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Thomas H. Carter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thomas Carter
Carter in 1910
United States Senator
from Montana
In office
March 4, 1905 – March 3, 1911
Preceded byParis Gibson
Succeeded byHenry L. Myers
In office
March 4, 1895 – March 3, 1901
Preceded byThomas Power
Succeeded byWilliam Clark
Chair of the Republican National Committee
In office
July 8, 1892 – June 18, 1896
Preceded byWilliam Campbell
Succeeded byMark Hanna
Commissioner of the General Land Office
In office
March 31, 1891 – November 18, 1892
PresidentBenjamin Harrison
Preceded byLewis Groff
Succeeded byWilliam M. Stone
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's at-large district
In office
November 8, 1889 – March 3, 1891
Preceded byHimself (Delegate)
Succeeded byWilliam W. Dixon
Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's at-large district
In office
March 4, 1889 – November 8, 1889
Preceded byJoseph Toole
Succeeded byHimself (Representative)
Personal details
Thomas Henry Carter

(1854-10-30)October 30, 1854
Junior Furnace, Ohio, U.S.
DiedSeptember 17, 1911(1911-09-17) (aged 56)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Ellen Galen
(m. 1886)

Thomas Henry Carter (October 30, 1854 – September 17, 1911) was an American politician, who served as territorial delegate, a United States representative, and a U.S. Senator from Montana. Carter was born in Junior Furnace, Ohio, on October 30, 1854. Born to an Irish immigrant family, he spent most of his childhood in on small farms in the Midwest. In 1882, he moved to Helena, Montana to begin his law career there. He entered then politics, and was elected Montana's territorial delegate in 1888. Following Montana's admission into the union as a state, Carter represented the state in U.S. House of Representatives. He ran for re-election in 1890, but was narrowly defeated by Democrat William W. Dixon in the general election.

Following his failed re-election bid, President Benjamin Harrison appointed Carter as the Commissioner of the General Land Office in 1891. He served as commissioner until 1892, when he was elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, the first Catholic to do so.

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  • Ford, Carter, and the Economic Malaise: Crash Course US History #42
  • President Jimmy Carter Biography***


