William Hodding Carter, Jr. was born on February 3, 1907 in Hammond, Louisiana, United States; the son of William Hodding Carter, a locally prominent farmer and businessman in Tangipahoa Parish, and Irma Dutartre. Carter, named for his father, went by Hodding rather than Will, although he shared his father's sense of noblesse oblige, love for the land, and hatred of demagoguery. According to Carter, his youth formed many of his basic values. He learned Confederate and Ku Klux Klan lore as well as Christian humility from his Bible-quoting grandmother, and he learned common humanity from a black boyhood friend. The wrenching sight of a burned, hanging body of a lynch mob's victim that young Carter stumbled upon in the woods haunted him for the rest of his life.