Four of the top five richest presidents were plagued by debt in their later years.
“I’m really rich,” Donald Trump proclaimed during his announcement that he would be a candidate for President of the United States. Whether he is worth $10 billion (as he claims) or $4 billion (as Forbes figures), he would, if elected be the richest president ever.
Trump’s net worth far surpasses that of our nation’s first president, George Washington, whom the website 24/7 Wall Street recently ranked as the wealthiest president thus far with a net worth of $525 million, thanks to his salary (which was 2 percent of the total U.S. budget in 1789) and the prime farmland that comprises Mount Vernon, his Virginia plantation. Martha Washington, the website noted, inherited significant property from her father,
In second on 24/7 Wall Street’s ranking of the wealthiest presidents is Thomas Jefferson with a net worth of $212 million, derived, too by real estate, including 3,000 acres left by his father, and the 5,000-acre architectural wonder, Monticello.
Theodore Roosevelt’s $125 million was good enough to make him the third richest president. Speak softly, carry a big stick and have a sizeable trust fund. His 235-acre estate, Sagamore Hill, is situated on some of Long Island’s most valuable real estate. He did lost most of his money on a ranching venture, 24/7 Wall Street notes, and had to work as an author to pay his bills.
Andrew Jackson is ranked the fourth wealthiest president with a net worth of $119 million. Jackson married into wealth and made money in the military. The Hermitage, his homestead, comprised more than 1,000 acres of prime real estate.
The fifth wealthiest president, according to 24/7 Wall Street, was James Madison, with a net worth of $101 million. He was the largest landowner in Orange County, Virginia. He also made significant wealth as Secretary of State and president.
It may be worth nothing that the five wealthiest presidents were among the nation’s first 10 presidents. It may also be worth noting that all except for George Washington were plagued by debt in their later years.
24/7 Wall Street also observes that while it pays to be president, it can be especially lucrative once the leader of the free world leaves office. Former President Bill Clinton has made more than $100 million on the speaking circuit and has made millions on his book projects (his wife, current Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, received an estimated $14 million advance on her book, “Hard Choices.”
The website Politico reports that "George Bush has given at least 200 paid speeches and probably many more, typically pocketing $100,000 to $175,000 per appearance” since he left office.
How does President Obama plan to cash in once he leaves office? Certainly a memoir by the country's first Black president will be a bestseller. He will certainly be a sought-after speaker. His presidential library, which will be established in Chicago, is in the planning and endowment stages. But to the website Tumblr last year, the president offered a more prosaic vision of life post-presidency:"I'll be on a beach somewhere drinking out of a coconut.”
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.