The Net Worth Of These U.S. President Might Surprise You
The annual salary of the president of the United States is $400,000. That’s probably more than what an average Finance101 reader makes but less than some corporate CEOs.
However, many American presidents could have probably done without this salary as they came from extreme wealth to begin with. Using information from publication 24/7 Wall St., we’ve ranked 30 of our richest presidents from least to most. Listed net worths have been adjusted for inflation to 2016 dollars. The wealthiest of all might surprise you…
35. Warren Gamaliel Harding
Net worth: $1 million
The wrongdoing of his cabinet members overshadowed most of Harding’s presidency. However, the 29th president of the U.S. wasn’t involved with any of those criminal activities. Before getting into politics, Harding was a successful newspaper publisher, he served in the Ohio legislature and the US Senate, says History.com.
William G. Harding basically had the majority of his net worth before becoming the Commander in Chief. His wife Mabel also came from substantial wealth — she was the daughter of a prominent banker, says 24/7 Wall St.
NEXT: He went bankrupt during the Great Depression in 1893 while governor of Ohio.
34. William McKinley
Net worth: $1 million
William McKinley didn’t have a significant inheritance unlike a lot of the presidents on our list. He made his dough working various public service positions for 30 years. This included serving as a local prosecutor and a member of the House of Representatives. It seems like public service can make you some substantial cash, but not as much as being a company exec can.
Unfortunately, Mr. McKinley went bankrupt during the Great Depression in 1893. At the time, he was governor of Ohio, says 24/7 Wall St. Even politicians were affected by the Great Depression! He was president until he was assassinated six months into his second term.
NEXT: At the time, the 14th president of the U.S. was the youngest man to assume the office.
33. Franklin Pierce
Net worth: $2 million
Like father like son! Franklin Pierce’s father was governor of New Hampshire. The 14th president himself got his start in politics at a young age, says History.com. He was just 24-years-old when he won the election to the New Hampshire state legislature. Not many 24-year-olds accomplish a feat such as that!
At the time, 47-year-old Franklin Pierce was the youngest man to become president of the U.S. His wife, Jane Appleton, came from a well to do family. Appleton’s father was formerly president of Bowdoin College.
NEXT: Our 19th commander in chief came from a humble background but worked his way up to $3 million.
32. William Howard Taft
Net worth: $3 million
Interestingly, Taft’s father-in-law used to work with a president in power a few years before him — Rutherford Birchard Hayes! (We’ll talk about him soon but we won’t tell you HOW soon.) An active attorney for two decades, Taft was president of the American Bar Association.
The White House says that Taft was more interested in law rather than politics. He did hold various public office positions, as well as the presidency, so Taft must have liked public service to some extent.
NEXT: Our 19th commander in chief came from a humble background but worked his way up to $3 million.
31. Rutherford B. Hayes
Net Worth: $3 million
Hayes came from a humble background — his father was a shopkeeper. He might have earned his $3 million net worth working as a lawyer for 15 years and his public service jobs. Besides commander in chief, Hayes was governor of Ohio and a member of the House, says MSN.
Hayes’ career also included a stint fighting in the Civil War, says The White House. Down the line as he acquired wealth, Hayes was able to procure “Spiegel Grove.” This was a 10,000 square foot home that sat on 25 acres in Fremont, Ohio.
NEXT: He founded the college that eventually became SUNY of Buffalo in New York.
30. Millard Fillmore
Net worth: $4 million
Neither this president nor his wife came from wealthy families. Fillmore is from the Finger Lakes country of New York, where he worked on his father’s farm and apprenticed with a cloth dresser. He attended one-room schools and eventually married the teacher, Abigail Powers.
Fillmore did start the university that eventually became State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY), so his wealth could have come from that in addition to his work as a public servant. Besides serving as president, he was comptroller of New York and vice president, says The White House.
NEXT: This president once proposed to annex the Hawaiian islands, says the History Channel.
29. Benjamin Harrison
Net worth: $6.1 million
Here’s another self-made president. Born on a farm by the Ohio River below Cincinnati, Benjamin Harrison didn’t come from a wealthy family and neither did his wife. Instead, he made all his money while he was a highly paid lawyer for 18 years.
