Rosalynn Carter is best remembered as the life partner of Jimmy Carter – former US president. Her tenure as the US first lady commenced in 1977 and lasted till 1981 as her husband’s tenure as the president ended with a single term after he lost his second bid to Ronald Regan. Rosalynn was a pillar of support to her spouse during his heydays as a politician and also came out in support of several social courses.
Her major concern was the area of mental health and she worked assiduously in a bid to reduce the stigma that comes with psychological disorders like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Through the 1960s to the 70s, Mrs. Carter stood in support of her husband’s political career from senator to the governor until he emerged as the 39th US president. In addition to supporting mental wellbeing, Rosalynn Carter also advocated for women rights and has been very much active in social activism till date. She will be remembered as one of the most politically and socially active first ladies in American history; she was also one of the most generous as well as strong-willed.
Who Is Rosalynn Carter?
Upon her birth on the 18th of August 1927 in Plains Georgia where she’d also grow up, she was named Eleanor Rosalynn Smith. Rosalynn Carter had humble beginnings as the oldest child of Wilburn Edgar Smith and Allie Murray Smith, her father’s source of income was through farm work and his job as a mechanic which was barely enough for the family’s sustenance.
Thus, Rosalynn Carter spent her formative years in poverty, but according to the former US first lady, her parents were quite adept at protecting their children from knowing what poverty really feels like. Their locality was an impoverished one where every family struggled to put food on the table. The young Rosalynn had not any girls to play with so she was only exposed to boys, and perhaps that is where her strong will came from.
She lost her dad to leukemia at age 13 and being the first of four children, Rosalynn Carter had to assist her mum with taking care of the family. Though she was quite good with academics, the young Rosalynn went on to work as a hairstylist to support her siblings.
The former US first lady achieved her early academic qualifications from Plains High School where she studied hard in a bid to fulfill her late dad’s wish of seeing her through college. Rosalynn Carter always had an interest in buildings which engendered the believe that she would end up as an architect. She subsequently joined Georgia Southwestern College but later dropped out because of financial constraints. However, Mrs. Carter still achieved her dreams of accomplishing a degree after marriage as she went to study arts and literature as a married woman
Her Relationship with Jimmy Carter
Even before going to college, Rosalynn Carter was already in a relationship with Jimmy Carter, as at then, Jimmy was a student of the Annapolis Naval Academy. The duo was really going strong but Rosalynn who was just 18 had to turn Jimmy’s marriage proposal down when he asked for her hand in December 1945. Her reasons being that she was still too young for matrimony; however, she had a rethink when the proposal came for the second time after two months and decided to become Mrs. Carter, and subsequently, the unflinching support system of an inscrutable politician Jimmy Carter.
Rosalynn Carter accompanied her new husband to numerous US naval bases, and for the ensuing seven years, the couple welcomed three children and at the same time, Rosalynn was studying for a degree in arts and literature.
Upon the death of Jimmy’s father in 1953, he exited from the US Navy and returned home to the Plains to take up his dad’s peanut business, while his wife did the bookkeeping. In the meantime, Jimmy was already developing an interest in governance, and he started vying for a seat in Georgia’s senate. Rosalynn Carter’s husband was finally elected as a senator in 1961 and while he pursued a career in politics, his wife took charge of the home front which included the peanut business as well as his entire political correspondence all through Jimmy’s two successive terms as a senator.
Rosalynn Carter stood by her husband when he contested for the seat of Georgia’s governor and took charge of the duties that befell her as the first lady upon his election as governor. She supported her spouse all through his campaign for the presidential elections of 1976 and was recorded as one of the best first ladies in America when he finally emerged as president.