[00:05.70]VOA Learning English presents America’s Presidents.
[00:12.30]Today we are talking about Jimmy Carter.
[00:15.52]His given name was James, but he liked to be called Jimmy.
[00:21.33]Carter was elected president in 1976.
[00:25.69]Until he campaigned for the office, few Americans knew who he was.
[00:31.32]But Carter said his lack of experience with the federal government made him the best candidate.
[00:38.95]After witnessing years of problems in the White House, many voters appeared to agree with him.
[00:45.81]However, Carter’s inexperience also became a problem.
[00:51.64]Some of the issues he faced were complex and, at times, they seemed overwhelming.
[00:59.24]After only one term, Carter failed to get re-elected.
[01:04.08]But in time, his public image improved.
[01:08.39]His years after leaving the White House are generally considered more successful than his time in office.
[01:30.13]Jimmy Carter was born in the southern state of Georgia.
[01:35.79]He was the oldest of four children.
[01:38.81]His father was a businessman.
[01:40.75]His mother was a nurse.
[01:42.54]The family owned a store, as well as a peanut farm and warehouse.
[01:48.04]Although the businesses did well, Jimmy Carter grew up very modestly.
[01:53.67]His family’s house did not have electricity or running water.
[01:58.58]But he was hardworking and wanted to be successful.
[02:03.31]As a boy, he saved enough money to buy four houses.
[02:07.96]He earned more money by renting them to other people.
[02:11.85]He also decided to attend college at the United States Naval Academy.
[02:17.66]And in time, he did so.
[02:20.59]Carter was an excellent student.
[02:23.70]And he became a fine Naval officer.
[02:26.62]As a midshipman, Carter worked on one of the country’s first nuclear submarines.
[02:32.86]He later taught nuclear engineering to other crewmembers.
[02:37.36]But Carter’s promising career in the Navy ended after only seven years.
[02:43.99]His father was dying. And the family farm was in trouble.
[02:49.37]Carter, his wife, Rosalynn, and their three sons, decided to return to Georgia and try to save it.
[02:57.97]The first years back on the farm were difficult.
[03:02.15]But in time, the business became successful again.
[03:06.41]Carter began to turn his attention to other issues.
[03:10.44]He became involved in his church, local school, hospitals and libraries.
[03:16.25]When he had a chance to compete for a position in the state senate, he took it.
[03:22.17]As a politician, Carter developed an image as an independent thinker who tried to save the government money.
[03:30.23]He also acted and spoke strongly against racial discrimination.
[03:35.05]In Georgia at the time, many voters did not agree with Carter’s support of racial equality.
[03:41.92]In 1966, even his own Democratic Party did not choose him to be its candidate to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate.
[03:52.18]So Carter began campaigning for the office of state governor instead.
[03:58.39]In 1970, he was elected.
[04:01.58]As Georgia's governor, Carter was known as a social and political reformer.
[04:07.78]However, historian Robert Strong notes that Carter did not always work well with others in his party.
[04:15.52]Strong teaches at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.
[04:21.63]He writes that some Georgia lawmakers believed Carter was “arrogant.”
[04:26.72]He could appear to think he was morally right, and they were morally wrong.
[04:32.70]Carter’s difficulty in getting along with other officials proved to be one of the problems he would later face.
[04:40.98]But in the presidential election of 1976, many Americans seemed to like this quality.
[04:48.08]The little-known governor from Georgia defeated the sitting president, Gerald Ford.
[04:53.46]Carter won, in part, by saying that he was different than other politicians.
[04:59.85]He was, he said, a Washington outsider.
[05:03.42]Then suddenly, Carter was the biggest insider of all: the American president.
[05:34.67]One of the things Carter wanted to do was change the image of the president.
[05:41.91]Earlier leaders, such as Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson, had increased the power of the presidency.
[05:49.87]Nixon had also been shown to be dishonest, and resigned from office.
[05:55.68]Carter promised never to lie to the American people.
[05:59.99]And on the day of his swearing-in as president, he purposefully tried to keep things simple.
[06:06.93]He walked to the White House from the U.S. Capitol building instead of riding in the back of an automobile.
[06:14.76]His wife, Rosalynn, wore clothes that she had worn in public before.
[06:19.18]The National First Ladies’ Library notes that her choice of clothing sent a message of "an old American value of thrift – or respecting money, and not spending it needlessly.”