One of his biggest clients as a lawyer was Venezuela. Harrison assisted the country with settling a border dispute. Visible signs of his wealth were his large Victorian home located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Despite being wealthy, the U.S. Treasury’s surplus disappeared by the end of Harrison’s term, says the White House.
NEXT: He was the first president to die in office.
28. William Henry Harrison
Net worth: $6.1 million
William Henry WHO? You’ve probably not heard about Mr. Harrison because he was only president for a total of 31 days. The ninth president sadly died of typhoid or paratyphoid fever just a month into his tenure. Harrison became the first president to die in office.
As far as his baller wealth goes, Harrison married into wealth. His wife’s pops was a judge and a landowner, says 24/7 Wall St. Our ninth president added to his assets when he inherited 3,000 acres near Charles City, Virginia from his late mother.
NEXT: Prior to becoming president, he served in the military for four decades.
27. Zachary Taylor
Net worth: $7.1 million
Our 12th president of the United States was one that inherited his wealth from family (seems to be a common trait of our early commanders in chief, no?). Taylor inherited a lot of land in particular, says MSN. This included property in Mississippi, Kentucky, and Louisiana. Mississippi is where he had his plantation (seems to be a requirement of early presidents to have one) and he had a home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
MSN goes on to say Taylor made even more money in land speculation, leasing warehouses and having investments in bank and utility stocks. Taylor’s background was a Southern man through and through although he didn’t subscribe to most of the region’s political beliefs, says the White House. Taylor was born in Virginia but moved to Kentucky as an infant.
NEXT: This president came into power via the 25th amendment, replacing Nixon after the Watergate scandal.
26. Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr.
Net worth: $8.1 million
Gerald Ford didn’t have an inheritance to fuel his career, but he was able to work his way up on his own. Most of his career was in public service, says MSN, but he made enough money to load up on properties in Michigan and Colorado.
Post-presidency, Ford cashed in on book advances and was on the boards of big-time companies. He earned himself a near $1 million doing this. Ford originally came into power after Nixon bowed out due to the Watergate scandal. “I assume the Presidency under extraordinary circumstances,” Ford said. “This is an hour of history that troubles our minds and hurts our hearts.”
NEXT: This president won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.
25. James Earl Carter
Net worth: $8.1 million
Things weren’t always easy as far as money goes for James “Jimmy” Carter. Carter’s dad owned a peanut farm in Georgia, leaving it to Jimmy after he died, says MSN. It took a while for Carter to make the farm successful but it finally was.
Things went south with the peanut farm when Carter put it in a blind trust and left it unsupervised. Carter left the presidency in debt, sadly, but was able to rebound and make dough by writing books.
NEXT: There’s a conspiracy theory out there that claims this president had a secret meeting with aliens, says Disclose TV.
24. Dwight David Eisenhower
Net worth: $9.1 million
A self-made president, Dwight D. Eisenhower held high ranking jobs before becoming commander in chief. He spent most of his life in the military, working his way up the ranks. He was also the 13th president of Columbia University in the city of New York.
Columbia University Libraries says that he’d spend long times away from the university, most notably in 1950 when he was the first supreme commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). As far as properties go, he owned a farm near Gettysburg, PA.
NEXT: This president was often referred to as the first “dark horse.”
23. James Knox Polk
Net worth: $11.1 million
James K. Polk and his wife, Sarah Childress, both had fathers that were rich plantation owners and speculators. On top of their family wealth, Polk made a lot of his money during his public service jobs: speaker of the house and governor of Tennessee.
Polk owned a 920-acre estate and 25 slaves to go along with it, says MSN. Not as much as other early presidents, however. He was referred to as a “dark horse,” meaning “unexpected winner” in politics.
NEXT: He’s known for his dramatic “Tear down this wall” speech at the former Berlin Wall.
22. Ronald Wilson Reagan
Net worth: $14.2 million
Reagan became a movie star then president, all on his own without an inheritance. He started working in TV and movies for two decades and earned a lot of his wealth that way. He also made some sweet cash as General Electrics’ spokesman before becoming president, says MSN.
