It’s said that if one can connect one president to your family then the others will be connected also. The ancestral background of presidents of the United States has been relatively consistent throughout American history. With the exception of John F. Kennedy, Martin Van Buren, and perhaps Dwight D. Eisenhower, every president has ancestors from Great Britain.
I’m not going to go into much detail about who James Carter is since just about everyone should know who our 39th United States President was. His background is extremely lengthy. I will touch on a few things though taken from Wikipedia.
James Earl Carter Jr. is an American philanthropist, former politician, and businessman who served as the 39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as a Georgia State Senator from 1963 to 1967 and as the 76th governor of Georgia from 1971 to 1975. Since leaving the presidency, Carter has remained engaged in political and social projects as a private citizen. In 2002, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in co-founding The Carter Center.
Raised in Plains, Georgia, Carter graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1946 with a Bachelor of Science degree and joined the United States Navy, where he served on submarines. After the death of his father in 1953, Carter left his naval career and returned home to Georgia to take up the reins of his family’s peanut-growing business. Carter inherited comparatively little because of his father’s forgiveness of debts and the division of the estate among the children. Nevertheless, his ambition to expand and grow the Carter family’s peanut business was fulfilled. During this period, Carter was motivated to oppose the political climate of racial segregation and support the growing civil rights movement. He became an activist within the Democratic Party. From 1963 to 1967, Carter served in the Georgia State Senate, and in 1970, he was elected as Governor of Georgia, defeating former Governor Carl Sanders in the Democratic primary on an anti-segregation platform advocating affirmative action for ethnic minorities. Carter remained as governor until 1975. Despite being a dark-horse candidate who was little known outside of Georgia at the start of the campaign, Carter won the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination. In the general election, Carter ran as an outsider and narrowly defeated incumbent Republican President Gerald Ford.
On his second day in office, Carter pardoned all the Vietnam War draft evaders by issuing Proclamation 4483. During Carter’s term as president, two new cabinet-level departments, the Department of Energy and the Department of Education were established. He established a national energy policy that included conservation, price control, and new technology. In foreign affairs, Carter pursued the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaties, the second round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II), and the return of the Panama Canal Zone to Panama. On the economic front, he confronted stagflation, a persistent combination of high inflation, high unemployment, and slow growth. The end of his presidential tenure was marked by the 1979–1981 Iran hostage crisis, the 1979 energy crisis, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In response to the invasion, Carter escalated the Cold War when he ended détente, imposed a grain embargo against the Soviets, enunciated the Carter Doctrine, and led a 1980 Summer Olympics boycott in Moscow. In 1980, Carter faced a challenge from Senator Ted Kennedy in the primaries, but he won re-nomination at the 1980 Democratic National Convention. Carter lost the general election to Republican nominee Ronald Reagan in an electoral landslide. He is the only president in American history to serve a full term of office and never appoint a justice to the Supreme Court. Polls of historians and political scientists usually rank Carter as a below-average president. Carter’s activities since leaving the presidency have been viewed more favorably than his presidency itself.
In 1982, Carter established The Carter Center to promote and expand human rights. He has traveled extensively to conduct peace negotiations, monitor elections, and advance disease prevention and eradication in developing nations. Carter is considered a key figure in the charity Habitat for Humanity. He has written over 30 books, ranging from political memoirs to poetry while continuing to actively comment on ongoing American and global affairs such as the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. At 96 years old and with a 40-year-long retirement, he is both the oldest living president and the one with the longest post-presidency. He is also the sixth-oldest living former world leader.
James Earl Carter Jr. was born on October 1, 1924, at the Wise Sanitarium (now the Lillian G. Carter Nursing Center) in Plains, Georgia, a hospital where his mother was employed as a registered nurse. Carter was the first U.S. president to be born in a hospital. He was the eldest son of Bessie Lillian (née Gordy) and James Earl Carter Sr. Carter is a descendant of English immigrant Thomas Carter, who settled in Virginia in 1635. Numerous generations of Carters lived as cotton farmers in Georgia. Carter is also a descendant of Thomas Cornell, an ancestor of Cornell University’s founder, and is distantly related to Richard Nixon and Bill Gates.
Plains was a boomtown of 600 people at the time of Carter’s birth. Carter’s father was a successful local businessman, who ran a general store, and was an investor in farmland. Carter’s father had previously served as a reserve second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps during World War I.
