James “Jimmy” Earl Carter, Jr. (born October 1, 1924) was the 39th President of the United States (1977–1981) and the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office. Before he became President, Carter served two terms as a Georgia State Senator and one as Governor of Georgia (1971–1975), and was a peanut farmer and naval officer.
As President, Carter created two new cabinet-level departments: the Department of Energy and the Department of Education. He established a national energy policy that included conservation, price control, and new technology. In foreign affairs, Carter pursued the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaties, the second round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II), and returned the Panama Canal Zone to Panama.
Throughout his career, Carter strongly emphasized human rights. He took office during a period of international stagflation, which persisted throughout his term. The end of his presidential tenure was marked by the 1979–1981 Iran hostage crisis, the 1979 energy crisis, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (at the end of 1979), and the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.
By 1980, Carter’s popularity had eroded. He survived a primary challenge against Ted Kennedy for the Democratic Party nomination in the 1980 election, but lost the election to Republican candidate Ronald Reagan. On January 20, 1981, minutes after Carter’s term in office ended, the 52 U.S. captives held at the U.S. embassy in Iran were released, ending the 444-day Iran hostage crisis.
After leaving office, Carter and his wife Rosalynn founded the Carter Center in 1982, a nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization that works to advance human rights. He has traveled extensively to conduct peace negotiations, observe elections, and advance disease prevention and eradication in developing nations. Carter is a key figure in the Habitat for Humanity project, and also remains particularly vocal on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Major Acts as President
- Created two new Cabinet-level Departments: The Department of Energy and The Department of Education. There is no authorization in the US Constitution for a national energy or education policy or spending.
- Negotiated significant treaties establishing peaceful relations between Israel, Egypt, and Jordan; arms reductions with the Soviet Union; and the future return of the Canal to Panama (in 1999).
- Significant diplomatic and military failures in Iran, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) led to a general sense of American weakness abroad.
- Keynesian economic policies caused an extended period of international stagflation (high unemployment combined with inflation).
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