Reagan’s wealth helped him buy some real estate, including a baller 688-acre estate near Santa Barbara, California. Like most former presidents, he wrote an autobiography which helped fund his wealthy lifestyle. Almost every president has a fan that’ll buy their book!
NEXT: He was famously disgraced for the Watergate scandal. Wonder who that might be…
21. Richard Milhous Nixon
Net worth: $17.2 million
Richard Nixon, aka “Tricky Dick,” is, unfortunately, best known for his involvement in the Watergate scandal. Five men broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in the 1970s. Nixon’s administration evaded investigations of its involvement. Nixon subsequently resigned.
As far as his wealth goes, Nixon didn’t inherit his wealth but instead made it through work and real estate, says MSN. He was a public servant most of his career and made money from David Frost interviews and book advances. He sold his New York townhouse and owned property in New Jersey, California, and Florida.
NEXT: His wife came from a wealthy, prominent family called the Quincys.
20. John Adams
Net worth: $21.3 million
Adams wasn’t nearly as wealthy as his predecessor, Washington (read about him a bit later), but he and his wife came from money. Adams had received a healthy inheritance from his father and his lady, Abigail, came from the wealthy Quincy family, says MSN.
What?! You’ve never heard of the Quincys?! They’re just about the most prestigious family in Massachusetts! In the 18th century that is…Adams’ wealth was evident just by looking at his 40-acre estate, Peacefield, and thriving law practice.
NEXT: This president became a lawyer without ever attending law school, says the Constitution Center.
19. John Quincy Adams
Net worth: $23.3 million
Guess who his dad was? John Adams! Wow who would have thought? There’s been another father and son presidency situation we’re more familiar with — George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush (more about them in later slides!). Quincy Adams inherited some of dad’s wealth.
For example, he inherited the Peacefield estate from John Adams, says MSN (this was the 40-acre estate we mentioned earlier). It also seems he inherited the temperament and viewpoints of his dad, says The White House.
NEXT: This late president was known as one of the United States’ humblest and most experienced.
18. George Herbert Walker Bush
Net worth: $26.3 million
George H.W. Bush, father of president George W. Bush, came from a wealthy family. Bush made his own fortune with some offshore drilling and owned millions of dollars worth of property, says MSN. Most notably, there’s the Kennebunkport, Maine estate (it’s believed to be worth $5 million!).
Despite his wealth, Bush was known for being unselfish, humble and experienced in public service work. He started in Congress, then served many government roles like the Ambassador to the U.N., Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in China and Director of Central Intelligence.
NEXT: He served multiple but not consecutive terms as president.
17. Grover Cleveland
Net worth: $28.3 million
Term: 1885-1889, 1893-1897
President #22 & #24
Grover Cleveland seemed to have come from a humble background — his father was both a bookseller and a preacher. Cleveland possibly procured wealth from his work as a lawyer for 12 years and in public service. Besides president, he served as mayor of Buffalo, New York and governor of New York.
Interestingly, he also made lots selling his estate outside D.C. Cleveland purchased “Westland Mansion,” an estate near Princeton, New Jersey. This president became the first to a lot of things: 1st democratic president after the civil war, first to serve two nonconsecutive terms, and more.
NEXT: He’s one of two presidents to have served as secretary of state, vice president and president.
16. Martin Van Buren
Net worth: $29.3 million
Van Buren came to his wealth working as a lawyer. He might have earned a lot of his wealth while working in public office as well. MSN says he’s one of two men to serve as secretary of state, vice president and president!
Like all early presidents, he had an estate. This 225 acre estate in upstate New York was called “Lindenwald.” He came from humble beginnings — he was born to a tavern keeper and farmer in Kinderhook, New York, says The White House.
NEXT: This president and his family decorated the White House with French imports and spoke French, says Encyclopedia Britannica.
15. James Monroe
Net worth: $30.4 million
There seem to be a lot of early presidents that lost money towards the end of their lives. Take James Monroe for instance — he had a plantation with 3,500 acres, made lots of money during two terms as president, and his wife came from money.
