Jimmy Carter Marries Rosalynn Smith

The Smith family had been close to the Carters for years and she was good friends with Jimmy's sister, Ruth.

Rosalynn always claimed that she had had a crush on Ruth's brother for years but never seemed to be able to get him to notice her. She finally succeeded when U.S. Naval Academy Midshipman Jimmy Carter came home on leave. They were married in 1946 and spent the next seven years as a military family while Jimmy served in the Navy. In 1953, they returned to Plains, following the death of Jimmy's father. They took on the responsibility of running the Carter family peanut business. In business, as later in politics, Rosalynn and Jimmy were partners. Together, they made a formidable team. Rosalynn did the bookkeeping (four sets of books and a master) and tax returns. One her own, she studied the accounting and tax laws.

Times were difficult, but Rosalynn completed high school and enrolled in Georgia Southwestern College at Americus. In 1945, after her freshman year, she first dated Jimmy Carter, who was home from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. Their romance progressed, and in 1946 they were married.

The young couple went to Norfolk, Virginia, Ensign Carter's first duty station after graduation. The Navy kept them on the move. Their sons were born in different places: John William in Virginia, James Earl III in Hawaii, and Donnel Jeffrey in Connecticut. The Carters' only daughter, Amy Lynn, was born in Georgia in 1967.

Rosalynn had known the Carters of Plains, later saying that she had had a crush for years on Jimmy Carter. They began dating in 1945 while he was visiting Plains during his time at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. They married in 1946, and until 1953, traveled as part of his Naval career.
It was during these years of Jimmy's military service that their first three children were born. Rosalynn continued her education in those years, primarily through home study courses. In 1953, when his father died, Jimmy Carter left the Navy to run his family's peanut and warehouse business. Rosalynn Carter handled the financial records of the business.