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A Full Life
Reflections at Ninety
- Read in 18 minutes
- Audio & text available
- Contains 11 key ideas
A Full Life (2015) is former president Jimmy Carter’s most recent autobiography, in which he recounts his formative experiences. From peanut farmer in the Deep South to the 39th president of the United States, the 90-year-old Nobel Peace Prize recipient recounts the issues that remain most important to him, including human rights and world peace.
Key idea 1 of 11
Jimmy Carter grew up on a farm in America’s Deep South.
Jimmy Carter had a humble start in life. He was born in 1924 in Plains, South Georgia – population 500. Soon after his birth his parents moved to a farm, where his three siblings would later be born.
The Carter family owned land in a community near Plains called Archery, with a population of about 200, and rented portions of their land to local families. They farmed cotton, corn and peanuts among other crops.
Carter grew up working in the field, learning to make his own toys and even selling the peanuts he harvested, packing them in small paper bags and then pedaling them to the train station and around the neighborhood. At the age of only five, Carter began his first job helping his father, James Earl Carter, with blacksmithing.
Carter’s parents were well-respected by the community. He revered his father, who was a talented and self-sufficient man. James Earl was a church deacon, a member of the board of education and dedicated to developing education statewide.
Besides farming and running a warehouse business, James Earl was quite industrious: he had learned shoemaking, carpentry and blacksmithing, and also sold homemade ketchup, sausage and dairy products.
His mother, Bessie Lillian Gordy, was a registered nurse who often treated patients without the aid of a doctor, sometimes working 20-hour days in their homes. During the Great Depression, she accepted payment in whatever form her patients could afford, be that eggs, chickens or yard work, and never treated anyone differently based on what they had.
Work on the farm was a family affair for the Carters, something that Jimmy would later rely upon in his campaigns.