Senator Kennedy visits Carter at the White House in a last-ditch effort to resolve their differences over national health insurance. Carter wants to phase the program in and make it contingent on the budget. The meeting goes badly and Kennedy accuses the president of a "failure of leadership."
Carter sends Secretary of State Cyrus Vance to the Middle East with invitations to Sadat and Begin to meet with Carter at Camp David. They immediately accept.
The Camp David summit begins.
Begin and Sadat sign the historic Camp David accords.
Congress passes a version of Carter's energy package.
The Democratic Party holds a mid-term conference in Memphis, Tennessee. The Carter administration comes under fire from the liberal wing of the party for its effort to balance the budget at the expense of domestic social programs.
The Carter administration announces that it will normalize relations with the People's Republic of China, completing a process begun by the Nixon administration.
The Shah flees Iran after a year of growing public unrest. Conservative Muslim cleric Ayatollah Khomeini, who had led the popular movement against the Shah, will return triumphantly from exile two weeks later.
Chinese premier Deng Xiaoping arrives in the U.S., where he is warmly received. President Carter warns him against a move into Vietnam, but the Chinese will invade less than a month later.
President Carter journeys to the Middle East in a last-ditch attempt to save the unraveling Camp David agreement. He succeeds after it appears all hope is lost.
Sadat and Begin sign the historic Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty on the White House lawn.
A nuclear reactor accident at the Three Mile Island power plant in Pennsylvania causes widespread alarm. Within days, former nuclear submarine officer Carter visits the damaged reactor to assess the situation and calm fears. The next month, 65,000 demonstrators march on Washington and demand a shutdown of America's nuclear plants. Carter issues a statement saying that it is "out of the question."
President Carter and Soviet Premier Brezhnev sign the SALT II arms control agreement in Vienna.
Carter holds a "domestic summit" at Camp David to address the energy crisis and figure out how to rescue his presidency from record low approval ratings.
In a dramatic, nationally televised address, Carter addresses what he calls a "crisis of confidence" in America. Though initially well-received, many object to the tone of what is soon dubbed the "malaise speech."
President Carter asks his entire cabinet to resign, eventually accepting five.
Truckers blockade expressways and set off the nation's first energy riot in Levittown, Pennsylvania, resulting in two nights of violence. One hundred people are injured and more than 170 arrested.
U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young resigns after a private meeting with a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the latest in a series of controversies.
Carter welcomes Nicaraguan Daniel Ortega and other Sandinista leaders, who have just toppled dictator Anastasio Somoza, to the White House. He provides them with $118 million in aid.
Carter collapses during a road race near Camp David, contributing to a growing public perception that he is weak.
Carter allows the ailing Shah of Iran to enter the U.S. for medical treatment.
Outraged by the Shah's welcome in America, militant students overrun the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, seizing 66 hostages. The 444-day Iranian hostage crisis begins.
Surrounded by his family at Massachusetts' historic Faneuil Hall, Senator Ted Kennedy formally announces he is running for president.
President Carter issues an executive order freezing all Iranian assets in the U.S.
The Iranians release 13 black and female hostages, keeping 53 captive.
Carter officially announces his candidacy for re-election.
The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan.
In response to the Soviets' Afghanistan invasion, Carter asks the Senate to table the SALT II Treaty and recalls Ambassador Thomas Watson from Moscow.
Carter crushes Kennedy in the Iowa caucuses, carrying 98 of 99 counties.
The president announces the "Carter Doctrine" in his State of the Union message. Any Soviet military intervention in the Middle East will be treated as a direct threat to U.S. national security.
Carter beats Kennedy in the New Hampshire primary.
The president urges a boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.
Carter loses the New York primary to Kennedy by 16%.
A hostage rescue mission, called "Desert One," ends in disaster when two helicopters fail, and a third crashes into a plane during takeoff. Several days earlier, Secretary of State Vance had resigned over the decision to proceed with the mission.
The Mount St. Helens volcano in Washington State erupts, killing 57. It is the most destructive eruption in U.S. history.
Republicans nominate former California Governor Ronald Reagan for president. Moderate Illinois congressman John Anderson has already dropped out of the Republican race and entered the presidential contest as a third-party independent.
Carter holds a news conference on "Billygate," the controversy over his brother Billy Carter's dealings with the Libyan government.
The Iranian government indicates they are willing to discuss the release of the hostages.
Ronald Reagan and independent candidate John Anderson debate in Baltimore. Carter refuses to participate because of Anderson's presence.
Iraq invades Iran.
The one and only debate between Carter and Reagan takes place in Cleveland. Reagan effectively brushes aside Carter's attacks by saying, "There you go again," and seals his dominance of the evening with his closing question to voters: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"
The Iranian parliament issues a statement making it clear the hostages will not be released before the election.
Reagan defeats Carter 51% to 41% in the popular vote, and in a landslide of 489 electoral votes to 49.
The hostages are released moments after Ronald Reagan takes the oath of office.
Carter meets the released hostages in Germany.
Egyptian president Sadat visits the Carters in Plains.
Israeli Prime Minister Begin visits Plains.
President Sadat is assassinated. Former president Carter will travel to Cairo with former president Gerald Ford to attend his friend's funeral.
Carter meets with advisers at Sapelo Island to plan the Carter Center.
My American Experience
Who was your favorite 20th-century American president? Was it FDR? Kennedy? Reagan? Or one of the other 14 men who helped usher the United Sates through the 1900s? Who do you think was the most influential?