While the President of the United States is one of the most esteemed titles in the world, the job actually doesn’t pay as well as one might think. While the annual presidential salary today is $400,000 a year, the president is still expected to pay for a lot of their own expenses, and the amount is a fraction of the salary most high-up CEOs and executives make. Yet, many of the men who have held the position of the presidency didn’t need the salary in the first place. In most cases, America’s past presidents have been men who either earned or inherited fortunes before ever entering the office. Read on to see how much these presidents were worth during their peaks, in terms of today’s dollars.
George Washington: $587 Million
George Washington, the first president of the United States, became the sole owner of his Mount Vernon estate in 1761. Located on the banks of the Potomac River, the property was first established by Washington’s great-grandfather John in 1633 and grew drastically over the years.
By the time the plantation landed in George Washington’s hands, it had a total of five farms comprising over 8,000 acres of fertile farmland. Run by over 300 slaves, the land proved to be incredibly lucrative. Furthermore, as president, Washington’s salary was two percent of the US budget in 1789.
John Adams: $21.3 Million
Luckily for John Adams, he inherited a sum of money from his father. Even better, his wife was Abigail Adams, who was originally a Quincy — one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in Massachusetts.
John Adams made a name for himself as a distinguished lawyer which also allowed him to grow a massive wealth throughout his life. He also owned an estate known as “Peacefield,” a 40-acre property located in what is now known as Quincy, Massachusetts.
Thomas Jefferson: $236.8 Million
Like Washington before him, Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, also owned an extremely successful plantation. The 3,000-acre property in Virginia called “Monticello” was given to Jefferson by his father. He then expanded the land to 5,000 acres and built structures that were considered to be some of the most architecturally advanced of their time.
Run by slaves, much of Jefferson’s wealth came from his plantation. He also grew his wealth while holding various political positions throughout his life. However, when he died, he had been in debt for some time.
Andrew Jackson: $132.6 Million
Andrew Jackson, who served as president from 1829-1837, was well-known for standing up for the middle class. However, he wasn’t part of the middle class himself. He married into a wealthy family and made a considerable amount of money for his military service and work in the government.
At one point, he even grew to become one of the wealthiest presidents of the 1800s, although few knew how wealthy he truly was. He also owned a homestead known as “The Hermitage,” which was over 1,050 acres of good land.
Abraham Lincoln: $1 Million
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States and is one of the most well-known in American history. While he may forever be remembered in the annals of history, his net worth was surprisingly low considering his accomplishments and popularity. Born into poverty in a log cabin, he worked odd jobs and ran a general store that eventually failed.
He then persevered to become an attorney, a position which he held for 17 years before his presidency. After becoming president, he didn’t make much money because of the Civil War and because his life was cut short by John Wilkes Booth.
Grover Cleveland: $28.3 Million
Grover Cleveland was the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms, serving as the 22nd and the 24th president of the United States. While his father was a small-time bookseller and preacher, his mother was the daughter of a wealthy lawyer.
This eventually led Cleveland to become a successful lawyer himself, a career that he worked for 12 years. He also made a massive profit after selling his estate on the outskirts of Washington DC. He then went on to buy the “Westland Mansion” in Princeton, New Jersey.
Theodore Roosevelt: $138 Million
Like some other presidents, Theodore Roosevelt was born to a wealthy and prominent family, receiving an extremely large trust fund at a relatively young age. However, while adventuring in the Dakotas, he lost a large sum of his wealth on a ranching venture which forced him to become an author to make ends meet.
Before becoming president, he worked in public service for years, where he earned some money here and there. However, much of his wealth came from his property “Sagamore Hill,” a 235-acre estate on one of the most valuable plots of land on Long Island.
Herbert Hoover: $83 Million
Orphaned as a child, Herbert Hoover was raised by his uncle, who was a doctor. Before becoming the 31st president of the United States, Hoover made his fortune working as an executive at a mining company. He held the position for 17 years, receiving a more than ample salary each year.
By the time he became president, he had acquired enough money that he donated his presidential salary to charity. He also owned a large property known as the “Hoover House” located in Monterey, California.
Franklin Roosevelt: $66.8 Million
Franklin Roosevelt was born into and later married into money. After receiving a large inheritance, Roosevelt bought several properties in Georgia, Maine, and New York. Among these was his renowned 800-acre “Springwood” estate in Hyde Park, New York. However, in 1919, Roosevelt received financial help from his mother after almost going bankrupt.
He managed to save himself and made a comfortable living while working as assistant secretary of the Navy before he was president. He also made much of his money while working in public service as the governor of New York and a member of the New York Senate.