The family moved several times during Carter Jr.’s infancy. The Carters settled on a dirt road in nearby Archery, which was almost entirely populated by impoverished African American families. They eventually had three more children: Gloria, Ruth, and Billy. Carter got along well with his parents, although his mother worked long hours and was often absent in his childhood. Although Earl was staunchly pro-segregation, he allowed his son to befriend the black farmhands’ children. Carter was an enterprising teenager who was given his own acre of Earl’s farmland where he grew, packaged, and sold peanuts. He also rented out a section of tenant housing that he had purchased.
Carter attended Plains High School from 1937 to 1941. By that time, Archery and Plains had been impoverished by the Great Depression, but the family benefited from New Deal farming subsidies, and Earl took a position as a community leader. Young Jimmy was a diligent student with a fondness for reading. A popular anecdote holds that he was passed over for valedictorian after he and his friends skipped school to venture downtown in a hot rod. Carter’s truancy was mentioned in a local newspaper, although it is not clear he would have otherwise been valedictorian. Carter’s teacher, Julia Coleman, was an especially strong influence. As an adolescent, Carter played on the Plains High School basketball team; he also joined the Future Farmers of America and developed a lifelong interest in woodworking.
Earl Carter died a relatively wealthy man, having recently been elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. However, between his forgiveness of debts and the division of his wealth among heirs, his son Jimmy inherited comparatively little. For a year, Jimmy, Rosalynn, and their three sons lived in public housing in Plains; Carter is the only U.S. president to have lived in subsidized housing before he took office. Carter was knowledgeable in scientific and technological subjects, and he set out to expand the family’s peanut-growing business. The transition from Navy to agribusinessman was difficult because his first-year harvest failed due to drought; Carter was compelled to open several bank lines of credit to keep the farm afloat. Meanwhile, he also took classes and read up on agriculture while Rosalynn learned accounting to manage the business’s books. Though they barely broke even the first year, the Carters grew the business and became quite successful.
Carter and his wife Rosalynn are well known for their work as volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, a Georgia-based philanthropy that helps low-income working people around the world to build and buy their own homes and access clean water.
Carter’s hobbies include painting, fly-fishing, woodworking, cycling, tennis, and skiing. He also has an interest in poetry, particularly the works of Dylan Thomas. During a state visit to the UK in 1977, Carter suggested that Thomas should have a memorial in Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey; this was an idea that came to fruition in 1982.
Carter was also a personal friend of Elvis Presley, whom he and Rosalynn met on June 30, 1973, before Presley was to perform onstage in Atlanta. They remained in contact by telephone two months before Presley’s sudden death in August 1977. Carter later recalled an abrupt phone call received in June 1977 from Presley who sought a presidential pardon from Carter, in order to help George Klein’s criminal case; at the time Klein had been indicted for only fraud. According to Carter, Presley was almost incoherent and cited barbiturate abuse as the cause of this; although he phoned the White House several times again, this would be the last time Carter would speak to Elvis Presley. The day after Presley’s death, Carter issued a statement and explained how he had “changed the face of American popular culture”.
Carter had three younger siblings, all of whom died of pancreatic cancer: sisters Gloria Spann (1926–1990) and Ruth Stapleton (1929–1983), and brother Billy Carter (1937–1988). He was the first cousin to politician Hugh Carter and a distant cousin to the Carter family of musicians.
Carter married Rosalynn Smith on July 7, 1946, in the Plains Methodist Church, the church of Rosalynn’s family. They have three sons, Jack, James III, and Donnel; one daughter, Amy; nine grandsons (one of whom is deceased), three granddaughters, five great-grandsons, and eight great-granddaughters. Mary Prince (an African American woman wrongly convicted of murder, and later pardoned) was their daughter Amy’s nanny for most of the period from 1971 until Jimmy Carter’s presidency ended. Carter had asked to be designated as her parole officer, thus helping to enable her to work in the White House. The Carters celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in July 2016 and celebrated their 75th anniversary on July 7, 2021. As of October 18, 2019, they are the longest-wed presidential couple, having overtaken George and Barbara Bush at 26,765 days. Their eldest son Jack Carter was the 2006 Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Nevada before losing to the Republican incumbent, John Ensign. Jack’s son Jason Carter is a former Georgia State Senator and in 2014 was the Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia, losing to the Republican incumbent, Nathan Deal. On December 20, 2015, while teaching a Sunday school class, Carter announced that his 28-year-old grandson Jeremy Carter had died from an unspecified illness.
Funeral and Burial Plans
Carter has made arrangements to be buried in front of his home in Plains, Georgia. Carter noted in 2006 that a funeral in Washington, D.C., with visitation at The Carter Center, was planned as well.
President Carter’s line can be found through the Bradley’s lineage.