The Dark-Horse Candidate

President James Earl Carter Jr.'s Time in Office

Election of Carter

  • Republican Party candidate: Gerald Ford
  • Democratic party candidate: peanut farmer from Georgia, James Earl Carter, Jr.
  • Carter served on state's government from 1971-75
  • Insisted on "Jimmy" as his first name; touched many people with his sincerity
  • Ran against memory of Nixon and Watergate as much as running against Ford
  • Effective pitch: "I'll never lie to you."
  • Seen as outsider who would bring order back to White House
  • Carter barely squeezed by with 51% of the popular vote
  • Carter earned 297 electoral college votes versus 240 for Ford
  • Carter also won over every state except Virginia
  • 97% whom cast ballots for Carter were African-Americans

Humanitarian Efforts

  • Stressed "human rights" as guiding principle in foreign policy due to being committed Christian
  • In Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and South Africa, succeeded in aiding oppressed black majority alongside U.N. ambassador Andrew Young
  • September 1978: Invited President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel to conference at Camp David Accords
  • September 17, 1978: After serving 13 days as middle man, persuaded the two to sign writing of considerable peace
  • Israel agreed to withdraw victory gained from 1967 war; Egypt promised to honor Israel's borders
  • Early 1979: Resumed full diplomatic relations with China
  • Also proposed two treaties to give complete ownership and control of Panama Canal to Panamanians by 2000

Economic and Energy Issues

  • 1974: Oil prices crippled from OPEC
  • Bill for imported oil deeply wounded America's payment balances as more money was spent on foreign products than selling own
  • "Oil shocks" demonstrated economic isolation policy could never again be considered seriously
  • By end of century, 27% of GNP relied on foreign trade
  • January 1979: Mohammed Reza Pahlevi's regime overthrown and violent revolution broke out
  • United States seen as "Great Satan" and raged chaos among Iran which spread to oil fields
  • Iranian oil shortages commenced and OPEC spiked petroleum prices
  • As a result, Americans once again waited in long lines at gas stations while also only buying gas on certain days

Beginning of the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979

  • June 1979: Carter visited with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in Vienna to sign SALT II agreements
  • Meeting rose hopes for a less dangerous world
  • Conservative critics remained deeply suspicious of Soviet Union and unleashed fury when SALT II treaty came to Senate in summer of 1979
  • November 4, 1979: Anti-American Muslim militants attacked U.S. embassy in Teheran, Iran and took occupants hostage
  • Captors demanded exiled shah be returned from United States
  • Iranian government refused to act against militiaman
  • Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini accused U.S. of being the mastermind behind attack on Mecca
  • December 27, 1979: Soviets entered Afghanistan appearing ready to fight
  • Carter enacted embargo on grain exports and machinery to USSR
  • Carter also called for boycott of Olympic Games in Moscow and creation of "Rapid Deployment Force"
  • Encouraged young people, including women, to sign up for possible draft and that U.S. would defend Persian Gulf from Soviets at all costs
  • SALT II treaty lost importance and worthiness of being signed in Senate
  • Iranian hostage crisis humiliated country as American flag torched in Iran
  • Carter ordered rescue mission that failed due to equipment failures killing eight of the rescuers
  • Rescue failure foreshadowed prolonging stalemate with Iran and Carter's struggle for reelection