Energy Crisis

Carter asked the American people to cut down their energy usage during a fireside chat on February 2, 1977. "All of us must learn to waste less energy," Carter said.


Jimmy Carter (archival): Good evening. Tomorrow it will be two weeks since I became president...

Narrator: On February 2, Carter addressed the nation in a fireside chat on energy. The country had been through an oil scare in 1973. To head off a new crisis, Carter appealed directly to Americans to rally around a new program.

Jimmy Carter (archival): All of us must learn to waste less energy. Simply by keeping our thermostats, for instance, at 65 degrees in the daytime and 55 degrees at night, we can save half the current shortage of natural gas. If we learn to live thriftily and remember the importance of helping our neighbors, then we can find ways to adjust.

Narrator: Carter lead by example. He curtailed the use of limousines, cancelled magazine subscriptions, unplugged television sets, and put the presidential yacht Sequoia on the auction block.

Walter Mondale, Vice-President: He turned off the air conditioners, and it was so hot in the White House, people would come in there -- [Laughs]. It was unbelievable. It would be a hundred above in there.

Narrator: To save on staff overtime, all White House functions would end at midnight. No hard liquor would be served.

Hendrik Hertzberg, Speechwriter: Jimmy Carter is a Low Church Protestant, where it's a sin not to have a hard wooden bench to sit on in church.


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  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH

  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH