senator and governor of Georgia and as a U.S. Naval officer. Before that, Carter was a peanut farmer.

Although he may have been a farmer, Carter was led to politics — and even after his presidency ended, he remained active in voicing his opinion on various foreign and domestic policies.

Future Presidents of America

In high school, Carter was involved in various extracurricular activities, including basketball and the Future Farmers of America.

He attended Georgia Southwestern College and Georgia Tech before beginning a naval career with the Naval Academy in 1943. He served in the Atlantic and Pacific fleets before applying to the Navy’s nuclear submarine program. In 1953, Carter’s father died, and he was called on to continue running the family business. He resigned and was discharged from the Navy.

Carter took over the family peanut farm and managed to expand the business and rebuild his father’s wealth. In 1946, he married Rosalynn Smith, who helped the business grow by taking over the accounting. They had three sons and a daughter.

Jimmy Carter’s Pets

MORE PETS! Check out our photo gallery of selected White House pets

A Bright Beginning

Before serving two terms in the Georgia State Senate, Carter served on a variety of local boards.

In 1970, he campaigned for governor of Georgia and quickly aligned himself with values that were popular with the segregationists at the time. Carter was not himself a segregationist, and after his election he made a speech in which he pointed out that racial discrimination needed to end, and that African-Americans deserved the same rights and access that whites had.

Carter was elected president in 1976. Although he had been relatively unknown before the primaries, he received a lot of support from the media.

During his presidency he was responsible for creating the Department of Energy and the Department of Education. In response to the energy crisis, Carter promoted energy conservation by all citizens, including himself. He had solar water heating panels installed in the White House and had the heating turned down, wearing sweaters to remain warm.

Unfortunately, because of the energy crisis and a few other discouraging events, such as the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, Carter’s initial popularity began sinking and he lost his re-election attempt to Ronald Reagan.

Once Carter’s presidency ended, he participated in human rights and social works, such as founding The Carter Center and becoming involved with the Habitat for Humanity project.

Did You Know…?

  • During his term, the Iran hostage crisis loomed in the media and assisted in Carter’s popularity decline. Just minutes after his term officially ended, the 52 hostages were released. They had been held for 444 days.
  • Carter is the only president to have lived in public (subsidized) housing, though he lived there only for a short while.
  • When the church Carter and his family belonged to put a vote to its church members on whether they should admit African-Americans into their congregation, Carter’s family was one of only two families who voted to allow desegregation.
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