Hi, I’m John Green, this is Crash Course U.S. History and today we are going to talk about one of the most important periods in American history, the mid-to-late 1970s. Stan why is there nothing on the chalkboard? We can’t find a picture of Gerald Ford somewhere around here? Don’t worry Crash Course fans we got one. Thanks for your support through Subbable. It paid for this 90 cent Gerald Ford photograph. These really are the years where everything changed in the United States and amidst all that turmoil something wonderful was born. Mr. Green? Mr. Green? Strong with the force, this episode is. No, me from the past, Yoda doesn’t show up until Empire Strikes Back which came out in 1980. I’m referring of course to the fact that we were born! It’s the beginning of the John Green era! From here on out, almost everything we discuss will have happened in my lifetime. Or as most Crash Course viewers refer to it, “that century before I was born”. But it wasn’t just the birth of me and the death of Elvis, the late 1970s were truly a period of momentous change, and for most Americans it sucked. Intro So how Americans reacted to those no good very bad years really has shaped the world in which we find ourselves. The big story of the 1970s is economics. Twenty-five years of broad economic expansion and prosperity came to a grinding halt in the 1970s meaning the our party was over. And what did we get instead? Inflation and extremely slow growth. The worst hangover ever. Just kidding, the worst hangover was The Depression. The 2nd worst hangover was the 2008 recession, and then the 3rd worst hangover was Hangover Part III. It was the 4th worst hangover in American history. Narrowly beating out America’s 5th worst hangover the Hangover Part II. What happened to the American economy in the 1970s was the result both of long-term processes and unexpected shocks. The long-term process was the gradual decline of manufacturing in the U.S. in relation to competing manufacturing in the rest of the world. Part of this was due to American policy; after World War II, you’ll remember that we promoted the economic growth of Japan, Germany, South Korea and Taiwan, ignoring the tariffs that they set up to protect nascent industries, and effectively subsidizing them by providing for their defense. And not having to build nuclear arsenals of their own really allowed them to invest in their domestic economies. And then one day, a bunch of Toyotas and Mercedes showed up, and you could drive them up to like 40 thousand miles before they would break down and we were like, “wait a second”. In 1971, for the first time in the 20th century, America experienced an export trade deficit, importing more goods than it exported, which is the same problem that my aunt has with QVC. I mean, they hardly import anything from her. One reason for this deficit was because the dollar was linked to gold, making it a strong currency but also making American products more expensive abroad. So Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard, hoping to make American goods cheaper overseas and reduce imports, but that didn’t really work. Because the U.S. was also competing against cheaper labor costs, and cheaper raw materials, and more productive economies. And in many cases this growing global competition put American firms that couldn’t compete out of business. This was especially true in manufacturing. In 1960, 38% of Americans worked in manufacturing. In 1980, it was 28%. Today, it’s nine. Not 9%, nine people. Stan wants me to tell you that was a joke. It actually is 9%. Unionized workers were hit particularly hard. In the 1940s and 1950s unions had won generous concessions from corporate employers including paid vacation, and health benefits, and especially pensions, which employers would agree to as a kind of deferred compensation so that they wouldn’t have to pay higher w ages to people while they were working. And this worked great, until people started to retire. So by 1970, competition led employers to either eliminate high-paying manufacturing jobs, or else to increase automation, or to shift workers to lower wage regions of the U.S. or even overseas. The American South benefitted from this trend because its anti-union stance was attractive to manufacturers. But then, non-union industries that were already in the South found that they had no way to find new workers so the only way to survive was to move production overseas. And also as industries moved production to the Sunbelt that increased the political influence of the region, and because the South and Southwest are generally conservative politically, the nation’s politics continued to move to the right. Meanwhile the northern industrial cities, particularly the Rust Belt of the Midwest, were becoming the empty urban playgrounds that we know and love today. Detroit and Chicago had lost half of their manufacturing jobs by 1980 and smaller cities fared even worse. As industry moved away, they found their tax bases dried up, and they were unable to provide even basic services to their citizens. I mean with the world of Wall Street fat cats this is hard to imagine today, but in 1975 New York City faced bankruptcy. In addition to these long term structural changes to the American economy and our demographics, the 1970s saw two oil shocks that sent the economy into a tailspin. In 1973, in response to Western support of Israel, Middle Eastern Arab states suspended oil exports to the U.S which led to the price of oil quadrupling. This resulted in long lines for gasoline, dramatically higher oil prices, and Americans deciding to purchase smaller, more fuel efficient cars, which is to say Japanese cars. Also, prices of everything else went up because oil is either used for the production of or transportation of just about everything. I mean with 70’s inflation, this 90 cent portrait of Gerald Ford would have cost at least $1.10. The paint that covers the green parts of not-America, oil based. The plastic that comprises the DVD’s of Crash Course World History, available now at, oil based. Those were a fantastic bargain and they would have been way more expensive if the price of oil was higher. And then, in 1979, a second oil shock hit the United States after the Iranian revolution. Wait Stan, did we say 1979? We’ve got to put up a picture of Jimmy Carter. Bam! Sorry, Gerald Ford there’s a peanut farmer in town. So during the 1970s inflation soared to 10% a year and economic growth slowed to 2.4%, resulting in what came to be known as stagflation. Unemployment rose, and a new economic statistic was born: the misery index, the combination of unemployment and inflation. At the beginning of the decade it was 10.8, by 1980 it had doubled. If you’re looking for the roots of America’s contemporary economic inequality, the 1970s are a good milestone, since according to our old friend Eric Foner, “beginning in 1973, real wages essentially did not rise for twenty years.” [1] Americans got to experience the joy of two years of Gerald Ford before poor Jimmy Carter had a chance to fail at improving the economy. The only president never to have been elected even to the vice presidency, Gerald Ford was so insignificant to American history that we already replaced him on the chalkboard. One of Ford’s first acts was to pardon Nixon making him immune from prosecution for obstruction of justice. That very unpopular decision probably made it impossible for Ford to win in 1976. Coincidentally, WIN was the only memorable domestic program that Ford proposed. It stood for Whip Inflation Now and it was basically a plea for Americans to be better shoppers, spend less, and wear WIN buttons. Thirty-five years later Charlie Sheen would turn winning into an incredibly successful social media campaign, but sadly at the time there was no Twitter. Inflation did drop, but unemployment went up, especially during