James Earl “Jimmy” Carter, Jr. was the thirty-ninth President of the United States and served from 1977-1981. His illustrious career as a president was preceded by two terms in the Senates of the state of Georgia and he served as the 76th Governor of the state in the term of 1971-1975. He had also been awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, one of the highest and most respected honors recognized in the world today.
Jimmy Carter was the first president to be born in a hospital. He was the oldest among the children born to James Earl and Bessie Lillian Gordy. Jimmy Carter’s family was resident of Georgia for a number of generations and the president himself grew up in a small hamlet in the southwestern region of the state.
Jimmy Carter was not only an avid reader and a bright student, but also a star in the sports arena, especially basketball. He graduated from Plains High School and was inducted into the Navy. He served well and loved his naval career and had high aspirations, but it was cut short by his father’s death in 1953. He took a good deal of interest in teaching and Christianity, as he maintained that they were the driving force in his life. He later married Rosalynn Smith in 1946 and had four children. Jimmy Carter’s presidency was ruled by a host of crises. These included hostage situations, fuel shortages and crises and the Soviet invasions in Afghanistan.
One major factor ruling dominantly in the domestic policy of the Carter administration was the energy crisis. It had become such an issue that the Carter administration had a separate new cabinet-level department: the Department of Energy. The domestic oil production and removal of price controls though did not affect the reliance of the US populace on foreign oil resources (such as the OPEC), and the energy crisis had bombed in the face of the Carter administration by 1979. The weak economy and the energy crisis both were serious threats to the Carter government on the domestic front, but his major problems were from foreign-related issues and none was as strong as the hostage situation in Iran.
Carter’s government was plagued by poor economy that recorded double digit inflation, oil shortages, high interest rates, unemployment and slow growth. This coupled with the energy crisis was a major hurdle in Jimmy Carter’s political career. His initial good relations with the Congress also suffered as he vetoed legislations on projects from a “19 hit list”. This did not go down well with the Congress as they later refused to pass the bills on consumer protection bill and labor reform package.
On the foreign affairs front, Jimmy Carter most acclaimed accomplishment was the success of the Camp David Accords, 1978. They were an Egypt-Israeli peace agreement signed to prevent further conflicts in the Middle-East. He also was an active ambassador of human rights and impaled nations like Rhodesia for negative reports on the human rights front.
A controversial and unpopular move was the signing of the Panama Canal Treaties which handed over the responsibility of the American-built Panama Canal to Panama. This treaty made Jimmy Carter unpopular and bitterly opposed by sections of the American public and the Republican Party.
The SALT II Treaty signed between the Soviet Union and the US was to bring down the number of nuclear weapons in each one’s arsenal. This was also a major accomplishment from Jimmy Carter’s administrative point of view. Jimmy Carter also established the Carter Doctrine after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. But the turning point was the hostage crisis in Iran, where 52 Americans were taken hostage by Iranian students and they demanded the head of the Shah of Iran (then in the US) and more in exchange. A failed rescue attempt and a botched route plan for the hostage recovery made Jimmy Carter very unpopular among the American nationals.
The political issues relating to Iran led to the downfall and defeat of Jimmy Carter at the hands of Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980. Carter retired from office and pursued work in arenas of human rights, peace negotiations and election campaigns. He is a prolific author, having 27 books to his pen and is the earliest living president in the USA today.