First Lady: Eleanor Rosalynn Smith Carter
Eleanor Rosalynn Smith was born on August 18, 1927, in Plains, Georgia, the daughter of Edgar Smith and Frances Allethea Murray. Her father died when she was thirteen, and Rosalynn worked to financially help her mother and family.
Rosalynn was Carter's sister Ruth's best friend, so the pair had known each other for some time before they began dating. They married on July 7, 1946, after Carter graduated from the Academy. Together, the Carters had three sons and one daughter: John William, James Earl III, Donnel Jeffrey, and Amy Lynn, respectively. Their daughter, Amy, was a child while Carter was president and lived in the White House from age nine until thirteen.
Jimmy Carter made a mistake during a 1980 televised debate against Ronald Reagan when he mentioned that he asked his thirteen-year-old daughter, Amy, about the problems facing the world. “I had a discussion with my daughter, Amy, the other day before I came here to ask her what the most important issue was, she said she thought nuclear weaponry.” The Republicans capitalized on this throughout the campaign.
As first lady, Rosalynn was very close to her husband and was one of his closest advisers. In fact, she sat in on many cabinet meetings. She worked hard on behalf of those with mental health issues and was named the honorary chair of the president's Commission on Mental Health. Since leaving the White House, Rosalynn has received many honors, including being placed on the board of advisers for Habitat for Humanity.