Jimmy Carter is the 39th president of the United States. He was born in 1924 in the small farming town of Plains, Georgia, the son of a peanut farmer. He received a bachelor of science degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1946. In the Navy he became a submariner, serving in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets and rising to the rank of lieutenant. Chosen for the nuclear submarine program, Carter also took graduate work at Union College in reactor technology and nuclear physics.
In 1946, he married Rosalynn Smith. When his father died in 1953, he resigned his naval commission and returned with his family to Georgia, where he took over the Carter farms and became active in the community, serving on county boards supervising education, the hospital authority, and the library. In 1962 he won election to the Georgia Senate. He lost his first gubernatorial campaign in 1966, but won the next election, becoming Georgia's 76th governor in 1971.
Carter served as president from 1977 to 1981. During his presidency he negotiated a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, signed the Camp David Accords and the SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union, and established diplomatic relations with China. On the domestic side, the administration's achievements included a comprehensive energy program conducted by a new Department of Energy; deregulation in energy, transportation, communications, and finance; major educational programs under a new Department of Education; and major environmental protection legislation. He lost his reelection in 1980 to Ronald Reagan, in part because of the Iran hostage crisis, in which 52 U.S. citizens were held hostage by Iranian revolutionaries who overthrew the government.
In 1982, he founded The Carter Center. Actively guided by President Carter, the nonpartisan and nonprofit Center addresses national and international issues of public policy. In 2002, Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development."
Question: What does it take to be a good husband?
Jimmy Carter: Well, I think a good husband for one thing has to depend on having a good wife and I was lucky enough to choose the right woman and we were married more than 64 years ago. Rosalynn and I have run into a few things, first of all, we give each other plenty of space. We don’t try to encroach on the private affairs of each other. Rosalynn has her own major commitments outside of home and so do I. We cooperate whenever we can, we share delightful aspects of life like fly-fishing and bird watching and things of that kind. And also we made a commitment a large number of years ago not ever to go to sleep at night estranged. If we do have some arguments during the day, we have almost a commitment before God that we will resolve that argument before we go to sleep. So I think those are the reasons we’ve been able to enjoy each other’s company all this time.
Recorded November 30, 2010
Interviewed by Andrea Useem