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Jimmy Carter

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Carter, Jimmy (James Earl Carter, Jr.; 1924– ), 39th president of the United States.

Early life

Carter grew up on a Georgia farm and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1946. In the navy he studied nuclear physics and worked on the atomic submarine program. In 1953 he returned to Georgia, built the family's farm into a prosperous peanut business, and entered politics as a Democrat.


As governor of Georgia (1971–75) he encouraged electoral and social reforms. Carter rose from relative obscurity to win the Democratic nomination in 1976 after a 2-year campaign in which he cast himself as a political outsider. He defeated Republican incumbent Gerald R. Ford.


Carter's relations with Congress were strained. His revision of the Social Security system was passed, but his comprehensive energy program was not. The economic growth rate fell in the last years of his administration, and both inflation and interest rates were high. His anti-inflation program, emphasizing cooperation among government, business, and labour had little success. In 1977 Carter won congressional approval of a treaty to cede control of the Panama Canal to Panama at the end of 1999. In 1979 the United States established full diplomatic relations with China. But Carter's most significant foreign policy achievement was his brokering of a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, signed in 1979. In Nov. 1979, Muslim militants in Iran seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking some 60 Americans hostage. Carter's failure to win their release was an important factor in his defeat by Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election.


After leaving office, Carter returned home to Plains, Ga. He wrote several books, established an institute at Georgia's Emory University for discussion of international political and social issues, and took part in various international fact-finding and diplomatic missions.


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