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Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program

The Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program is comprised of over 3,000 linear feet of archival collections, along with an extensive number of oral history interviews, that document the unique political culture of the state of Georgia.

James Earl "Jimmy" Carter

James Earl "Jimmy" Carter was born in the small Georgia town of Plains on October 1, 1924. His family was solidly middle class and he attended local schools before an appointment to the United States Military Academy. He graduated in 1946 and served in the Navy until his father's 1953 death brought him home to run the family farm and business. Carter immediately got involved in civic and political affairs, and was elected to the state senate in 1962 as a Democrat. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1966, but won in 1970 and was seen as one of a group of more moderate Southern governors. In 1976, he ran for president as a Washington outsider and won a close election over President Gerald Ford. After one term plagued by a poor economy, controversy over the Panama Canal Treaty, and the Iran Hostage Crisis, Carter lost by a large margin to Ronald Reagan. The Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt are probably the greatest achievement of Carter's presidency, and much of his life since has been devoted to foreign policy and human rights issues. In 1982 he established the Carter Center in Atlanta to work on these issues and currently lives in Plains with his wife of over 60 years, Rosalynn.; This interview takes place in an unmentioned location with Dr. Mel Steely on May 4, 1993.; The interview begins with a discussion on Carter's actions in the 1966 election and his relationship with Bo Calloway and Lester Maddox. He also describes his relationship with those who supported him in his race for governor, and his views on Civil Rights and how he chose to involve himself with the African American communities of Georgia. Carter answers questions in regards to his direct involvement with the legislature of Georgia by comparing himself to his predecessor, Lester Maddox. He then lists several accomplishments that he achieved during his time as governor, including expanding the state's relationship with other countries and the restructuring of the state government. He is also open with his decision not to appoint Ernest Vandiver after Richard Russell's death, which Vandiver viewed as a slight. Later, Carter descries his relationships with "big business men" like Mills Lane and Robert Woodruff. Carter concludes the interview by naming his educational reforms and his continuation of Lester Maddox's prison reform efforts.