Carter’s Fireside Chat


A plain tan cardigan hangs in the Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta, Georgia. It was the same cardigan Carter wore to his first televised fireside address in February 1977. Despite the words of caution from his staff on wearing it, Jimmy Carter addressed the nation in a cardigan during the height of the fuel shortages in the 1970s. Mocked on the news as ‘community college professor’ and as an officious attempt to play ‘homey’ (Carter’s predecessor Ford was much more lucky in his attempt), Carter nonetheless achieved a symbolic act that came to be identified with his humble Southern roots.

Carter asked the American peopleus all to take a simple step to save energy: turn down the thermostat, and put on a sweater. Few remembered his message but his cardigan, it became a cultural icon.


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