The Life Of Jimmy Carter And What The Former President Is Doing Now

Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States of America, began life a poor peanut farmer. He worked hard to support his wife and his four children, and eventually, he began a career in politics. He became the governor of Georgia, and eventually, he won the 1976 election.

Jimmy Carter is still a humble man. Back in his day, he hoped to abolish racism and end segregation. Things have certainly progressed since the ’70s, but we have a long way to go before America is as inclusive as Carter would have liked it to be.

Jimmy Carter’s Slow-Paced Lifestyle

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Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Every Saturday, when former President Jimmy Carter is in Plains, Georgia, he takes a stroll with his wife, Rosalynn. Jimmy and Rosalynn walk for about a half-mile to Jill Stucky’s house. Jill Stucky is one of their oldest friends.

Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter were both born in Plains, Georgia. They still live there to this very day. They look like any other retired couple in Georgia, only they have secret service agents that follow them around.

The Carters Enjoy A Simple Life

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Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

When Jimmy Carter and his wife get to Jill Stuckey’s house, Stuckey will probably serve them a delicious homecooked meal. There won’t be any fine wines or gourmet hors d’oeuvres. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have left the White House behind. They no longer have servants who tend to their every need, and they like it that way.

This couple prefers to live life simply like they did before Jimmy became the leader of the free world.

A Simple Meal With Dear Friends

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Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

While at the White House the president would dine on caviar and expensive cheeses. At Stuckey’s house, the Carters will likely be served a simple meal like Southern barbecue or a casserole with green beans and noodles.

There’s no fancy china or silverware. The couple will eat on regular plates (possibly even paper plates), and they’ll drink water right from the tap. For the Carters, this is way better and more familiar than any banquet dinner.

They Live In A Modest $167,000 House

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Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Jimmy and Rosalynn still live in the home that Carter built himself in 1961. The two-bedroom ranch house has an estimated value of $167,000, below the median home price in Georgia.

Alternatively, former president Barack Obama purchased a $8.1 million mansion in Washington when he left office. But for the Carter’s, they’re happy living in Jimmy’s hometown in the house that he built. At 94 years old, it looks like he’ll stay there.

What Could Have Been

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter smiles as he attends an autograph session for his book
(Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images
(Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images

Other presidents live like multi-millionaires after they vacate the highest office in the country. Carter could have done just that. He and his wife could have lived a life of luxury.

Former presidents can earn thousands of dollars for delivering a single speech at a prestigious event. He could have taken advantage of his position as a former president and cashed in big time. That wouldn’t be in Carter’s nature though. He was never after wealth in that way.

Jimmy Carter’s Net Worth

former President Jimmy Carter interviewed for
Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images
Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

In 2018, Jimmy Carter told The Washington Post, “I don’t see anything wrong with it; I don’t blame other people for doing it. It’s just never had been my ambition to be rich.”

Even though Jimmy Carter lives comfortably, he is nowhere near as rich as some other former presidents. According to Town & Country, his net worth in 2017 was around 7 million dollars. That may seem like a lot, but compared to what his peers are worth, it isn’t all that much.

The Former President’s Early Years

president Jimmy Carter poses with his mother, Lillian, Georgia, 1
Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images
Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images

We’re going to provide some more insight into Jimmy Carter’s current lifestyle, but before we do, let’s take a look back at how this man became the person that he is today.

Jimmy Carter was born on October 1st, 1924 in Plains, Georgia. His mother, Bessie, was a nurse, and his father, James Earl Carter Sr, was a successful businessman who ran a local general store. Jimmy Carter’s paternal grandfather was an immigrant from England.

Jimmy Carter’s Family History

Bill Gates with glasses
Photo Credit: U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services
Photo Credit: U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services

Jimmy Carter can trace his family history back to the 17th century. The first Carter in America came from England in 1635 and settled in Virginia with his family. That Carter relative would go on to have many children and grandchildren.

Jimmy Carter has a few famous relatives who can also trace their history back to that one Carter in 1635. Bill Gates is also a great, great, greatgrandchild of that Carter, and strangely, so is former President Richard Nixon.

His Relation To Cotton Farmers

jimmy carter as a boy
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Jimmy Carter, who is originally from Georgia, can trace his heritage back to generations of cotton farmers in the state. His father must have gotten his entrepreneurial spirit from somewhere.

When Carter was younger, his family moved around a lot. Eventually, the settled down in Archery, Georgia, which is a poor town that’s just a few miles from Plains. Archery was known for being a place where poor people lived. Maybe that’s why Jimmy Carter still likes living below his means.

A Budding Businessman

jimmy carter's old house
Photo Credit: Historic American Buildings Survey via Library of Congress
Photo Credit: Historic American Buildings Survey via Library of Congress

Entrepreneurship seems to run in Jimmy Carter’s family. When he was a teenager, he too became something of a businessman. Jimmy lived in Archery with his three younger siblings for most of his childhood. When he got a bit older, he inherited a little plot of land.

Jimmy took that land and turned it into a profitable peanut farm. He even packed the peanuts and sold them himself. Jimmy was able to turn that crop into something legendary.

His Early School Days

Jimmy(James Earl) Carter as Ensign, USN, circa World War II.
Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images
Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images

Jimmy Carter attended Plains High School. He graduated in 1941 and then enrolled at Georgia Southwestern College in Americus. While in college, Carter studied engineering. After a year of studying engineering, he moved on to Atlanta’s Georgia Institute of Technology.

Carter liked engineering, but what he really wanted to do was serve his country. In 1943 he was accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy near Annapolis, Maryland. Becoming a Navy officer was a dream come true for Carter.

