A timeline: Ten of Jimmy Carter’s major accomplishments

Jimmy Carter is the second-oldest living former American president, serving from 1977-1981 While his presidency was not without controversy, some accomplishments were particularly significant President Carter prioritized the Department of Education, moving it out of the Department of Health and Human Services In 1977, Carter established the US Department of Energy after the energy crisis of the 1970s With the Social Security amendments of 1977, Carter shored up solvency of the system In 1977, Carter sele

Being elected president of the United States just once would satisfy most people, but Jimmy Carter has pushed the envelope ever since he was a farm boy dreaming of the Navy. Our AJC colleague Jim Denery drew up this incomplete list of some of Carter’s biggest accomplishments, arranged as well as possible in chronological order:

Military Service

1. As a lieutenant in the Navy in 1952, Carter served under the legendary Adm. Hyman Rickover, helping to develop a nuclear-powered Navy. Bringing things full circle, Carter in 2004 christened the USS Jimmy Carter, a $3.3 billion nuclear submarine.

Governor of Georgia in 1971

2. Carter left the Navy in 1953, following the death of his father, Earl, who died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 58. The elder Carter was a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, and his son eventually followed him into politics. In 1962, after first winning a court fight over voter fraud, Jimmy Carter was elected to the Georgia Senate. In 1971, on his second try, Carter became Georgia’s governor, and in 1976, he won election to become the 39th president of the United States.

Camp David Accords in 1978

3. As president in 1978, Carter mediated negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to produce the Camp David Accords. Under the agreement, Israel agreed to return Egyptian territory conquered during the 1973 war, and Egypt in return extended full diplomatic recognition to Israel. Begin and Sadat won the Nobel Peace Prize for that effort.

The Carter Center

4. Drawing inspiration from his work on the Camp David Accords, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter founded the Carter Center in 1982 in partnership with Emory University. Its mission is to advance peace and health worldwide. The center reports that it has helped to improve life for people in more than 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers to increase crop production.

Fight to end Guinea Worm Disease

5. Through the Carter Center, the former president launched a fight against Guinea worm disease, a devastating tropical infection that incapacitates its victims. The center has announced that the disease, which was estimated in 1986 to affect 3.5 million people, was reduced to 126 cases in 2014. It will likely become the first human disease eradicated since smallpox.

In this image released by the Carter Center, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, left, and his wife Rosalyn smile as they visit a polling station during the Palestinian parliamentary elections in Arab east Jerusalem Wednesday Jan. 25, 2006. Nearly 20,000 local observers and 950 international monitors, led by Carter, watched the vote. (AP Photo/Deborah Hakes, The Carter Center)


icon to expand image


Election observer

6. The Carter Center has also observed 100 elections in 38 countries – Carter himself has observed 39 -- to ensure fairness and to help establish and strengthen democracies. The first was in May 7, 1989, when Carter and former President Gerald Ford traveled to Panama. After that visit, Carter condemned dictator Manuel Noriega for refusing to allow free and open elections, and he called for “a worldwide outcry against a dictator who stole this election from his own people.”

Habitat for Humanity

7. Carter has long been associated with Habitat for Humanity, first working with it in March 1984 when he joined a work crew in building a home for a needy family in Americus. Habitat for Humanity has honored the former president’s efforts for the charity by holding an annual Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. The next one, the 32nd, will take place Nov. 1-6 in Nepal to help that country recover from a massive earthquake.

UN Human Rights Prize in 1998

8. Carter in 1998 was one of five activists from around the world to receive the United Nations' Human Rights Prize. The prize is only awarded every five years.

Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999

9. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter in 1999 received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the U.S. government. President Bill Clinton, in presenting the medal, said, "Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have done more good things for more people in more places than any other couple on the face of the Earth."

Nobel Peace Prize in 2002

10. Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.”


Opinion from Jay Bookman: The most important thing Jimmy Carter did for Georgia

Jimmy Carter appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg to DC Court of Appeals in 1980

Jimmy Carter documentary showcases the ‘rock & roll president’

The story behind the Jimmy Carter Smiling Peanut statue in Georgia

Read more coverage of Jimmy Carter from the AJC