1st: George Washington
> Est. peak net worth: $594.2 million
> In office: 1789-1797
George Washington was America’s first president and also its wealthiest for more than a century. He inherited his extremely successful plantation, Mount Vernon, from his half brother. Washington also made substantial money as a general and as president. His presidential salary in 1789 was 2% of the total U.S. budget.
2nd: John Adams
> Est. peak net worth: $21.5 million
> In office: 1797-1801
John Adams’s wife, Abigail, was a member of the Quincys, a prestigious Massachusetts family, and a savvy investor, helping make herself and her husband wealthy. Adams owned a handsome estate in Quincy, Massachusetts. The estate, known as Peacefield, covered approximately 40 acres. He also had a thriving law practice.
3rd: Thomas Jefferson
> Est. peak net worth: $239.7 million
> In office: 1801-1809
When he was a teen, Thomas Jefferson inherited 3,000 acres of land from his father near present-day Charlottesville, Virginia. Jefferson expanded the land to 5,000 acres and built his architecturally advanced home Monticello. Though he was extremely wealthy for most of his life, he died in a great deal of debt, and his eldest daughter had to rely on charity for income.
4th: James Madison
> Est. peak net worth: $114.7 million
> In office: 1809-1817
James Madison was born to wealthy parents in Orange County, Virginia. His parents ran a successful plantation and eventually built the famed Montpelier estate on their land. They owned several thousand acres of land and dozens of slaves. Though wealthy at one point, Madison’s fortunes dwindled towards the end of his life. His plantation was not successful, and he was further strained by his stepson’s debts.
5th: James Monroe
> Est. peak net worth: $30.7 million
> In office: 1817-1825
James Monroe’s wife, Elizabeth, was the daughter of a wealthy privateer. Monroe spent his pre-presidential career practicing law and in public service. During his time in the White House, Monroe did not attend to his finances and he entered retirement severely in debt and was forced to sell his plantation.
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