Born as James Earl Carter Jr. in October 1924, Jimmy Carter is an American politician and philanthropist. He served as the 39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. Before that, he served as a Georgia State Senator from 1963 to 1967 and as the 76th governor of Georgia.
After leaving the presidency, he remained engaged in political and social projects as a private citizen. In 2002, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in co-founding the Carter Center.
Carter graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1946 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He then joined the United States Navy, serving on submarines.
Following the death of his father in 1953, he left his naval career and returned home to Georgia. He took up the reins of his family’s peanut-growing business.
He got motivated to enter politics to oppose the political climate of racial segregation. He supported the growing civil rights movement and joined the Democratic Party as an activist.
During his term as a president, he established two new cabinet-level departments, the Department of Energy and the Department of Education. He also established a national energy policy including conservation, price control, and new technology.
As for his foreign affairs, most people remember Jimmy Carter for his involvement in Camp David Accords.
By the end of his presidency, he had to go through the Iran hostage crisis, the 1979 energy crisis, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
He escalated the Cold war by imposing a grain embargo against the Soviets. Carter also led the 1980 Summer Olympics boycott in Moscow.
For his second term, he lost to Republican nominee Ronald Reagan. Carter remains the only president to serve a full term without appointing a justice to the Supreme Court.
Many critics nowadays praise his time after the presidency. He did more following the end of his presidency than he did during his time as a president.
Let’s talk about some of the accomplishments in the life of Jimmy Carter.
Jimmy Carter had a lot of experience working in the navy. He also studied at a Naval Academy. He used that to his advantage, taking the US Navy to the next level.
In 1952, serving under the legendary Adm. Hyman Rickover, Carter helped develop a nuclear-powered Navy. And in 2004, he christened the USS Jimmy Carter, a $3.3 billion nuclear submarine.
Camp David Accords
Today, Camp David Accords remain one of the biggest accomplishments by Jimmy Carter. He mediated negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. The negotiations resulted in the Camp David Accords.
Under the agreement, Israel agreed to return Egyptian territory conquered during the 1973 war, and Egypt extended full diplomatic recognition to Israel. Begin and Sadat won the Nobel Peace Prize for that effort.
The ultimate goal of the Camp David Accords helped establish a framework for peace in the Middle East. It formalized Arab recognition of Israel’s right to exist, developing a procedure for the withdrawal of Israeli forces and citizens from the “Occupied Territories”.
Inspired by his work on the Camp David Accords, Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn Carter founded the Carter Center in 1982.
Partnering with Emory University, the Center had a mission to advance peace and health worldwide. It has helped improve life for people in more than 80 countries.
Carter Center helped resolve conflicts, improve mental health, advance democracy, advance human rights, provide economic opportunity, and preventing diseases.
Guinea worm disease
Nowadays, you might not have heard o Guinea worm disease. But back 30 years ago, the disease affected more than 3.5 million people. The Carter Center fought to reduce the devastating tropical infection.
In 2014, the Center reported only 126 cases. Many believe that thanks to the Carter Center, Guinea worm disease will get eradicated, the first disease since smallpox to achieve that feat.
This parasitic infection, caused by the Guinea worm, can infect people while drinking water that contains water fleas.
In 1986, when the Center started its fight, Guinea worm disease appeared in more than 20 countries in Africa and Asia. Nowadays, the disease remains active in only six countries, Sudan, Ghana, Mali, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Niger.
Helping with elections
To this date, the Carter Center has observed more than 100 elections in 38 countries. Jimmy Carter himself has observed 39 elections. The center fights to ensure fairness and help establish and strengthen democracies.
In May 1989, Carter and former President Gerald Ford traveled to Panama to observe the first elections by the Carter Center.
Following the visit, Carter condemned Dictator Manuel Noriega for refusing to allow free and open elections. He called for a worldwide outcry against a dictator who stole the election from his own people.
United Nations Human Rights Prize
Jimmy Carter received the United Nations Human Rights Award in 1998 along with five other activists from around the world. The prize has a five-year award cycle.
Carter promoted adherence to three human rights categories. The first one, the right to be free from government violation of the integrity of the person. The second one, the right to fulfill vital needs such as food, shelter, and education. And the third one, the right to civil and political rights.
He based his presidential foreign policy views on human rights. Jimmy ended decades of US foreign aid to abusive US allies and other countries that abused the human rights of their citizens.
Presidential Medal of Freedom
Jimmy and his wife Rosalynn received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999. It is the highest civilian honor by the US Government. President Bill Clinton presented the medal to Jimmy and his wife.
While presenting the medal, Clinton said, “Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have done more good things for more people in more places than any other couple on the face of the Earth.”
Nobel Prize Winner
In 2002, Jimmy Carter received 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”.
At the time, Jimmy was the third president to receive the award. Obama won the award as well. So far, the four presidents that have won the award are Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama.
Carter is the only one who won it after leaving office. In his speech, he said, “We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children. The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices. God gives us the capacity for choice. We can choose to alleviate suffering”.
When Hurricane Katrina hit the United States of America, Jimmy criticized the Bush administration for the handling of it.
He built homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. And then he partnered to work with former presidents to help victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.
Marrying Rosalynn Smith Carter
Jimmy and Rosalynn got married on July 7, 1946, in the Plains Methodist Church. When asked, Jimmy often said that his biggest accomplishment in life was marrying Rosalynn.
These two have three sons together, Jack, James III, and Donnel, and one daughter, Amy.