Despite his unpopularity, Jimmy Carter's presidency boasts several major accomplishments. He negotiated a peace treaty between the nations of Israel and Egypt which became known as the Camp David Accords. He also negotiated a treaty with Panama giving the nation control of the Panam Canal, thus preventing a war. He managed to establish diplomatic relationships with China by formally recognizing their government. He championed human rights and made that central to his foreign policy.
On the domestic front, he confronted a national energy crisis by establishing a comprehensive energy program and establishing the Depatment of Energy to carry it out. He also established the Department of Education to improve the quality of public education in the United States. He established major enviornmental protection legislation which included the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.
All of these successes are forgotten because of the Iran Hostage Crisis. On November 4, 1979, 52 Americans were taken hostoge in Iran. The crisis ultimately lasted 444 days and the government failed to release the hostages before election day. An attempt to rescue the hostages failes, and the issues that prevented the operation from succeding led to the creation of USSOSCOM, the group that would later take out Osama bin Laden. Because of the Iran Hostage Crisis, an economy which had not improved to the extent Republicans said it should have, and a third party run by John Anderson, Jimmy Carter lost reelection to Ronald Reagan , and was denied a much deserved second term. Even after losing the 1980 election, he continues to work to negotiate the release of the hostages, even though it wouldn't benefit him politically in any way. On Reagan's inaguration, they were released making it look like Reagan had released the hostages, even though the release was negotiated by Carter and Reagan had nothing to do with it.
Since his retirement, Carter has remained politically active. He established the Carter Center, worked for Habitat for Humanity, wrote more than 20 different books (including the first fiction book ever written by a U.S. president), and won the Nobel Peace Prize.