the recession of 1974-75 where it topped 9%. Now, Ford would have liked to cut taxes and reduce government regulation, but the Democratic Congress wouldn’t let him. So that’s Ford, probably best known today as the first president to be satirized on Saturday Night Live. Then, in 1976, we got a new president: Jimmy Carter. Now Jimmy Carter is generally considered by historians to have been a failure as president. Although, he is often seen as a really good ex-president. He tried to fight the inflation part of stagflation, but to do it he acted in some rather un-New Deal Democrat ways. He cut government spending, deregulated the trucking and airline industries, and he supported the Fed’s decision to raise interest rates. Oh, it’s time for the mystery document? The rules here are simple... I read the mystery document, I guess the author, and if I’m wrong I get shocked. Alright, let’s see what we’ve got today. “I want to speak to you first tonight about a subject even more serious than energy or inflation. I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy. I do not mean our political and civil liberties. They will endure. And I do not refer to the outward strength of America, a nation that is at peace tonight everywhere in the world, with unmatched economic power and military might. The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation. The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and political fabric of America.” It’s Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech, my favorite speech ever made that also cost a president 20 points of approval rating. So Carter says that Americans have lost their ability to face the future and some of their can-do spirit. The rest of the speech talks about how Americans’ values are out of whack, how Americans are wasteful, and need a new more vibrant approach to the energy crisis. Let me tell you a lesson from history Jimmy Carter, you don’t get reelected by telling Americans how to do more with less. You get reelected by telling Americans, “more, more, always more, more for you. More. More. More. I promise.” The speech ultimately called for a renewal of spirit, but all people remember is the part where Jimmy Carter was criticizing them, and it’s gone down as a great example of Carter’s political ineptitude. Domestically, Carter paid lip-service to liberal ideas like energy conservation, even installing solar panels on the White House, but his bigger plan to solve the energy crises was investment in nuclear power. And nuclear power did grow, although never to the extent we saw in certain European countries, partly because of the accident at Three Mile Island in 1979 when radioactive vapor was released into the air. This of course spurred public fears of a nuclear meltdown and drove a huge anti-nuclear energy movement. But some of Carter’s more conservative policies did ultimately have an impact, like his support for deregulation of the airlines. Before airline deregulation, prices were fixed, so airlines had to compete by offering better service. Now, of course, flights are much cheaper and also so much more miserable. In many ways, Carter was more important as a foreign policy president, but as with his energy initiatives, he’s mostly remembered for his failures. Aiming to make Human Rights a cornerstone of America’s foreign policy, Jimmy Carter tried to turn away from the Cold War framework and focus instead on combatting 3rd world poverty and reducing the spread of nuclear weapons. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. Carter’s notable changes included cutting off aid to Argentina during its “Dirty War” and signing a treaty in 1978 that would transfer the Panama Canal back to Panama. His greatest accomplishment was probably brokering the Camp David Accords. This historic peace agreement between Egypt and Israel has, as we all know, led to a lasting peace in the Middle East, just kidding, but it has been a step in the right direction and one that’s lasted. But the U.S. continued to support dictatorial regimes in Guatemala, the Philippines and South Korea. Carter’s most significant failure in terms of supporting international bad guys, though, is the Shah of Iran. Iran had oil and was a major buyer of American arms, but the Shah was really unpopular and our support of him fuelled anti-American sentiments in Iran. Those boiled over in the 1979 Iranian Revolution, especially after Carter allowed the Shah to get cancer treatments in America, which in turn prompted the storming of the American embassy in Tehran and the capture of 53 American hostages. The Iranian hostage crisis lasted 444 days and although Carter’s secretary of state did negotiate their release, it didn’t happen until the day Carter’s successor Ronald Reagan was inaugurated. The inability to free the hostages and the botched rescue attempt -- Affleck’s ARGO notwithstanding -- added to the impression that Carter was weak. Events in the Middle East also increased Cold War tensions especially after 1979, when the USSR invaded Afghanistan. Carter claimed that the invasion of Afghanistan was the greatest threat to freedom since World War II and proclaimed the Carter Doctrine, which was basically said that the U.S. would use force, if necessary, to protect its interests in the Persian Gulf region. In direct response to the Soviets, the U.S. put an embargo on grain shipments and organized the boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. Thanks for another dose of good news Thought Bubble. So despite focusing on Carter, I’ll again stress that the real story of the 1970s was the economy. High inflation and high unemployment had monumental effects in shaping America. And no president could have dealt with it effectively. Not Carter, not Gerald Ford, not anyone. The truth is, history isn’t about individuals. Oil shocks and inevitable systemic changes led to the poor economy and that weakened support for New Deal liberalism and increased the appeal of conservative ideas like lower taxes, reduced regulation, and cuts in social spending. All of which, for the record, started under the Democrat Jimmy Carter, not the Republican Ronald Reagan. More abstractly, the economic crisis of the 1970’s dealt a serious blow to the Keynesian consensus that Government action could actually solve macro-economic problems. I mean according to the economic theory that had prevailed for the previous 50 years, unemployment and inflation were supposed to be inversely proportional, the so-called Phillips Curve. When that relationship broke down and we had both high inflation and high unemployment it undermined the entire idea of government intervention. And that opened the door for a different way of thinking about economics that emphasized the economy as an aggregate of individual economic decisions. Now that might sound like a small thing, but whether you think of individual choices or governmental policies really make economies work or not work turns out to be pretty freaking important. And this has come to really shape the contemporary American political landscape especially when it comes to taxes. Which we’ll talk about more next week. Thanks for watching. Crash Course is made with all the help from these nice people and it exists because of your support through Subbable and also because so many of you are buying Crash Course World History on DVD. Thank you! Our mission here at Crash Course is to make educational content freely available to everyone forever and you can help us in that mission, if you’re able, by subscribing at Subbable. Subbable is a voluntary subscription platform where you can get amazing perks liked signed posters and lots of other stuff so check it out. Thank you for supporting Crash Course, thanks for watching, and as we say in my hometown, “don’t forget to be awesome.” ________________ [1] Foner. Give me Liberty ebook version p. 1097

