Atlanta Stories and Tips

Jimmy Carter: The Early Years

Fountain in Front of the Jimmy Carter Center Photo, Atlanta, Georgia

The beginning of our tour of the Jimmy Carter Museum and Library in Atlanta began with an exhibit on his early life in Plains, Georgia, a small town of about 650 people in Central Georgia. I have read several of Jimmy Carter's books including The Hour Before Daylight and Sharing Good Times, but there were several more things about Jimmy Carter I learned in the museum during my visit.

James Earl Carter, Jr. was born on October 1, 1924 to James Earl and Lillian Carter. James Carter was a farmer and business owner in town while Miss Lillian, as she was known, was a registered nurse who received payment in livestock more than cash from the residents of Plains who asked for her services. There were four children in the family, and they grew up playing with both white and black children in the area while taking criticism from white farmers for their moderate ways.

Jimmy Carter was a good student during his school years and after graduation from high school, Carter went onto junior college in Georgia while waiting for his appointment to Annapolis and the Naval Academy. The exhibit has many family photos and his high school photo for all to see. Two years into college, Carter was admitted to Annapolis where he excelled and graduated in 1948. During his time in Annapolis, Jimmy Carter met Rosalynn Smith, a local girl who would become his wife in 1947. Rosalynn's wedding dress, a simple white dress with a navy blue short-sleeved jacket, and Jimmy Carter's dress whites that he wore on his wedding day are on display on mannequins in the museum.

After 6 years touring around the world with the Navy, Jimmy Carter resigned from the Navy when his father died of Pancreatic Cancer, a disease that would take the lives of all of Carter's siblings and Miss Lillian. Jimmy didn't consult Rosalynn about his resignation until the last minute and was in her dog house for a while after doing so.

Jimmy and Rosalynn brought up their four children in Plains and Jimmy became involved in local politics that led to his running for Governor in 1966 (he lost) and successfully in 1970. Once again, Jimmy failed to consult with Rosalynn about running for office in 1966 and was in her dog house for a while again! I'll bet Jimmy Carter now consults with Rosalynn whenever he is off to save the world!

There are several other things that Jimmy Carter accomplished in his early life, but one has to visit the Jimmy Carter Museum and Library themselves in order to experience his extraordinary life and accomplishments!

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