[06:33.12]It's lawmakers, even when his party was in control of Congress.
[06:38.21]One result was that Carter could not advance many of his ideas for legislation.
[06:43.74]He appeared ineffective.
[06:45.60]Many historians point out that, in fact, Carter had a number of successes.
[06:52.40]He helped reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil.
[06:56.36]He took steps to make the federal government more efficient, and to improve the environment.
[07:02.34]He appointed a number of women and racial minorities to top government jobs -- an important move at a time when many were pressing for women’s rights and civil rights.
[07:14.69]And, in many cases, Carter supported human rights causes, both in the United States and around the world.
[07:23.69]But the public generally did not see Carter for his successes.
[07:29.48]Instead, many Americans blamed him for the country’s economic problems.
[07:34.81]Some also disliked the way he spoke to them.
[07:38.53]In one speech, Carter blamed the country’s troubles on what he called a crisis of confidence. Some listeners were offended.
[07:48.79]He also decided that the U.S. would not attend the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.
[07:57.79]The move was meant to punish the Soviet Union for its involvement in Afghanistan.
[08:03.54]But many Americans believed the move mostly hurt young American Olympians.
[08:09.40]The administration also faced other problems.
[08:13.93]The president was never accused of wrongdoing.
[08:17.58]But other high-level officials were.
[08:19.89]So was the president’s brother, Billy.
[08:23.33]As a result, Jimmy Carter’s public image for honesty suffered.
[08:29.52]Then came the Iran hostage crisis.
[08:45.92]The conflict between the United States and Iran had a long history.
[08:51.86]One part involved the Shah of Iran.
[08:55.92]The U.S. government had supported his rise to power, partly because American interests wanted to control Iran’s oil.
[09:05.07]But the Shah severely abused his power.
[09:08.77]Many Iranians resisted. Some wanted a leader who would more closely obey Islamic teachings.
[09:17.07]In 1979, under pressure from those Iranians and others, the Shah fled the country.
[09:24.56]By now, he was suffering from cancer.
[09:28.09]So, as a humanitarian act, President Carter permitted the Shah to come to the United States for medical treatment.
[09:37.26]The move made many Iranians angry.
[09:40.38]In protest, a group of students seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran, the capital of Iran.
[09:47.31]They took 90 people, including 66 Americans, hostage.
[09:53.61]Carter worked hard to get the hostages released.
[09:57.26]He tried diplomatic negotiations and economic restrictions.
[10:02.41]But his efforts did not work.
[10:04.99]Finally, he tried a secret military operation.
[10:09.39]He sent eight helicopters and a team of special forces to enter the embassy and rescue the hostages.
[10:17.85]But that operation failed, too.
[10:20.49]The weather was bad.
[10:22.91]Three of the helicopters crashed.
[10:25.28]Eight Americans were killed.
[10:28.20]And the public’s approval of Jimmy Carter dropped even more.
[10:33.12]After 444 days, the remaining hostages were released.
[10:38.52]In exchange, the U.S. government agreed to end some of its economic sanctions against Iran and promised not to interfere in the country’s affairs.
[10:51.56]None of the hostages had been seriously hurt.
[10:55.80]But the crisis was the final blow to Carter’s presidency.
[11:01.08]A few months before they were released, his effort to seek re-election failed.
[11:22.52]As president, Carter did not meet the high expectations he had set for himself.
[11:31.51]And he faced some unusually difficult situations.
[11:35.80]His presidency also suffered from his problems communicating effectively with Congress, the media, and the American people.
[11:46.72]But his four years as president did leave several marks on the office.
[11:52.24]For one, he showed that the U.S. president could help other nations and sides resolve their disputes.
[12:01.15]Carter’s best-known success as president was his help negotiating the Camp David Accords.
[12:08.63]The accords were a peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.
[12:14.11]Carter led the talks at Camp David in Maryland.
[12:18.13]Carter’s efforts to protect human rights overseas also influenced the foreign policy of later presidents.
[12:26.92]In time, his work as a defender of human rights has become his most important legacy.
[12:34.06]Several years after leaving the presidency, he founded the Carter Presidential Center at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
[12:45.08]The center “seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health.”
[12:53.45]In addition to his work there, Carter has helped build houses for people who need them, written books, and negotiated with world leaders to take steps toward peace.
[13:06.66]In 2002, Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.
[13:18.41]I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.