10 Major Accomplishments of Jimmy Carter
76th Governor of Georgia and later 39th president of the United States, Jimmy Carter (1924- ) played a crucial role in world politics when he brokered a peace deal between Israel and Egypt at Camp David in 1978.
But for the stagflation (a combination of slow economic growth, rising unemployment, and high inflation) that rocked the nation in the final two years of his presidency, President Carter would probably have secured a second term in the White House.
In the article below, Worldhistoryedu.com explores the 10 major accomplishments of Jimmy Carter, the 39th POTUS:
- Jimmy Carter led the clean-up/maintenance crew that managed the nuclear meltdown in one of the experimental NRX reactors of Atomic Energy of Canada. During the salvage exercise, he drew on all the years of experience he had with the US Navy’s nuclear submarine program. Carter and the clean-up crew literally put their lives in harm’s way as they tried to clear millions of radioactive water that had flooded the reactor’s basement.
Did you know: Carter was very apprehensive about the development of neutron bomb during his presidency owing to the horrific conditions he witnessed at Chalk River Laboratories (Atomic Energy of Canada)?
- Jimmy Carter has long been a champion of racial integration in schools in America. This passion of his was seen beginning around the 1950s, when he encouraged his community to be more tolerant and accept racial integration. Following the U.S. Supreme Court case Brown Board of Education (1954), Carter lobbied very hard to get folks in Plains, Georgia to accept the Court’s ruling. He used his position on the Sumter County School board to propagate this message very effectively.
- As a member of the state of Georgia Senate (between 1963 and 1967), Jimmy Carter was involved in a host of social and economic programs. For example, he served as the chairman of the West Central Georgia Planning and Development Commission where he was responsible for disbursing federal and state grants to a number of social initiatives. In his second term, he was briefly chairman of the Education Committee, where he successfully secured funding for a four-year program at his alma mater – Georgia Southwestern College.
- En route to becoming the 76th Governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter defeated Carl Sanders at the Democratic primary. He went on to defeat Republican George Wallace at the 1970 gubernatorial election. As governor, he was at the forefront of so many initiatives that tackled racial discrimination. Time magazine even featured him in a cover illustration, describing him as the new face of progressiveness in the South. Although very frustrating to the Georgia Senate, he earned the admiration of Georgians for refusing to partake in political favors and back-slapping. He embarked on a restructuring program of the state government in order to reduce cost. He is credited with compressing over 300 state agencies into a little bit fewer than 30. Carter also promoted human rights in the state by establishing Georgia Human Rights Council to tackle issues such as police brutality and other prison reforms.
Did you know: As Georgia’s governor, Jimmy Carter vetoed a very controversial plan by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a dam on the Flint River in Georgia?
- Riding on campaign themes of optimism, change, and equality, Carter secured a good win against incumbent President Gerald Ford in 1976 presidential election. The Ford administration struggled to shake of the fallout from the Watergate scandal of President Nixon, hence providing a comfortable win for the Democrats. In his first few days in office, Carter issued a presidential pardon (Proclamation 4483) to all Vietnam War draft evaders. His first two years in office inspired a sense of trust and calmness not seen in the previous administration.
- In a televised speech on April 18, 1977, President Jimmy Carter announced to the nation that there was an energy crisis. His speech was not to alarm people, but was intended to encourage the nation to use energy efficiently. He also called on major players in the industry to explore new technology and other forms of renewable energy. Carter hoped that all of those initiatives would instill a culture of energy conservation in the United States.
Did you know: Carter took to wearing heavy clothes in the White House in a bid to reduce the executive’s consumption of energy?
- Jimmy Carter is credited with establishing the Department of Energy using the Department of Energy Organization Act of 1977. He signed the act on August 4, 1977 as part of his efforts to arrest the U.S. energy crisis of the 1970s. The department was tasked with coming up with and implementing energy policies. His efforts were also complemented by the Carter energy legislation, which was passed by Congress on October 15, 1978. The legislation lifted a number of regulations in the industry, including in areas concerning the sale of natural gas, price control, and tax credits to consumers that use energy judiciously.
- Carter was instrumental in getting the Camp David Accords across the finish line. The political agreement saw Middle East countries – Egypt and Israel – bury the hatchet after more than three decades of hostilities. The agreement, which was facilitated by Jimmy Carter, saw Egypt’s Anwar Sadaat and Israel’s prime minister Menachem Begin meet up at the country retreat for the U.S. President, Camp David. It remains unknown what negotiations took place during those twelve days in September 1978 at the Camp David; however, Carter was able to convince the two leaders to sign the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty in Washington, D.C. The treaty went a long way in diffusing the Arab-Israeli conflict in the region. Egypt thus became the first Arab state to accept Israel’s statehood and its right to exist.
Did you know: Both leaders of Egypt and Israel – Anwar Sadaat and Prime Minister Begin – were awarded the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize for the peace treaty brokered by Jimmy Carter at Camp David?
- President Carter dialogued with the Soviet Union in an effort to get both countries to halt nuclear testing for an agreed period of time. He was very particular about stopping nuclear tests done underground or in the air. Carter and his advisors struck a deal with the Soviets to demilitarize the Indian Ocean. On June 18, 1979, Carter and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty II (SALT II).
- He established the Carter Center in 1982 to champion human rights across the globe. This non-profit organization remains a very relevant body to this day, fighting for economic equality, social justice and women’s rights. It has presence in over 100 countries, where it often serves as election observers.
Other Achievements of Jimmy Carter:
- His deregulation in the bear industry enabled people to home brew as they could buy materials needed. Prior to that it was illegal to sell malt, yeast and hops to home brewers. This created more jobs in that industry.
- Appointed by President Bill Clinton as peace broker during the North Korea peace talks of 1994, Carter had some negotiations with Kim Il-sung. He was also involved in getting Aijalon Gomes released from North Korea in August 2010.
- As a result of his years of work in the Carter Center, Jimmy Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. That year, he had campaigned very hard to halt George W. Bush’s intention of going to war against Iraq.
- Over his very rich and fulfilling career, he has been bestowed upon several honorary degrees (from universities across the world), accolades and medals for his tireless work in promoting freedom and human rights. In 1998, a nuclear-powered attack submarine was named after him – the USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23). In 1999, President Bill Clinton presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Jimmy Carter has also won a number of Grammy Awards – Best Spoken Word Album in 2006 (Our Endangered Values America’s Moral Crisis), 2015 (A Full Life: Reflections at 90), and 2018 (Faith – A Journey for All).
- The Carter administration also deregulated the airline industry using the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978. Government controls over routes and fares were lifted.
- In addition to establishing the U.S. Department of Education, Carter added over 40,000 children and families to the Head Start program. The program, which is under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works hard to provide early childhood education, health, and nutrition to children and families in low-income category. Some of the Head Start funding also went to migrant children.