(His wife, Elizabeth Monroe, was the daughter of a rich British officer.) However, when Monroe got to retirement age, he was in debt and forced to sell his giant plantation, recounts MSN.
NEXT: He took up painting post-presidency, eventually putting together a book featuring his paintings called “Portraits of Courage,” says CNN.
14. George W. Bush
Net worth: $39.5 million
George W. Bush’s initial wealth came from his family — he’s from the prominent Bush family and his father was the president of the United States from 1989 to 1993. Bush himself made some good cash as a businessman then governor of the state of Texas.
Bush worked in the oil industry and owned baseball team the Texas Rangers once. Bush was known for facing 9/11 terrorist attacks, what his father called the “greatest challenge of any President since Abraham Lincoln,” says the White House. Bush left office an unpopular president, then started making money in speaking fees and book deals.
NEXT: He was the only president born in Hawaii.
13. Barack Hussein Obama
Net worth: $40 million
Several publications can only provide estimations of Obama’s wealth, but it’s thought to be around $40 million. Post-presidency, Obama makes a six-figure pension and has made millions from his books, a Netflix deal and speaking engagements, says Business Insider. Everyone wants a piece of Obama.
While president, he was known for passing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known as “Obamacare” for short. He didn’t come from wealth — he was raised by a single mother from Kansas.
NEXT: During the Civil War, this former president found himself in debt and died poor. This seems to be a common theme of early presidents, no?
12. John Tyler
Net worth: $57.7 million
Tyler was one of those presidents that came into wealth not through their careers, but family. He inherited a 1,000-acre tobacco plantation and had a wealthy first wife, Letitia. Eventually, Tyler bought his own estate called “Sherwood Manor” comprised of 1,600 acres.
He holds the distinction of being the first to become president because his predecessor died, says The White House. Like most of our early presidents, he found himself in debt and died poor. How come all these guys were losing their money?
NEXT: He used a wheelchair, but there aren’t very many photos of him in it.
11. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Net worth: $66.8 million
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, known commonly as “FDR,” gained some of his wealth from inheritance and marriage, says MSN. He did have a financial slip up in 1919 when his mother had to bail him out. Clearly Roos,evelt was able to recover and work his way up to a $66.8 million net worth!
Franklin Roosevelt held high ranking (and probably high paying) jobs before becoming president — e.g. he was assistant secretary of the Navy. Obvious indicators of his wealth were his properties in Georgia, Maine and New York as well as his “Springwood” estate.
NEXT: This president faced impeachment.
10. William Jefferson Clinton
Net worth: $75.9 million
From an elite scene in Arkansas, Clinton came into Washington D.C. and shook things up. He was a very popular president with voters, despite his extramarital affair(s). Clinton and wife Hillary Rodham Clinton did not come from wealth. Instead, they worked their way up the ladder.
Interestingly, he wasn’t quite wealthy — compared to other presidents — while he was in the White House. He and his wife made their money from paid speeches and book deals. MSN says that Bill Clinton made $15 million for his book My Life.
NEXT: This president made his initial wealth as a mining engineer.
9. Herbert Clark Hoover
Net worth: $83 million
Herbert Clark Hoover started off as an orphan. He was raised by his uncle who was a doctor. Hoover turned his misfortune around, becoming a mining engineer, raking in a large salary for 17 years and having extensive holdings in various mining companies.
Part of his engineering career took him to China. When he eventually became president, he found that he didn’t need his presidential salary and donated it to charity, much like our current commander in chief is doing. The White House says Hoover was known as “the Great Humanitarian.”
NEXT: This vice president stepped up to become commander in chief after JFK was assassinated.
8. Lyndon Baines Johnson
Net worth: $109.3 million
Lyndon B. Johnson (often known as LBJ) took over the presidency when president John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated. Johnson was born in central Texas, where he experienced rural poverty growing up and working his way through Southwest Texas State Teachers College, says the White House website.
LBJ acquired more and more land in Texas as time went on — 1,500 acres in Blanco County, says MSN. LBJ and his wife “Ladybird” Johnson owned a radio and TV station in Austin as well as other moderate holdings.
