President Carter puts in a long day at the office

On this day in history, President Carter spends a typically busy day meeting with congressional and cabinet leaders, conducting phone meetings, squeezing in a game of tennis and family time, and attending the opera. Carter’s White House diary, posted on his presidential library’s website reveals in great detail Carter’s schedule. Although the content of Carter’s White House discussions was not recorded in the diary, practically every move of Carter’s was logged (by an unknown entity) to the exact minute.

Around 11 p.m. the night before, Carter arrived in Washington aboard Air Force One. He had just returned home from a trip to the United Kingdom, where he spent five days in intensive meetings with NATO leaders. He was in bed at the White House by 12:25 a.m. on May 11. Carter received a wake-up call from the White House switchboard operator at 7am. By 7:30 a.m. on May 11, an industrious Carter was in his office, fielding phone calls and conducting quick in-person meetings with Vice President Walter Mondale, cabinet members, congressional representatives and advisors. Carter found time to spend a quiet 45-minute lunch with his wife, Rosalynn, on the second floor of the president’s residential quarters and then returned to the Oval Office for an afternoon of more meetings and phone calls. By 4:30 that afternoon, he had spoken with or met 16 different people, some for only one to two minutes. The day’s longest work-related conversation clocked in at only 20 minutes.

Carter left his office at 4:34 p.m. and was on the White House tennis courts by 4:48 p.m., where he played a game or two of tennis with Office of Management and Budget Director Thomas “Bert” Lance. After a shower, and then another quiet meal with Rosalynn and two female guests at 7:05, Carter and the first lady dressed for a night out. That evening, the Carters attended a benefit performance of Mozart’s The Barber of Seville by the New York City Opera at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. After the performance, he and Rosalyn went backstage to meet and congratulate the opera company’s conductor, as well as leading soprano Beverly Sills. At 11:20 p.m., the Carters returned to the White House via limousine motorcade. The president was in bed by 11:40 p.m. and up at 6 a.m. ready to face another busy day in the Oval Office.

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