To be elected president, candidates must be able to convince the American people they can make life better for them. Yet, despite being successful in their presidential bids, some presidents are not as successful in their other endeavors — namely business and finance. In fact, several American presidents, at some point in their lives, became insolvent.
Whether it was in their early 20s or after their time in office, eight commanders in chief have been in serious financial trouble.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed historical records in order to determine which presidents have gone broke and identify the reasons for their money troubles.
The presidents that reached poverty or bankruptcy struggled to hold on to wealth for different reasons. Some, like Thomas Jefferson, were born extremely wealthy but could not manage that wealth. Jefferson acquired the debt of a number of family members and did not have the funds to pay off the debt of those family members as well as provide for himself..
Abraham Lincoln, on the other hand, was never wealthy, but he still struggled to get any financial stability early in his life. Lincoln’s first business venture, a general store, went into debt, and Lincoln had to sell his few possessions to appease his creditors.
Presidents going broke may be a thing of the past, as Harry S. Truman is the most recent entry on the list. These days, presidents can expect massive book deals once they leave the White House. Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, received a reported $65 million for the rights to a book they will write together. That type of money should be enough to get anyone through retirement.
Ulysses S. Grant lived beyond his means and fell victim to a scam after his time in office. He had to sell his memoirs just before his death in order to provide his family with any inheritance at all.
24/7 Wall St. used historical sources to determine which presidents were ever in debt or impoverished during their adult lives. Presidents were ranked in order of their peak wealth. In the case of ties, presidents were ranked from most to least recent.