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Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter celebrate 76 years of marriage

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter celebrated their 76th marriage anniversary on Thursday. They are the longest-married presidential couple in the history of the United States.

Wedded on July 7, 1946, the former president and first lady made plans to enjoy a quiet anniversary for their marriage that has lasted over three-quarters of a century. This follows a party in their hometown of Plains, Georgia, last year for their 75th anniversary that was attended by such political figures as former President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Jimmy Carter is now 97, while his wife is 94 and has a birthday coming up next month. The former president was a 21-year-old U.S. Naval Academy graduate when he married Rosalynn Carter, who was 18 at the time. “The best thing I ever did was marrying Rosalynn,” Jimmy Carter said in 2015. “That’s the pinnacle of my life.”

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The couple took over the Carter family peanut farm, and in 1962, Jimmy Carter won a bid for a seat in the Georgia Senate, part of a political career in which he went on to win the 1970 Georgia gubernatorial election and the presidential election in 1976. Carter, whose Democratic administration was rocked by rising inflation and the Iran hostage crisis, among other snags, was soundly defeated by Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter
Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, former first lady, Rosalynn Carter.

(AP Photo/John Bazemore, Pool)

During the Carter presidency, Rosalynn Carter became an advocate of mental health and was active as the honorary chairwoman of the President’s Commission on Mental Health, which helped pass the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980. After leaving the White House, the couple co-founded the Carter Center, an organization dedicated to educating the public and furthering human rights initiatives. The couple has also been active in helping build affordable housing with Habitat for Humanity, and the former president for a long time taught a Sunday school class at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains. Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

The National Park Service’s Jimmy Carter National Historical Park in Plains saw an increased number of visitors this week for the anniversary, mostly from well-wishers hoping to send congratulatory messages to the couple, Jill Stuckey, the park’s superintendent, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The park, established in 1987, wished the couple a happy anniversary on social media.

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The Carters’ 76 years of marriage is followed by former president George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, who were married for 73 years and 102 days until Barbara Bush’s death in April 2018. George H.W. Bush died later that year, in November.

The average length of marriage in the U.S. is between seven to eight years, according to Weinman & Associates.

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