JIMMY CARTER, born October 1, 1924 was the 39th President of the United States (1977–1981) and the Nobel Peace laureate in 2002. Previously, he was the Governor of Georgia (1971–1975). Carter won the Democratic nomination as a dark horse candidate, and went on to defeat incumbent in the 1976 presidential election.

The Iranian hostage crisis was seen by critics as a devastating blow to national prestige; Carter struggled for 444 days to effect the release of the hostages. A failed rescue attempt led to the resignation, in protest, of his Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. The hostages were finally released the day Carter left office.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan marked the end of détente, and Carter moved to the right, boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, and began to rebuild American military power. He beat off a primary challenge from Senator Ted Kennedy but was unable to effectively reduce soaring interest rates and inflation rates, or to lower unemployment. The “Misery Index”, his favored measure of economic well-being, rose 50% in four years. He feuded with the Democraticleaders who controlled Congress and, as a result, was unable to reform the tax system or to implement a national health plan. He was defeated by Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980.

After leaving office, Carter assumed the role of an elder statesman and international mediator, using his prestige as a former president to further many causes. He founded the Carter Center as a forum for issues related to democracy and human rights. He has also traveled extensively to monitor elections, conduct peace negotiations, and establish relief efforts. In 2002, Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize for his “efforts to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.” Carter has continued his decades-long active involvement with the charity Habitat for Humanity, which builds houses for the needy.


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