I came across this list of Presidential net worths on Wikipedia and thought many of you might be interested. The table below has adjusted the amount of money for inflation and reports the number in 2010 dollars.
While the information is listed for the highest value during that particular President’s lifetime, it makes one think about reports of bankruptcy and also about why John F Kennedy’s widow, Jackie O, married a guy like Onassis when her family was that incredibly well off.
I found it interesting that JFK was the richest President, worth one billion dollars, and that George Washington came in second at over half a billion in today’s money. George Washington is well known to have been a savvy businessman who paid for much of the salaries and expenses of the Revolutionary War’s soldiers himself. He earned his money as a surveyor, and planter, and businessman throughout his life. But JFK died at a relatively young age. Where did his money come from? He never held down a job outside of the government after his military days. Did all of that really come from old Joe Kennedy’s bootlegging days? And I’m sure Joe treated his kids equally, and with nine kids in that family, that must have been one heck of an inherited fortune.
Thomas Jefferson, always thought of as struggling, came in at number three. While this again is these Presidents’ worth at the height of their fortunes, how on earth did he lose just under a quarter billion dollars? It makes understanding all the animosity between him and Hamilton over the U.S. banking system and economy more understandable. TJ didn’t know much about those subjects apparently.
It’s also interesting that the richest Presidents were mostly Democrats. Is it that rich men seek office, or do they become rich after office? Then there are men like Ulysses S. Grant who would have died destitute had Mark Twain not intervened and published his autobiography. Being President is frightfully expensive, and I wonder how difficult it was for men like Truman, and Coolidge, and Wilson to survive their time in office.
For more information and citations, please see the original article on Wikipedia.