Since 2001, the annual presidential salary has been set at $400,000. Even before that, every president has been paid well. George Washington’s salary of $25,000 was equivalent to over $700,000 in modern dollars when adjusting for inflation. Yet almost none of the presidents have needed the money, as most commanders in chief had already earned or inherited fortunes — from their parents or through marriage — before being elected.
24/7 Wall St. examined the finances of every American president, from George Washington to Donald Trump. For the purposes of comparison, we provided net worth figures for each president in current dollars. Because a number of presidents, particularly in the early 19th century, made and lost huge fortunes in a matter of a few years, we only provided each president’s net worth at their peak.
In America’s early days, only property-owning white men were allowed to vote. Consequently, only the wealthy first participated in American politics, meaning the first presidents were all well-off. While there have been some middle-class presidents in the intervening years, many contemporary commanders in chief also earned extravagant wealth — sometimes in excess of $100 million, when adjusted for inflation. These are America’s 12 wealthiest presidents.
Even being president does not insulate one from market forces and financial mismanagement. Some presidents had failed business ventures in their early careers, while others became insolvent after leaving office, frittering away their fortunes. These are America’s presidents who went broke.