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ABOUT THE WHITE HOUSE * FIRST LADIES



OUR FIRST LADIES:
18th Century
about_first_ladies_marthawashington Martha Washington
about_first_ladies_abigailadams Abigail Adams

19th Century
about_first_ladies_marthajefferson Martha Jefferson
about_first_ladies_dolleymadison Dolley Madison
about_first_ladies_elizabethmonroe Elizabeth Monroe
about_first_ladies_louisaadams Louisa Adams
about_first_ladies_racheljackson Rachel Jackson
about_first_ladies_hannahvanburen Hannah Van Buren
about_first_ladies_annaharrison Anna Harrison
about_first_ladies_letitiatyler Letitia Tyler
about_first_ladies_juliatyler Julia Tyler
about_first_ladies_sarahpolk Sarah Polk
about_first_ladies_margarettaylor Margaret Taylor
about_first_ladies_abigailfillmore Abigail Fillmore
about_first_ladies_janepierce Jane Pierce
about_first_ladies_harrietlane Harriet Lane
about_first_ladies_marylincoln Mary Lincoln
about_first_ladies_elizajohnson Eliza Johnson
about_first_ladies_juliagrant Julia Grant
about_first_ladies_lucyhayes Lucy Hayes
about_first_ladies_lucretiagarfield Lucretia Garfield
about_first_ladies_ellenarthur Ellen Arthur
about_first_ladies_francescleveland Frances Cleveland
about_first_ladies_carolineharrison Caroline Harrison
about_first_ladies_francescleveland Frances Cleveland
about_first_ladies_idamckinley Ida McKinley


20th Century
about_first_ladies_edithroosevelt Edith Roosevelt
about_first_ladies_helentaft Helen Taft
about_first_ladies_ellenwilson Ellen Wilson
about_first_ladies_edithwilson Edith Wilson
about_first_ladies_florenceharding Florence Harding
about_first_ladies_gracecoolidge Grace Coolidge
about_first_ladies_louhoover Lou Hoover
about_first_ladies_eleanorroosevelt Eleanor Roosevelt
about_first_ladies_besstruman Elizabeth Truman
about_first_ladies_mamieeisenhower Mamie Eisenhower
about_first_ladies_jacquelinekennedy Jacqueline Kennedy
about_first_ladies_ladybirdjohnson Claudia Johnson
about_first_ladies_patnixon Patricia Nixon
about_first_ladies_bettyford Elizabeth Ford
about_first_ladies_rosalynncarter Rosalynn Carter
about_first_ladies_nancyreagan Nancy Reagan
about_first_ladies_barbarabush Barbara Bush
about_first_ladies_hillaryclinton Hillary Clinton

21st Century
about_first_ladies_laurabush Laura Bush
administration_michelle_obama Michelle Obama



ROSALYNN SMITH CARTER
b.1927

"She's the girl I want to marry," Jimmy Carter told his mother after his first date with 17-year-old Rosalynn Smith, who had grown up as a friend and neighbor of the Carter family in Plains, Georgia.

Born in Plains on August 18, 1927, Rosalynn was the first of four children in the family of Allethea Murray Smith and Wilburn Edgar Smith. She grew up in a small-town atmosphere that nurtured strong ties to family and dedication to church and community. When she was 13, her father died and her mother became a dressmaker to help support the family. As the oldest child, Rosalynn worked beside her mother, helping with the sewing, the housekeeping, and the other children.

Times were difficult, but Rosalynn completed high school and enrolled in Georgia Southwestern College at Americus. In 1945, after her freshman year, she first dated Jimmy Carter, who was home from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. Their romance progressed, and in 1946 they were married.

The young couple went to Norfolk, Virginia, Ensign Carter's first duty station after graduation. The Navy kept them on the move. Their sons were born in different places: John William in Virginia, James Earl III in Hawaii, and Donnel Jeffrey in Connecticut. The Carters' only daughter, Amy Lynn, was born in Georgia in 1967.

When his father died in 1953, Jimmy left the service, and the Carters returned to Plains to run the family business. Managing the accounts of the peanut, fertilizer, and seed enterprise, Rosalynn soon found herself working full-time.

Jimmy entered politics in 1962, winning a seat in the Georgia Senate. Rosalynn, an important member of his campaign team, helped develop support for her husband's successful bid for the governorship of Georgia in 1970. During his Presidential campaigns, Rosalynn traveled independently throughout the United States. Her belief in her husband's ability to lead the nation was communicated in a quiet, friendly manner that made her an effective campaigner.

A skillful speaker and a hardworking First Lady, Mrs. Carter managed routine duties and special projects in her office in the East Wing. She attended Cabinet meetings and major briefings, frequently represented the Chief Executive at ceremonial occasions, and served as the President's personal emissary to Latin American countries.

As First Lady, she focused national attention on the performing arts. She invited to the White House leading classical artists from around the world, as well as traditional American artists. She also took a strong interest in programs to aid mental health, the community, and the elderly. From 1977 to 1978, she served as the Honorary Chairperson of the President's Commission on Mental Health.

After returning home, Mrs. Carter wrote her autobiography, First Lady From Plains, published in 1984. She is currently vice chair of The Carter Center in Atlanta, founded in 1982 to promote peace and human rights worldwide. At the Center, she leads a program to diminish stigma against mental illness and to promote greater access to mental health care. She also is a partner with the ex-president in projects to resolve conflict, promote human rights, improve global health, and build democracy in some 65 countries.


Click about_presidents_jimmycarter here to read the biography of President Jimmy Carter.

Learn more about Mrs. Carter at the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum and The Carter Center.

MD5: 91f8ff063cdd6a1d3aee212a640b7243
Original URL: http://whitehouse.gov/about/first_ladies/rosalynncarter/

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