1894: Georgia to the White House: 1894-1976

Jimmy Carter's father, James Earl Carter, is born in Arlington, Georgia. His family had emigrated to America from England in 1635, then settled in Georgia in 1780.


Jimmy Carter's mother, Lillian Gordy, is born in Richland, Georgia.


Lillian Gordy is accepted into the nursing program at the Wise Clinic in Plains, Georgia, where she meets Earl Carter.

September 26, 1923

Earl and Lillian marry.

Carter as a baby
Jimmy Carter Library

Carter as a baby with his mother
October 1, 1924

James Earl Carter Jr. is born in Plains, Georgia, the first American president born in a hospital.

August 18, 1927

Rosalynn Smith is born in Plains, Georgia.


The Carters move from a house in Plains to a farm in Archery, a couple of miles away.

Carter in uniform
Jimmy Carter National Historic Site

Carter in Naval uniform

In the middle of World War II, Carter receives an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. He will leave for Annapolis the following June.

June 1946

Carter graduates from Annapolis. He is assigned to the U.S.S. Wyoming out of Norfolk, Virginia.

July 7, 1946

Jimmy Carter marries Rosalynn Smith.

July 3, 1947

The Carters' first child, John William ("Jack"), is born in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Officer training school
Robert W. Woodruff Library, Emory University

Officer Training School
June 1948

The Carters move to New London, Connecticut, when Carter is accepted into a six-month submarine officer training school.

March 1949

Jimmy is assigned to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Rosalynn and son Jack join him a week later.

April 12, 1950

The Carters' second child, James Earl III ("Chip"), is born in Honolulu, Hawaii.

June 1950

The Carters move to San Diego, California.

A navy submarine
Naval Historical Society

A navy submarine
July 1, 1951

Carter arrives in New London, Connecticut, as the senior officer of the pre-commissioning detail on the K-1, the Navy's first new ship since the end of World War II.

June 1, 1952

Carter is accepted into Admiral Hyman Rickover's elite nuclear submarine program.

August 18, 1952

The Carters' third child, Donnel Jeffrey ("Jeff"), is born in New London, Connecticut.

November 1952

Carter is sent to the Naval Reactors Branch of the Atomic Energy Commission in Washington, D.C. Rosalynn moves with the kids to Schenectady, New York, where Jimmy will work on the U.S.S. Seawolf, one of the first two U.S. nuclear submarines.

December 12, 1952

A nuclear reactor in Chalk River, Canada, suffers a meltdown. Carter is a member of the team dispatched to the site.

Earl Carter
Jimmy Carter National Historic Site

Earl Carter

Jimmy's father, Earl Carter, dies of pancreatic cancer.


October 9, 1953

Carter is honorably discharged from the Navy. The Carters move back to Plains, Georgia, to take over his father's business.

May 17, 1954

The Supreme Court rules against segregation in public schools in Brown v. Board of Education. Chief Justice Earl Warren delivers the landmark opinion.


The Carters find themselves near the front lines of the civil rights movement when Martin Luther King Jr. comes to nearby Albany, Georgia, prompting resistance from segregationists.

March 26, 1962

In ruling on Baker vs. Carr, the Supreme Court establishes what becomes known as the "one man, one vote" rule. It will have a major impact on Georgia politics, which up to this time had been largely under the control of local political bosses.

Carter election poster
Jimmy Carter Library

Carter election poster
October 1, 1962

Carter tells Rosalynn he plans to run for the state senate.

October 16, 1962

Carter loses the primary by 139 votes to Homer Moore, and decides to ask for a recount.

November 2, 1962

A recount committee rules in Carter's favor and orders a new election, which Carter will win by 831 votes four days later.

Carter is sworn in
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Carter is sworn in
January 14, 1963

The General Assembly session opens in Atlanta. Jimmy Carter is sworn in as state senator.

Spring 1966

Carter's mother, 68-year-old Lillian Carter, announces she is joining the Peace Corps.

Carter runs for governor
Robert W. Woodruff Library, Emory University

Carter runs for governor
June 12, 1966

Carter announces he is running for governor.

September 15, 1966

Carter loses the Democratic primary for governor. Though severely disappointed, he immediately tells supporters he will run again -- and win -- in 1970.

Several weeks later, he takes a long walk with his sister Ruth, an evangelical Christian. The walk marks the beginning of his "born again" experience.

October 19, 1967

The Carters' fourth child, Amy Lynn, is born in Plains, Georgia.

May 1968

Carter and several friends drive to Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, to "witness" for Christ. Carter will make a subsequent trip to Springfield, Massachusetts for the same purpose.

April 3, 1970

Carter formally announces he is running for governor of Georgia, challenging frontrunner and former governor Carl Sanders.

Campaigning for Carter
Jimmy Carter Library

Campaigning for Carter
September 9, 1970

Carter wins 48.6% of the vote in the Democratic primary, beating Sanders. Two weeks later, he wins a runoff with 60% of the vote.

November 3, 1970

Carter wins 60% of the vote to defeat his Republican opponent, businessman Hal Suit. Arch-segregationist Lestor Maddox is elected lieutenant governor.

January 12, 1971

Carter is sworn in as governor of Georgia. In his inaugural address, he shocks the audience and gains national attention by unequivocally declaring that "the time for racial discrimination is over."

February 15, 1971

Carter signs a bill into law that gives the governor authority to propose government reorganization.

February 21, 1971

At midnight, after a long and bitter political battle, the Georgia Assembly passes Carter's government reorganization plan.

May 31, 1971

Governor Carter appears on the cover of Time magazine, as a representative of the "New South." His politics contrast with those of Southern segregationists like George Wallace.

July 8, 1972

Carter arrives at the Democratic National Convention in Miami. Though he had been identified with the movement to stop the nomination of George McGovern, behind the scenes Carter lobbies -- unsuccessfully -- to be McGovern's running mate.

October 17, 1972

Carter discusses running for president in 1976 with his advisers, including Hamilton Jordan, Peter Bourne, and Gerald Rafshoon.

Richard Nixon
National Archives

Richard Nixon
November 5, 1972

President Richard Nixon wins re-election handily over Democrat George McGovern.


Governor Carter appears on the television show What's My Line? The panel is unable to guess his job.

March 5, 1973

Democratic Party chairman Robert Strauss appoints Carter national campaign chairman for the Democratic National Committee. It is the opening Carter needs to forge national connections.

May 1973

The Carters travel to Europe and Israel. Jimmy meets New York governor Nelson Rockefeller and impresses him so much that Rockefeller recommends Carter for the newly-founded Trilateral Commission, an organization that seeks to bring together North American, Western European, and Japanese opinion leaders.

May 4, 1974

Senator Ted Kennedy is the featured speaker at the unveiling of a portrait of former secretary of state and Georgia native Dean Rusk at the University of Georgia. Carter upstages Kennedy -- and impresses Rolling Stone journalist Hunter S. Thompson -- with an impassioned speech about the importance of politics as a vehicle for social justice.

September 23, 1974

Senator Kennedy announces he will not run for president.

November 1974

A Harris poll lists 35 potential presidential candidates. Jimmy Carter is not one of them.

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