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  Rosalynn Carter

by John T. Marck

First Lady: 1977 to 1981

Wife of President James Carter

Born: August 18, 1927

Rosalynn Smith was born in Plains, Georgia, the daughter of Edgar and Allie Murray Smith. When Rosalynn was thirteen, her father died of leukemia. Just prior to his death, he had been cared for by "Miss Lillian", Jimmy Carter's mother. Since the Carters and Rosalynn were both from the small town of Plains, Georgia, they knew each other all their lives. Rosalynn, following her father's death, would work at her mother's dressmaking business, sewing, after school to help support her family. She was a bright, ambitious lady, and attended Georgia Southwestern College for two years.

At the age of seventeen, she went on her first date with Jimmy Carter, who at this time was a cadet at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. They soon became engaged and were married in Plains, Georgia on July 7, 1946. For the next seven years they were a typical Navy couple. The Carter's had four children, John William (Jack) born in 1947; James Earl (Chip) born in 1950; Donnel Jeffrey born in 1952; and a daughter, Amy, born many years later in 1967. In 1953, Jimmy's father died, so he left the Navy and returned to Plains to run the family peanut business. Rosalynn, who at first did not like this decision by Jimmy, finally agreed and ended up working with him, keeping the business books.

Upon Jimmy's election to Governor of Georgia, Rosalynn being the mistress, enjoyed having a hard staff of servants, and became involved in civic activities, mental health causes, and equal rights for women. As First Lady she continued this tradition, having a large staff, and working very hard from her White House office.

Rosalynn continued to work for family values, as well as numerous civic activities. Upon the Presidency ending, Rosalynn and Jimmy retired to their home in Plains, Georgia. They both have stayed very active; she continuing her civic work, and Jimmy writing his memoirs, acting as an adviser to other political figures, and speaking at many colleges and universities.

Copyright 1990-2022 by  John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author. From The First Ladies of the United States by John T. Marck.