Jimmy Carter (born October 1, 1924) an American politician, was the 39th President of the United States (1977-1981) and the Nobel Peace laureate in 2002. Previously, he had been a member of local boards for seven years, a state senator in Georgia (1963-1967), the chairman of the DNC Congressional Campaign and Gubernatorial Campaigns (1974), and the Governor of Georgia (1971-1975). He was a dark horse who won the Democratic nomination and narrowly defeated Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential election.
As president his major accomplishments included the creation of a national energy policy and the consolidation of governmental agencies. He enacted strong environmental legislation; deregulated the trucking, airline, rail, finance, communications, and oil industries, bolstered the social security system; and appointed record numbers of women and minorities to significant government and judicial posts. In foreign affairs, Carter's accomplishments included the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaties, the creation of full diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, and the negotiation of the SALT II Treaty. In addition, he championed human rights throughout the world and used human rights as the center of his administration's foreign policy.
The Iranian hostage crisis was seen by critics as a devastating blow to national prestige; Carter struggled for 444 days to release the hostages. A failed rescue attempt led to the resignation of his Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. The hostages were not released until the day Carter left office, five minutes after Ronald Reagan's inauguration. Some believe, however, that the release was delayed by an agreement between Reagan campaign officials and the Iranian government (see October Surprise). The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan marked the end of d├ętente, and Carter moved to the right, boycotted the Moscow Olympics, and began to rebuild American military power. He beat off a primary challenge from Senator Ted Kennedy, but was unable to reduce soaring interest rates and inflation rates, or lower unemployment. The "Misery Index," his favored measure of economic well-being, rose 50n four years. He feuded with the Democratic leaders who controlled Congress, and was unable to reform the tax system or to implement a national health plan. He was defeated in a landslide by Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980.
In the decades since he left office, Carter has been seen by some people as an elder statesman and international mediator, and has used his prestige as a former president to further many charitable 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. He can actually be found participating in the construction of these houses.