President Jimmy Carter’s Annotated Statement on the Failed Rescue Mission Regarding the Hostages in Iran 1980

President Jimmy Carter is one of the most famous and influential Georgians in modern history. His presidency was plagued by domestic and international crises, one of the most dramatic of which was the Iran Hostage Crisis. On November 4, 1979, more than 60 Americans were taken from the American embassy in Tehran and were held hostage for 444 days. The entire nation watched the crisis unfold on television. The hostage situation stemmed from resentment over CIA involvement in consolidating power under Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1953. Ten years later, the Shah quelled an uprising, sending cleric Khomeini into exile. Although this action ended the immediate threat of revolution, it eventually sparked the Iranian Islamic Revolution. In January of 1979 the Shah was the one in exile and Khomeini was leader of Iran. The young revolutionaries who stormed the American embassy in November were upset that the United States had allowed the exiled Shah into the United States for cancer treatment. They refused to release the hostages until the Shah was returned to Iran for trial and the United States gave billions of dollars that the revolutionaries claimed they stole from the Iranian people. President Carter vowed to bring the hostages back safely. His administration tried economic sanctions and negotiations to resolve the crisis, but as the months passed with no sign of breaking, Carter approved a high-risk rescue mission. The mission had to be aborted due to malfunctioning helicopters, one of which crashed into a transport plane killing the pilot and injuring three others. The Iranians broadcast footage of the crash and mocked the United States in their failed attempt to protect their own citizens. This primary source set includes a draft copy of Jimmy Carter’s speech given in response to this humiliating event. The document is housed at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum and available online through the National Archives.

How does this source demonstrate the mood of the nation during this event? How does this event and his speech set the mood for the rest of Carter’s presidency?

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