John F. Kennedy: $1.1 Billion
The 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy was one of the wealthiest people to ever sit in the oval office. His wife, Jackie, was born to a well-to-do family and Kennedy’s father was one of the wealthiest men in the country.
He was even the first chairman of the SEC. Essentially, almost all of JFK’s wealth, aside from his presidential salary, came from a trust fund that he shared with his other family members. However, he was never able to inherit the massive fortune his father had accumulated over the years.
Lyndon B. Johnson: $109.3 Million
When Lyndon B. Johnson was just a boy, his father managed to lose all of the family’s money in a series of investments. He once noted that “My daddy went busted waiting for cotton to go up to twenty-one cents a pound, and the market fell apart when it hit twenty.”
Over time, Johnson managed to rebuild his family’s wealth and acquired 1,500 acres in Blanco County, Texas where he built his home dubbed the “Texas White House.” He also went on to own a radio and television statement as well as had assets in livestock and private aircraft.
Richard Nixon: $17.2 Million
Richard Nixon did not grow up with much money and certainly didn’t receive an inheritance when he came of age. He had a career in government for most of his life, serving as a senator for some time as well as holding other offices.
However, he made a series of successful real estate investments and became a millionaire. At one point, he sold his New York townhouse to a Syrian ambassador to the US, leading him to purchase various plots of land, including a home in Saddle River, New Jersey.
Gerald Ford: $8.1 Million
Former President Gerald Ford, the 38th president, came from modest means and had no inheritance waiting for him. Instead, he spent his life in public service and owned properties in Michigan, Rancho Mirage, and Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Like some other presidents, he made the majority of his fortune after leaving the White House. After 1976, he began making over $1 million a year from book advances as well as serving on the boards of numerous very lucrative American companies.
Jimmy Carter: $8.1 Million
Jimmy Carter did not grow up privileged. His father was a peanut farmer in Georgia and didn’t leave Carter with much. When his father passed away, Carter took over the peanut farm and did not initially have not much success. But after a few rough years, he managed to turn the farm into a successful agricultural business.
Yet, his success was short-lived and the farm eventually failed after it was left unsupervised when it was put into a blind trust. Carter went on to make his money by writing books. In total, he and his wife have published 25 books and own thousands of acres of land in Georgia.
Ronald Reagan: $14.2 Million
Before Ronald Reagan sat in the Oval Office as the 40th president of the United States, he got his start in Hollywood. During that time, he made a lot of money as a movie and television actor.
After making a comfortable living, Reagan than began purchasing various properties including a 688-acre estate in Santa Barbara, California. Another way that he made money was being a spokesman for GE, a job that really made him a wealthy man. His autobiography after his presidency didn’t hurt his net worth, either.
George H.W. Bush: $26.3 Million
Although the Bush family is known as being one of the most powerful families in America, that wasn’t always the case for George H.W. Bush. He made his fortune later in life, when he was in charge of an off-shore drilling company.
His work with the drilling company enabled him to purchase millions of dollars worth of property, one being his estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, which is estimated to be worth more than $5 million. President Bush was doing very well for himself long before he stepped foot in the White House.
Bill Clinton: $75.9 Million
Born and raised in Hope, Arkansas, Bill Clinton did not come from a family with a lot of money. In fact, he spent the majority of his life and even his presidency with less money than most people would expect.
It wasn’t until after he left the White House that he began to make some serious cash. Most of his earnings came from book deals and paid speeches. Just for one of his books, My Life, he made a total of $15 million and he hasn’t slowed down since.
George W. Bush: $39.5 Million
Following in the footsteps of his father, George W. Bush made a decent amount of money in the oil business before going into public service and serving as the governor of Texas.
During that time, he made so much money that he owned the Texas Rangers professional baseball team. While he put his money-making on hold while in the office, the cash continued to flow in the millions in speaking fees and book deals after he left the presidency.
Barack Obama: $40 Million
Since leaving office, Barack Obama and his family have been doing just fine financially. Apparently, Obama and his wife Michelle signed a $65 million deal for the rights to their memoir, an impressive deal. On top of that, former presidents tend to make hundreds of thousands of dollars for giving speeches and making appearances.
Obama is no stranger to either, so he’ll likely have a constant income from all of his work outside of the office. According to American University, the Obamas could earn up to $242 million in the upcoming years.
Donald Trump: $3.1 Billion
By far, Donald Trump is the wealthiest man to ever hold the position of president of the United States. After taking over his father’s real estate business at a relatively young age, he grew to become one of the most well-known and richest individuals in the country.
Today, Trump owns billions of dollars in real estate, country clubs, businesses, and more, both in the United States and abroad. He has managed to tap into a variety of markets that have allowed him to amass a vast wealth.