James Earl Carter, Jr. (1924-) was born on this day in Plains, Georgia, a place he described as "the center of my life." A devout Baptist, America's 39th President called his early work as a peanut farmer "outstanding" and claimed his agricultural efforts produced "the best seed peanuts in the country, perhaps the world."
After 11 years as a naval officer, Carter was elected Governor of Georgia in 1970, then President in 1976. He served one term. His administration managed the Panama Canal treaties, the Camp David Accords, and the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
"Politics is hard," he confessed. "It's a brutal environment, but also gratifying."
Writer Peter Bourne observed, "Precisely what made Jimmy Carter so unique and honorable a man made his presidency an uphill battle."
Post-presidency, Carter has tirelessly devoted his time to world peace and human rights, leading by example, not oratory. He pulled out a hammer and built houses for Habitat for Humanity. He led Global 2000 to reduce hunger and disease in Africa, managed the Carter Presidential Center for international conflict resolution, and worked with the Atlanta Project to help solve inner city problems.
Carter's list of accomplishments goes on.
Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, an expert in plant genetics and agricultural research and development for the poor in India, described Carter as "the American Gandhi."
Amid controversy in May 2002, Carter became the first U.S. President--in or out of office--to visit Cuba since Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution.
About his on-going commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering, Carter said, "Everyone has a right to peaceful coexistence, the basic personal freedoms, the alleviation of suffering, and the opportunity to lead a productive life," Carter said.
Give, from the heart, and watch how much you get back.