In my opinion, Jimmy Carter was a very weak President, but I will hold my personal feelings about him in check while I attempt to write an impartial review of him. I will never understand how enough American voters could be convinced to elect Carter when they had Gerald R. Ford running in the same election. I knew I wasn't the only one with such feelings and this was confirmed by a recent news article comparing "the Obama White House with the failed presidency of Jimmy Carter."
Carter made a remarkable rise to national fame in the 1976 presidential election. Before he entered politics, Jimmy managed a peanut warehouse and farm owned by his family and served as an official in the U.S. Navy. While serving in the Georgia Senate, Carter won election as governor and served in that office from 1971 to 1975. He was, however, little known elsewhere until "he won 18 primary elections and became the Democratic candidate for President in 1976. He was denied a second term as President when Ronald Reagan, a former governor of California, won the 1980 election.
The United States endured many problems while Carter was President. The country was reeling from the effects of high unemployment and severe inflation at home while at the same time dealing with enormous problems abroad. After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the relations between America and the Soviet Union "plunged to their lowest point in several years." Iran held a large group of Americans as hostages after revolutionaries took over the U.S. Embassy in Teheran. The hostages were captured to protest U.S. support for the deposed shah of Iran. Carter didn't handle either of these situations well, but he did win praise for helping to establish diplomatic relations between the United States and China and to bring about a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
Carter was calm, reserved, and soft-spoken in his appearance and manner. He was a man of great personal warmth and charm with his friends. He also was an energetic campaigner who was determined to win every fight. He set high standards and demanded hard work - but pushed himself harder than he pushed anyone else.
The man known as Jimmy Carter was officially named James Earl Carter, Jr. Sandy-haired Jimmy was born on October 1, 1924, in Plains, Georgia; he had two sisters and a brother. When he was 4 years old, his family moved to a wooden clapboard house on a farm in Archery, Georgia. His father was a farmer and businessman, and his mother was a registered nurse. He was interested in business while still a child. At about age five, he sold boiled peanuts on the streets of Plains, earning $1 on weekdays and $5 on Saturdays. He purchased five huge bales of cotton for 5 cents a pound when he was nine years old, stored the cotton for several years, and then sold it at triple the price.
Jimmy attended public school in Plains where he loved reading and received good grades. In later years, a classmate remembered Jimmy as being "the smartest in the class." Jimmy's favorite subjects included history, literature, and music. He played basketball on his high school team. After graduating from high school in 1941, Jimmy entered Georgia Southwestern College, and in 1942 received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, his boyhood dream. He took some mathematics courses at Georgia Institute of Technology to meet requirements for admission to the academy and entered the academy in 1943. He graduated in 1946 with a rank of 59 in a class of 820 after excelling in electronics, gunnery, and naval tactics.
Carter started dating Rosalynn Smith, the best friend of his sister Ruth, in 1945 and married her on July 7, 1946, about a month after graduating from Annapolis. They are the parents of three boys and a daughter.
Carter served in the U.S. Navy on the U.S.S. Wyoming and the U.S.S. Mississippi before attending submarine-training school in 1948, graduating third in a class of 52. He served on submarine U.S.S. Pomfret and submarine U.S.S. K-1 before joining in 1952 a select group of officers who were involved in developing the first nuclear-powered submarine in the world. He was the engineering officer of the nuclear submarine Sea Wolf.
Jimmy and Rosalynn had their "first really serious argument in our marriage" when Jimmy's father died in 1953. He felt needed at home to help in the family business, and she wanted him to stay in the Navy. He resigned from the Navy with the rank of lieutenant senior grade that year. Jimmy returned to Plains where he took over the family farm and peanut warehouse. He studied modern farming techniques, expanded the warehouse, and bought new machinery for the farm, all of which helped the family business to thrive under his management.
Carter became involved in civic affairs and served on the board of education in his county. He was also a deacon and Sunday school teacher at the Plains Baptist Church and a member of the local hospital and library boards. He was well-respected in Plains but differed from most of his neighbors on the subject of segregation. He refused to join an organization designed to further segregation and voted - with one other church member - against a measure at his church to ban blacks from Sunday service.
In the 1976 election, many voters liked Carter because he was not part of the Washington, D.C., scene. They wanted a leader without ties to various interest groups in the nation's capital. They were also attracted by his vow to restore moral leadership to the presidency because their confidence was rattled by the Watergate scandal, which led to the resignation of Richard M. Nixon. Gerald R. Ford popularity fell greatly after he pardoned Nixon for any federal crime committed while President.
President and Mrs. Carter brought simplicity to the White House by ending much of the ceremony and pageantry marking official receptions there. Trumpeters announcing the presidential family and a color guard preceding them were eliminated. Most state dinners ended about 11:00 p.m. The Carters' only daughter Amy was nine years old when they moved to the White House. She attended nearby public schools and often brought classmates home to play. Rosalynn worked to help women gain equal rights and to improve care for the elderly and mentally ill.
Carter returned to Plains after he lost his second campaign for President to Ronald Reagan in 1980. He has remained very active in politics.
Events in the world of President Carter include: 1) Political events included the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the rise to power of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Iran. 2) Revolutionaries took over the U.S. embassy in Iran and held a group of Americans hostage for 444 days. 3) "Root," an eight-part television drama based on a book by Alex Haley that traced the 200-year history of a black family in America, from slavery to freedom. (Haley settled a suit recently alleging that he had plagiarized parts of his book.) 4) Pioneer and Voyager space probes were launched in the late 1970's. The Pioneer probes reached Venus in 1978 and sent back data and radar photographs of the plant. The Voyager spacecraft, starting in 1979, relayed pictures and other information about Jupiter and Saturn. 3) Many people questioned the safety of nuclear energy after an accident at Three Mile Island, a nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, triggered concern in 1979. 4) Drivers waited in long lines to purchase gasoline in 1979 in many parts of our nation. Small, fuel-efficient vehicles received new interest. 5) Many "boat people" traveling in small boats on open seas to escape persecution and thousands of immigrants from Vietnam and other Southeast Asian nations poured into our nation in the late 1970's. 6) Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979, aided by Carter. 7) Mount Saint Helens in the Cascade Mountains south of Seattle, Washington, erupted in 1980, causing extensive damage and about 60 deaths.
Facts and quotes for this post came from an article by Hugh S. Sidey in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol 3, pp 252-260.