Term: 1789-1797 (1st president)
Peak net worth (in 2018 dollars): $587.0 million
His Virginia plantation, “Mount Vernon,” consisted of five separate farms on 8,000 acres of prime farmland, run by over 300 slaves. His wife, Martha Washington, inherited a substantial amount of property from her father. Washington made significantly more than subsequent presidents: his salary was two percent of the total U.S. budget in 1789.
Term: 1797-1801 (2nd president)
Peak net worth (in 2018 dollars): $21.3 million
Adams received a modest inheritance from his father. His wife, Abigail Adams, was a member of the Quincys, a prestigious Massachusetts family. Adams owned a handsome estate in Quincy, Massachusetts. The estate, known as “Peacefield,” covered approximately 40 acres. He also had a thriving law practice.
Term: 1801-1809 (3rd president)
Peak net worth (in 2018 dollars): $236.8 million
Jefferson was left 3,000 acres and several dozen slaves by his father. “Monticello,” his home on a 5,000 acre plantation in Virginia, was one of the architectural wonders of its time. He made significant money in various political positions before becoming president, but was left mired in debt towards the end of his life.
Term: 1809-1817 (4th president)
Peak net worth (in 2018 dollars): $113.3 million
Madison was the largest landowner in Orange County, Virginia, with land holding consisting of 5,000 acres and the “Montpelier” estate. He made significant money as secretary of state and president. Madison lost money at the end of his life due to the steady financial collapse of his plantation.
Term: 1817-1825 (5th president)
Peak net worth (in 2018 dollars): $30.4 million
Monroe’s wife, Elizabeth, was the daughter of wealthy British officer. He made significant money during eight years as president, but entered retirement severely in debt and was forced to sell his Highland plantation, which included 3,500 acres.