A member of Jimmy Carter's Georgia Mafia, Hamilton Jordan attended the University of Georgia in Athens, directed Carter's successful gubernatorial campaign, and began planning Carter's 1976 presidential bid in 1971. Jordan ran the campaign that saw Carter take the White House from President Ford, he became chief-of-staff in 1979 and played a key role in the in the Camp David peace talks between Israel and Egypt.
Born in North Carolina but raised in Albany, Georgia, Hamilton Jordan(pronounced "Jerden") attended Albany High School. After working on Carl Sanders gubernatorial campaign Jordan received a four year degree from the University of Georgia, Athens in five-and-a-half years. During summer break he journeyed to Washington, D. C. where he held various jobs. One summer he worked for Georgia Senator Richard B. Russell stuffing envelopes with newsletters mostly promising to win the battle against segregation. Jordan remembered the police driving Martin Luther King and demonstrators into an alley to the cheers of white onlookers. The event was an epiphany for Jordan.
Four years later he heard Jimmy Carter speak at a local Elks Club in preparation for his 1966 Democratic nomination campaign for governor. Jordan admitted he was attracted to Carter because of his radical views (on ending segregation). Jordan volunteered to work for the Carter campaign in Albany, but was surprised when Carter himself called to offer him a job in the statewide campaign.
Carter came in third behind Ellis Arnell and Lester Maddox and Jordan went off to Vietnam to help with refugee relocation. In 1970 Carter again tapped Jordan, this time to run his campaign against Carl Sanders in the primary. In 1971 Jordan began drafting a document outlining a gameplan for Jimmy Carter to run for president.
With Carter's victory in November, 1976, Jordan was put in charge of choosing the men and women at every level in the Carter government. In this position Jordan created the so-called "Georgia Mafia."
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Jordan was alternately portrayed as "...either a political wunderkind or a hell-raising pariah."