Early life and career

Childhood and youth

Carter was born to Irish immigrant parents on October 30, 1854, in a small village known as Junior Furnace, near Portsmouth, Scioto County, Ohio.[1] His parents, Edward and Margaret (Byrnes) Carter, came to the United States in 1849 or 1850 following the Great Famine. They were married in Wheeling, West Virginia, shortly after their arrival in the U.S., Edward converting to Catholicism from the Anglican Church due to Margaret's influence. The Carters settled in Junior Furnace, Ohio by 1852 when their first son, Richard, was born. Shortly after Thomas' birth in 1854 the family moved to a farm a few miles from Junior Furnace.

Following the end of the Civil War in 1865, the Carters used their savings and moved to Pana, Illinois, where young Tommy Carter attended the common schools and worked on his parents' farm.[1] Edward Carter instilled in his children a love for reading and with it a love of learning.[2] Early in his adult life, following his family's loss of their farm due to a lightning-caused fire burning their barn and killing their farm animals, Thomas Carter engaged in railroad work and school teaching.[3][4]

Career and marriage

For several years, Carter worked as a travelling salesman for a book publisher based in Burlington, Iowa. After the premature death of his mother to pneumonia in March 1879, Carter moved his two younger sisters, Julia and Margaret, and a younger brother, Edward Jr., to be with him in Burlington, Iowa, where he now worked as head of the sales department of the publishing company, while their father worked in Kentucky.[5] Thomas and his sisters formed a particular bond in these years in Burlington as he supported them and cared for them as a father.[6] After many long years of studying the law, Carter finally passed the bar examination in Nebraska while there on a business trip (likely in 1881, though the record is unclear).[7]

In May 1882, at the advice of friends, he moved from Burlington to Helena, Montana, ostensibly to begin his law career there.[8] After a brief stint selling books again, he formed a law partnership with Helena lawyer, John B. Clayton.[7] Within a year of arriving in Helena, Carter sent for his sisters and brother in Burlington to join him. From his childhood Carter nurtured a close relationship with the Catholic Church, and upon his arrival in Helena this relationship continued and even strengthened.[9] On January 27, 1886, Carter married Ellen Lillian Galen, the daughter of Montana pioneers, Hugh F. Galen and Matilda Gillogly Galen, at the cathedral in St. Paul, Minnesota.[10]