Where He Met The Love Of His Life

Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter attend Former Governor of Georgia Jimmy Carter's fundraiser for his 1976 Presidential run at Royal Coach Inn Atlanta Georgia
Photo By Rick Diamond/Getty Images
Photo By Rick Diamond/Getty Images

While Carter was at the Academy, he became closer to his sister’s friend, Rosalynn Smith. He and Rosalynn started dating and were got married in 1946 after Jimmy graduated from the academy.

After his first date with Rosalynn, Jimmy told his mother that he had met the woman that he was going to marry. Rosalynn didn’t know that Jimmy told his mother this until many years later. Rosalynn and Jimmy had four children together: Jack, James, Donnell, and Amy.

Carter’s Time In The Navy

navy submarine
Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Defense
Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Defense

Jimmy Carter served in the Navy in both the Pacific and Atlantic fleets. He helped guard a variety of locations across America including New York, Virginia, and Hawaii. As Jimmy traveled the country as part of the Navy, his wife, Rosalynn was right there by his side traveling with him.

Carter spent some time on submarines in the Navy. He even trained to serve aboard the U.S.S. Seawolf, the first nuclear submarine in America. He never ended up traveling in it, though.

A Tragedy In The Family

February 1986: Former US President Jimmy Carter in London
Photo by Keystone/Getty Images
Photo by Keystone/Getty Images

Sadly, in the summer of 1953, Jimmy Carter’s father died of cancer. He was just 58 years old. Jimmy Carter had four younger siblings, all of whom have since died from pancreatic cancer.

After his father died, Carter returned to Georgia to take over his family’s peanut farm. Rosalynn didn’t want to go back to Georgia, but she went anyway. She could sense the racism around her in their small town. According to a 2011 Rolling Stone magazine profile, “[Jimmy] and Rosalynn were quiet progressives in a bitterly racist community.”

Truly Humble Beginnings

American politician Jimmy Carter ooks up while shoveling peanuts on a peanut farm,
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When Jimmy and Rosalynn moved back to Plains, Georgia, they lived in public housing. No other American president has ever lived in public housing before taking office. At the time, the couple already had three of their four children. It wasn’t easy to provide for five people, especially after Carter’s first peanut crop failed.

Jimmy and Rosalynn did everything they could to make ends meet. Jimmy worked around the clock to make sure he had enough money to feed his family.

How He Managed To Get By

Portrait of American politician and US Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter on the North Bridge during campaign stop, Concord, Massachusetts,
Photo by Mikki Ansin/Getty Images
Photo by Mikki Ansin/Getty Images

Jimmy Carter took out some loans from the bank and he was able to get himself and his family through those difficult years. Eventually, he left farming and started a career in politics.

In 1962, he won a seat in the Georgia Senate as a Democrat. He was elected to the senate again in 1964, and after that, he decided to run for governor. This man who started off as a poor peanut farmer was quickly gaining status and influence.

A Disappointing Loss

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Mikki Ansin/Getty Images
Mikki Ansin/Getty Images

Jimmy Carter actually lost the first time he ran for governor. Segregationist Lester Maddox won the election and he became the governor for a time. Jimmy returned to peanut farming for a while while he regrouped for the next election.

Carter became more religious, which must have appealed to the population in Georgia because he ended up winning the 1970 Democratic nomination for governor. Jimmy Carter was well on his way to becoming a household name.

A New Era (Or So We Thought)

Louisville, Kentucky, USA - November 23, 1975: Then Governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter stands in front of posters saying 'Let's Elect JIMMY CARTER President' and addresses the National Democratic Issues Convention.
Photo by Mariette Pathy Allen/Getty Images
Photo by Mariette Pathy Allen/Getty Images

In 1971 when Jimmy Carter was elected to be the governor of Georgia, he made a speech that resonated with many people at the time. Carter said, “The time of racial discrimination is over… No poor, rural, weak or black person should ever have to bear the additional burden of being deprived of the opportunity for an education, a job or simple justice,” he declared.

Unfortunately, the time of racial discrimination is still not over, although we applaud Jimmy’s hopeful thinking.

A Decision That Changed His Life

U.S. President Richard M. Nixon sits at a desk, holding papers, as he announces his resignation on television, Washington, D.C.
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Jimmy Carter could only serve as the governor of Georgia for four years, so after his final term was done, he turned his attention to national politics.

Jimmy Carter watched democratic candidate George McGovern lose the presidential election in 1972. Richard Nixon was the serving president, and Jimmy thought he stood a chance of beating him in the next election. That’s when he decided to run for president in 1976. We all know how that worked out.

The National Election

carter and ford
Photo Credit: David Hume Ketterly / Getty Images
Photo Credit: David Hume Ketterly / Getty Images

Carter wasn’t very well known on the national stage in 1974 when he declared that he was going to run for president. First, he had to compete in the democratic primaries. Even though he didn’t have much of a fan base to begin with, he won the primaries and went on to face Nixon in the 1976 race.

Or so he thought… A strange change of events would change the entire course of the 1976 election.

The Watergate Scandal

View of American politicians US President-Elect Jimmy Carter (left) and US Vice President-Elect Walter Mondale as they share a laugh prior to a press conference, Plains, Georgia, November 4, 1976.
Photo by Benjamin E. ‘Gene’ Forte/CNP/Getty Images
Photo by Benjamin E. ‘Gene’ Forte/CNP/Getty Images

Jimmy Carter thought that he would be facing Richard Nixon in the 1976 election, however, when the Watergate scandal broke, Nixon stepped down as president and Gerald Ford stepped into his position.

Carter faced off against Ford in a series of debates, but experts predicted that Carter would win the presidency because people were disillusioned with the Republicans after that whole Watergate thing. Jimmy was a new face, and the people wanted a change.