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Jimmy Carter was the 39th president of the United States (1977-81) and later was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.
Jimmy Carter - Legacy (2:26)
Learn about the legacy of Jimmy Carter and his many philanthropic efforts.
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Born and raised in Georgia, Jimmy Carter was an officer in the Navy, a peanut farmer, and the 39th President of the United States. Carter's presidency was marked by international crisis and domestic recession.
An inside look at the 1980 Presidential debate between then President Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
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Although Carter entered the race with a double-digit lead over the unexciting Ford, he made several gaffes that narrowed the polls. Most prominently, in an interview with Playboy, Carter admitted to committing adultery "in his heart" and made several other glib remarks about sex and infidelity that alienated many voters. Although the election turned out much closer than initially expected, Carter nevertheless won to become the 39th President of the United States of America.
Carter assumed the presidency in a time of considerable optimism, initially enjoying sky-high approval ratings. Symbolizing his commitment to a new kind of leadership, after his inaugural address Carter got out of his limousine to walk to the White House amongst his supporters. Carter's main domestic priority involved energy policy. With oil prices rising, and in the aftermath of the 1973 oil embargo, Carter believed it imperative to cure the United States of its dependence on foreign oil. Although Carter succeeded in decreasing foreign oil consumption by eight percent and developing huge emergency stores of oil and natural gas, the Iranian Revolution of 1979 again drove up oil prices and led to long lines at gas stations, overshadowing Carter's achievements.
Carter's foreign policy centered around a promise to make human rights a central concern in the United States' relations with other countries. He suspended economic and military aid to Chile, El Salvador and Nicaragua in protest of those regimes' human rights abuses. But Carter's most notable foreign policy achievement was his successful mediation of the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt, leading to a historic peace treaty in which Israel withdrew from the Sinai and the two sides officially recognized each other's governments.
However, despite these noteworthy achievements, Carter's presidency was widely considered a failure. He had very poor relationships with Congress and the media, stifling his ability to enact legislation or effectively communicate his policies. In 1979 Carter delivered a disastrous speech, referred to as the "Crisis of Confidence" speech, in which he seemed to blame America's problems on the poor spirit of its people. Several foreign policy blunders also contributed to Carter's loosening grip on the presidency. His secret negotiations to return the Panama Canal to Panama led many people to believe he was a weak leader who had "given away" the canal without securing necessary provisions for defending U.S. interests.
Probably the biggest factor in Carter's declining political fortunes, however, was the Iranian Hostage Crisis. In November 1979, radical Iranian students seized the United States Embassy in Tehran, taking 66 Americans hostage. Carter's failure to negotiate the hostages' release, followed by a badly botched rescue mission, made him look like an impotent leader who had been outmaneuvered by a group of radical students. The hostages were held for 444 days before finally being released on the day Carter left office.
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When Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel died in 1896, he left his fortune to create an annual series of prizes for the individuals who confer "the greatest benefit on mankind." The most prestigious of the awards is the Nobel Peace Prize. Historians believe Alfred Nobel wanted to award people who work for peace to compensate for his own role in inventing dynamite. Since its establishment, the prize has gone to many courageous individuals who have fought for peace and human rights around the world.
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The first U.S. president, former military leader George Washington, took his oath of office on April 30, 1789, on the balcony of Federal Hall. From that moment onward, the United States' highest office has been filled regularly by elected officials who aim to serve the people under the guidance of the U.S. Constitution. Learn more about the 43 men who have served as America's chief executive.
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