Political career

Territorial delegate

Carter's first foray into public office in Montana was in the role of public administrator for Lewis and Clark County.[10] In 1888, he was nominated as the Republican candidate for the position of Territorial Delegate to Congress. In the general election in November he faced Butte copper king and Democrat William Clark, making his first of numerous attempts at federal office. Carter upset Clark by winning the three largely Democratic counties of Silver Bow, Deer Lodge, and Missoula, likely with the assistance of Marcus Daly, another influential Montana Democratic copper king and enemy of Clark. Montana's Irish voters, who disliked Clark, also likely helped Carter to victory.[11] This particular election is said to have initiated the famous "War of the Copper Kings."[12] Nonetheless, Carter was elected as a Delegate to Congress and served a short term from March 4, 1889, to November 7, 1889, when the Territory of Montana was admitted as a state into the Union.[13]

United States House

Thomas Henry Carter, pictured sometime in the 1890s

The people of Montana again elected Carter as their first Representative to Congress on October 1, 1889, when he defeated long-time territorial delegate and leading Montana Democrat Martin Maginnis, and he served from November 8, 1889, to March 3, 1891.[14] Importantly, Carter served as chairman of the Committee on Mines and Mining, a remarkable achievement for a freshman legislator in the House of Representatives, and, as one historian suggested, due to his friendship with legendary Speaker of the House Thomas B. Reid of Maine.[15] Carter was an unsuccessful candidate in 1890 for reelection, losing a close election to Butte lawyer and Democrat William W. Dixon by 283 votes, or less than 1% of the total votes cast.[16] President Benjamin Harrison appointed Carter as the Commissioner of the General Land Office from 1891 to 1892, when he was elected chairman of the Republican National Committee.[17] He was the first Catholic to be the chairman of the Republican Party.[18]

United States Senate

Carter was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1895, until March 3, 1901. As a Senator he was chairman of the Committee on Relations with Canada (Fifty-fourth Congress), the Committee on the Census (Fifty-fifth and Fifty-sixth Congresses). President William McKinley appointed him a member of the board of commissioners of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and he served as its president. Carter was elected again as a Republican to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1905, to March 3, 1911. He was not a candidate for reelection. He died from a lung infarction while at home in Washington, D.C., on September 17, 1911. His funeral was held at St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church, and he was interred at Mount Olivet Cemetery in the city.[19]


In Glacier National Park, two natural features are named for Thomas H. Carter: a glacier and a peak.[20] Two towns in Montana named for Carter are Carter in Chouteau County, and Cartersville in Rosebud County. Carter County, Montana was also named in his honor in 1917.[20][21]


  1. ^ a b McHattie 1930, p. 54.
  2. ^ McHattie 1930, p. 55.
  3. ^ Biographical Directory.
  4. ^ McHattie 1930, p. 56-57.
  5. ^ McHattie 1930, p. 57-58.
  6. ^ McHattie 1930, p. 59.
  7. ^ a b McHattie 1930, p. 60.
  8. ^ Progressive Men, p. 1120.
  9. ^ McHattie 1930, p. 62-64.
  10. ^ a b McHattie 1930, p. 61.
  11. ^ Malone, Roeder, and Lang 1991, p. 212.
  12. ^ Toole 1951, p. 21-33.
  13. ^ Malone, Roeder, and Lang 1991, p. 198.
  14. ^ Malone, Roeder, and Lang 1991, p. 198.
  15. ^ Roeder 1989, p. 24.
  16. ^ Waldron 1958, p. 63.
  17. ^ Biographical Directory
  18. ^ Prendergast 1999, p. 72.
  19. ^ "Carter burial here". The Evening Star. September 18, 1911. p. 2.
  20. ^ a b Roeder 1989, p. 23.
  21. ^ Cheney 1984, p. 43-44.


Further reading

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's at-large district

Succeeded by
as U.S. Representative
Preceded by
as U.S. Delegate
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Lewis Groff
Commissioner of the General Land Office
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Chair of the Republican National Committee
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Montana
Served alongside: Lee Mantle, William Clark
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Senate Canadian Relations Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Senate Census Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Montana
Served alongside: William Clark, Joseph M. Dixon
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 26 November 2023, at 02:51
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