Jimmy Carter, the Peanut Brigade, and the ‘76 Democratic Primaries

Jimmy Carter's Peanut Brigade, supporters from Georgia during his presidency campaign

By Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

Peanut BrigadeJimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

Jimmy Carter’s friends from Georgia created a formidable weapon for the Democratic primaries—the Peanut Brigade. Members of the Peanut Brigade march in the Thomasville, Georgia, Rose Festival Parade, April 1979.

Governor Jimmy CarterJimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

Jimmy Carter’s rise from Governor of Georgia to the presidency was one of the most remarkable ascents in American political history.

Jimmy Carter's tireless campaigners and shrewd political advisorsJimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

All but unknown to the American public through much of 1975, he was his party’s candidate for president less than a year later. Like no campaign since, it was largely the effort of family and friends -- some were tireless campaigners and shrewd political advisors. The entire primary campaign cost about $11.5 million.

Jimmy Carter's Friends and the Peanut BrigadeJimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

Jimmy Carter had always relied on the support of his friends during his campaigns. The presidential campaign was no different. Almost a hundred Georgians chartered a plane and flew to New Hampshire in January 1976, weeks before the primary.

Georgian Project SummaryJimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

Leaders of the Peanut Brigade carefully planned a door-to-door charge in New Hampshire in the dead of winter. Canvassers were told “You must be on the streets when the voters are home”.

Person-to-person PoliticsJimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

The members of the Peanut Brigade spoke to nearly half of the 20,000 registered Democrats in New Hampshire before the primary.

Preparation for Door-to-DoorJimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

They stayed in the state for a week, knocked on doors, and vouched for Jimmy Carter in person.

Vote for Jimmy Carter NoteJimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

Each canvasser was outfitted with a kit including literature, campaign buttons, stickers, maps, and a “door-to-door procedures sheet”. When no one was home they left handwritten notes extolling Jimmy Carter as Governor of Georgia and future President.

Jimmy Carter's Peanut Brigade on the RoadJimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

After New Hampshire, Jimmy Carter's Peanut Brigade traveled to Florida (by bus), Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Mexico and other crucial states during the Democratic primaries of 1976.

Jimmy Carter and Peanut BrigadeJimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

Remembering the primary in Pennsylvania, Jimmy Carter later said: “My wife Rosalynn ... spent 5 days in Beaver Valley, and all the people who were up here campaigning on the Peanut Brigade and my family and I thought that the most delightful campaign experience of our whole 1976 effort was in Pennsylvania.”

A guide prepared for the Ohio Primary advisedJimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

A guide prepared for the Ohio Primary advised: “[The Ohio Primary] will mark the culmination of a long, tough, and honorable competition. ...Your efforts will directly affect Tuesday’s results in Ohio.”

Members of the Peanut Brigade gathered for a group photographJimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

Members of the Peanut Brigade gathered for a group photograph after the successful New Mexico campaign.

A Politcal BrigadeJimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter raise a banner to thank some of their most devoted supporters at the Peanut Brigade Party on the White House lawn. The New York Times described the event as follows: “With food simmering over open fires and candles flickering in the chill night breezes, President Carter played host last night to the Peanut Brigade‐500 Georgians who campaigned for him when he was just ‘Jimmy who?’”

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