Memoirs of a President
Publication Year: 1995
Published by: University of Arkansas Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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A First Word
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Immediately after returning home from the White House on January 20,1981, I unpacked eighteen large black volumes of diary notes which Ihad accumulated during my four years as President. Generally, severaltimes a day during my term, I had picked up a miniature tape recorderand dictated my impressions of the people I met and the interesting or...
Tuesday, January 20, 1981
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I had not been to bed since early Sunday morning, and I was discouraged and almost exhausted. Many agonizing hours without sleep had effectively removed any bright visions of the future or vivid memories of the past. I could think only of the current challenge....
II. A Graduate Course in America
A Walk to the White House
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The inaugural parade route stretched before us with tens of thousands of people lining the streets. I leaned forward and told the Secret Service driver to stop the automobile, then touched Rosalynn’s hand and said, “Let’s go!” The security men looked all around, saw only friendly faces, and opened the doors of the long black limousine. As we stepped into...
Lining Up My Team
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Throughout the long primary campaign, I had been determined not to make any early commitments concerning the Vice Presidency or other major positions in the administration. I wanted to keep all my options open. In 1972, I had observed the habit of presidential candidates’ insinuating...
III. An Outside in Washington
My One-Week Honeymoon with Congress
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From that cold morning in January 1975, when I left Plains on my first campaign trip across the United States, until the early morning hours almost two years later, when the final election returns from the state of Mississippi told me that I would be the next President, my confidence never wavered. In fact, what they called the overconfidence of an...
The Moral Equivalent of War
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When I declared the energy effort to be the moral equivalent of war—a phrase coined by William James and suggested to me by Admiral Hyman Rickover—it was impossible for me to imagine the bloody legislative battles we would have to win before the major campaign was over....
The Bert Lance Affair
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As I look back on our campaign, it would be difficult to list all the factors that gave us our victory in 1976 against such great initial odds. Careful planning, hard work, and unswerving determination, a willingness to go into all states and win every available delegate, solid support from key black leaders, loyalty of the Southern voters to me as one of their own, the...
IV. On the Same Earth
Speaking Out for Human Rights
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I know how easy it is to overlook the persecution of others when your own rights and freedoms are not in jeopardy. I grew up in south Georgia within a legally segregated society, and to the extent that I or my elders felt any responsibility at all for the status of my black playmates, the “separate but equal” ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court seemed sufficient. As a child, I...
"Jimmy Carter is Giving Away Our Canal!"
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Twenty-one years before I was born, an event took place at the home of then Secretary of State John Hay that was later to confront me with the most difficult political battle I had ever faced, including my long cam - paign for President. On the night of November 18, 1903, a treaty was...
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My interest in China was kindled when I was a small boy during the 1930s, studying about Baptist missionaries there and reading letters from my Uncle Tom Gordy, a radioman in the U.S. Navy, for whom China was a frequent port of call. From the slide programs put on by itinerant...
Shadow over the Earth: The Nuclear Threat
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As President, I was periodically given a total listing of all our nuclear weapons, from the smallest tactical shells to the largest bombs and missile warheads. Even more frequently I received a fairly accurate listing of the Soviet nuclear armaments. It was always obvious that both nations had..
V. No More War
October 6, 1981
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Almost exactly eight years after the last major conflict in the Middle East, I was at home in Plains, studying my diary notes about the Camp David negotiations for these memoirs when the telephone call came. I quickly brought Amy’s miniature television set into my study, and also placed a...
Israeli Security, Land, and Palestinian Rights
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Looking back, it is remarkable to see how constantly the work for peace
in the Middle East was on my agenda, and on my mind.
My interest in the region had not begun when I moved into the White House. I had made an extensive visit through Israel in May 1973, while I was still Governor of Georgia, invited by Prime Minister Golda...
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It was an especially beautiful evening in one of the loveliest places on earth. We were staying for a few days of rest in the Brinkerhoff Lodge on the edge of Jackson Lake in Wyoming. The Grand Tetons rose into the clear sky across the water—some of our newest and most unweathered mountains, the sharp peaks a breathtaking spectacle. Earlier in the day, I...
After Camp David
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In spite of the general euphoria in many places, there were still some immediate problems. I realized, of course, how important it was to involve the other Arab leaders as soon as possible, particularly King Hussein and the Saudi rulers. While at Camp David, President Sadat had...
VI. Iran and the Last Year
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On the south lawn of the White House, I stood and wept. Tears were streaming down the faces of more than two hundred members of the press. It was a memorable moment. In the distance we could hear the faint but unmistakable sounds of a mob, shouting at the mounted police...
A Hard Winter
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The first week of November 1979 marked the beginning of the most diffi cult period of my life. The safety and well-being of the American hostages became a constant concern for me, no matter what other duties I was performing as President. I would walk in the White House gardens early in the morning and lie awake at night, trying to think of additional...
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The confrontations with the Iranians over the hostages and with the Soviets concerning Afghanistan were not my only responsibilities in that part of the world. I was also trying to preserve the benefits of the Camp David accords and the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, and to protect these...
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I have a lot of problems on my shoulders but, strangely enough, I feelbetter as they pile up. My main concern is propping up the peoplearound me who tend to panic (and who might possibly have a betterThe reaction of the Iranians to the rescue mission was mixed. At first,they were confused and frightened about the nature of the American mili-...
The Election of 1980
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Reagan is different from me in almost every basic element of commit-Republican party now is sharply different from what the Democraticparty is. And I might add parenthetically that the Republican partyThe convention marked the end of my downward spiral in the polls. OnAugust 18, Rosalynn’s birthday, we learned that Reagan’s lead of 25...
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The morning after the election, I woke with a full realization of what had occurred. During the early hours I thought about some of the decisions I would have to make about my life. I had to face the reality of personal and official challenges. As had been my custom for many years at such moments, I turned to Charles Kirbo and Rosalynn for advice. We sat...
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Immediately after I left the White House, I began researching and writing this personal account of my presidency. Therefore it has the virtue of reflecting my opinions at a time close to the events it describes. I was especially concerned that the peace process in the Middle East be explained in detail and, in fact, considered publishing this first, rather...
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Page Count: 284
Publication Year: 1995