The American History Podcast

A Program Of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities


History Behind The Headlines: Jimmy Carter, Longest-Living American President

Today, Jimmy Carter passes George H.W. Bush to become the longest-living president in American history at 94 years, 172 days old. His presidency saw some major setbacks including inflation, energy crisis, war in Afghanistan, and the Iran hostage crisis (which ended 20 minutes after President Reagan took the oath of office).

Nevertheless, Carter’s legacy has been marked by his extraordinary achievements after leaving office, remaining a vocal champion of human rights and an influential voice in American foreign policy.

James Carter Jr. was born in Plains, Georgia in 1924. He served in the United States Navy before taking over his family’s peanut farm following his father’s death. An early and strong supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, Carter formally entered Georgia politics as a Georgia State Senator. He went on to serve as the state’s governor, before his successful presidential run in 1976.

Following his 1980 defeat to Ronald Reagan, Carter established The Carter Center, a philanthropic organization credited with significant global improvements in human rights and public health. Carter’s post-presidential career has raised new possibilities for the public and political role of presidents after office.

Learn more about Jimmy Carter’s post-presidential work and influence, and how it stands within other presidential legacies, in our show “Life After the Oval Office.”