NEXT: He was one of our wealthiest presidents, but lost a lot of his wealth as he neared death.
7. James Madison
Net worth: $113.3 million
What’s up with all these presidents living on estates with fancy names? James Madison lived on a 5,000-acre one named “Montpelier” in Orange County, Virginia, says MSN. The publication says he was the largest landowner in all of Orange County, Virginia at the time.
Unfortunately for Mr. Madison, he lost a lot of his money at the end of his wealthy life because of the financial collapse of his plantation. Sadly, he was confined to his bed towards the end of his life, says James Madison: A Song of Virginia and a Founder of the Nation.
NEXT: He adopted an orphaned Native American boy named Lyncoya.
6. Andrew Jackson
Net worth: $132.6 million
Known as “Old Hickory,” Jackson made his wealth in the military and also married into a rich family. This made him one of the wealthiest presidents in the 1800s, says MSN. Like his predecessors, Jackson owned a massive estate. Called “The Hermitage,” his estate was comprised of 1,050 acres.
Jackson also owned over 300 slaves throughout his life, says MSN. Like a certain commander in chief we know today, Jackson sought to act as a representative of the common man, says The White House. Do you think someone from a wealthy background can represent the common people?
NEXT: He’s the youngest president in the United States’ history.
5. Theodore Roosevelt
Net worth: $139.7 million
Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt was born into a prominent, rich family in 1858 New York City, says The White House. Roosevelt was gifted a big trust fund but lost most of his money on a ranching venture in the Dakotas, says MSN. He worked as an author to pay the bills.
Lucky for him, he could make money writing unlike most authors… Most of his career was spent in public service jobs besides the presidency. Like other presidents, he had an estate of his own — a 235 acre one called “Sagamore Hill” in Long Island.
NEXT: He was one of our wealthiest presidents, but found himself in debt towards the end of his life.
4. Thomas Jefferson
Net worth: $236.8 million
Sure, the American Revolution seemed like a scrappy operation compared to the United Kingdom’s redcoats trying to hang onto their colonies. But that doesn’t mean our founding fathers were scrappy by any means. Au contraire, they were ballin.’ Mr. Jefferson here is just one example.
His 5,000-acre Virginia plantation, Monticello, was tended to by dozens of slaves. A lot of Jefferson’s property was given to him by his father, says MSN, but he made some of his own money working in politics before becoming president. Despite his wealthy life, he found himself in debt when he died.
NEXT: He was rumored to have had wooden teeth.
3. George Washington
Net worth: $587 million
He’s probably one of the most well known men in the entire history of the United States. Washington was the first president of our nation and one of our wealthiest. This is partially due to him being America’s most well paid president (his salary was two percent of the budget in 1789, says MSN).
Washington’s family came from money — his wife, Martha, inherited tons of property from her father. The pair lived on a baller plantation (Mount Vernon — ever heard of it?) that had FIVE separate farms on 8,000 acres. Like most founding fathers, he had slaves — 300 of them.
NEXT: A 2013 Gallup poll revealed this president as America’s favorite.
2. John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Net worth: $1.1 billion
No name is more famous in American politics than “Kennedy.” The Kennedys are a powerful, elite family in American politics that have held many political positions. They’re both loved and despised. Needless to say, John Kennedy (often known as “JFK”) was born into great wealth because of his familial ties.
Kennedy’s dad was the first chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). MSN says JFK’s money came from a shared trust with other family members. Kennedy’s wife, Jackie, was also born into wealth — she was an oil heiress.
NEXT: He’s the oldest — and richest — U.S. president in our nation’s history.
1. Donald Trump
Net worth: $3.1 billion
Our current president is our nation’s wealthiest at $3.1 billion. Trump was born into wealth and got even richer by taking over his father’s real estate business. Trump owns billions of dollars in real estate and golf courses all over the world.
Forbes broke down his wealth, finding that he owns $1.5 billion in real estate in New York, $560 million in non-New York real estate, $550 million in golf courses and clubs, $170 million in branded businesses, and $320 million in cash and personal assets. He said that he’d donate his presidential salary to charity, just like Hoover.