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Today in Georgia History
is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.

November 4

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Iranian Hostage Crisis

November 4, 1979 - Washington, D.C.
It was an international crisis that tarnished America’s global prestige and helped make Jimmy Carter a one-term president.

The Iranian Hostage Crisis began in 1979 when Iranian militants seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage.

It didn’t end for more than a year.

Iran’s Islamic revolution overthrew the Shah of Iran, who had maintained close ties to the U.S. for years.

The American Embassy in Tehran became the focus and target of frequent demonstrations by supporters of Ayatollah Khomeini, the revolutionary leader who fulminated relentlessly against America’s presence in Iran.

When the deposed Shah came to the U.S. for cancer treatment, a mob of 3,000 Iranian militants stormed the embassy. Negotiations to free the hostages played out during the 1980 presidential campaign between Carter and Ronald Reagan.

A failed rescue attempt left 8 American soldiers dead, further humiliating a president already weakened by an oil embargo-fueled bad economy. The hostages were finally released after 444 days, just minutes after Reagan’s January 1981 inauguration.

Jimmy Carter’s presidency had been fatally crippled by the crisis that began on November 4, 1979, Today in Georgia History.

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Fast Fact

During the Iran Hostage Crisis, the yellow ribbon was used as a symbol of support for the imprisoned hostages.