Special Report

America's 12 Richest Presidents

Win McNamee / Getty Images

This Presidents Day, many Americans remember the commanders in chief, especially those who shaped our country’s future in its early days. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were born this month, both who now grace several different denominations U.S. currency. But while both are associated with money, only one was particularly wealthy.

In the early days of American democracy, being a wealthy, white, male landowner was a prerequisite to having a voice in how the country was run. So it should come as no surprise that many of America’s leaders have been staggeringly wealthy.

Winning a bid for the presidency requires a significant amount of hard work and good luck, but it is often helpful to have another key resource — wealth. Money and connections play a role in politics, and coming from a wealthy family can be the determining factor in whether someone’s presidential aspirations are realized. The U.S. has seen a number of political dynasties built on wealth, including the Kennedys, the Bushes, and the Adams.

24/7 Wall St. determined the net worth of every president based on all relevant sources of wealth, including incomes, properties, spouses, and inheritance. There are 12 U.S. presidents with an estimated net worth of at least $50 million.

Click here to see America’s 12 richest presidents.

Donald Trump, who became the richest ever U.S. president in 2017, made most of his money through real estate. But Trump still had significant advantages in becoming rich. In 1971 he took over his father’s real estate company, the Trump Organization.

Many other presidents inherited almost all of their money and, having spent most of their adult lives in public service, never expanded much on it. Founding fathers like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison came from extremely wealthy land-owning families. There was no such thing as law school as these men were growing up, so if someone wanted to pursue a career in the law they had to hire a private tutor or study under a practicing lawyer — options that are very difficult to come by for someone in poverty.

Still, not every president on this list started out wealthy. Herbert Hoover was orphaned as a small child, but he made a significant fortune as mining engineer and executive. Bill Clinton was able to leverage the power he gained as president to earn a fortune through book deals and speaking engagements.

Calculating wealth hundreds of years after many of these presidents served is a challenging task, especially given the ways that wealth and finances have changed since the U.S. was first founded. Historical sources often give a range for a president’s net worth, adjusted for today’s dollar value.

24/7 Wall St. analyzed the finances of U.S. presidents based on historical sources. The figures are adjusted for inflation through 2023. We have accounted for hard assets such as real estate, estimated lifetime savings based on work history, and inheritance. We also considered annual salaries, incomes earned from royalties on books, ownership of companies, yields from family estates, and other forms of income.

The ranking is based on peak net worth, or how much a president’s combined assets were worth at the time in his life when he was the richest. Many presidents became impoverished or even went into debt after their time in office.

Source: National Archives / Newsmakers / Getty Images

12. John Tyler
> Term: 1841-1845 (10th president)
> Source of fortune: Inherited
> Peak net worth (inflation adjusted) $69.6 million

John Tyler was one of many presidents who received a large amount of land from relatives that set him up for future financial success. Tyler inherited a thriving tobacco plantation from his parents in Virginia. His first wife, Letitia, was also wealthy. She died while he was in office, leaving him with an even greater fortune.


Source: Keystone / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

11. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
> Term: 1933-1945 (32nd president)
> Source of fortune: Inherited
> Peak net worth (inflation adjusted) $80.6 million

Coming from the wealthy and powerful Roosevelt family, Franklin Delano Roosevelt always had a financial safety net. In fact, he needed financial help from his mother in 1919, just nine years before he was elected Governor of New York. Since he spent almost his entire adult life in public service, FDR never aimed to increase his fortune and died in office after being elected president for a fourth time.

Source: Pool / JE / Getty Images

10. William Jefferson Clinton
> Term: 1993- 2001 (42nd president)
> Source of fortune: Books, speeches
> Peak net worth (inflation adjusted) $91.6 million

Since leaving office, Bill Clinton has made millions from his 2005 book “My Life.” Much of his wealth, however, actually comes from his wife, Hillary. The former secretary of state reportedly received a $14 million advance for her 2014 memoir “Hard Choices,” and she made millions from a number of paid speeches. Because the two are married, their net worths are combined.

Source: General Photographic Agency / Getty Images

9. Herbert Clark Hoover
> Term: 1929-1933 (31st president)
> Source of fortune: Mining
> Peak net worth (inflation adjusted) $100.1 million

Herbert Hoover was orphaned as a child, but overcame his struggles to become very successful. After graduating from Stanford and before entering politics, Hoover worked as a mining engineer. He went on to own several Burmese silver mines and write a mining engineering textbook, all of which combined to make him quite wealthy.


Source: Central Press / Getty Images

8. Lyndon Baines Johnson
> Term: 1963-1969 (36th president)
> Source of fortune: Broadcasting
> Peak net worth (inflation adjusted) $131.9 million

Lyndon Baines Johnson owned a number of assets, including livestock and 1,500 acres of land in Texas. However, the main source of income for Johnson and his wife Lady Bird came from their Texas TV and radio station business. Though the radio station KTBC was technically in Lady Bird’s name, LBJ reportedly used his considerable influence as a member of Congress to make the acquisition go smoothly and make the station a success. The Johnsons later expanded their portfolio to include other TV and radio stations in Texas.

Source: National Archives / Getty Images

7. James Madison
> Term: 1809-1817 (4th president)
> Source of fortune: Inherited
> Peak net worth (inflation adjusted) $136.7 million

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 over several thousand acres of land and dozens of slaves. Though wealthy at one point, Madison’s money dwindled towards the end of his life. His plantation was not successful, and his stepson burned through much of his money because of drinking and gambling problems.



Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

6. Andrew Jackson
> Term: 1829-1837 (7th president)
> Source of fortune: Plantation
> Peak net worth (inflation adjusted) $160.1 million

Andrew Jackson was born poor but made money through his law practice. He also inherited a fortune from his wife Rachel. By 1804, Jackson owned nine slaves and was wealthy enough to build a mansion, the Hermitage. As the estate grew more successful, he continued to expand the land and purchase more slaves. Jackson owned close to 150 people at the time of his death.

Source: George C. Beresford / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

5. Theodore Roosevelt
> Term: 1901-1909 (26th president)
> Source of fortune: Inherited
> Peak net worth (inflation adjusted) $168.6 million

Theodore Roosevelt came from a wealthy and prominent family. His fifth cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, appears earlier on this list. Teddy Roosevelt, though, was significantly wealthier, having inherited a large trust fund. Though he was born wealthy, Roosevelt never worked much to increase his wealth, as he spent almost his entire adult life in public service since being elected to the New York State Assembly at 23. He sunk much of his fortune into a ranch in the Dakota Territory.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

4. Thomas Jefferson
> Term: 1801-1809 (3rd president)
> Source of fortune: Inherited
> Peak net worth (inflation adjusted) $285.8 million

When he was a teen, Thomas Jefferson inherited 3,000 acres of land from his father near present-day Charlottesville, Virginia. Jefferson greatly 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.


Source: Three Lions / Getty Images

3. George Washington
> Term: 1789-1797 (1st president)
> Source of fortune: Inherited
> Peak net worth (inflation adjusted) $708.5 million

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. Washington’s presidential salary in 1789 was 2% of the total U.S. budget. For context, 2% of 2017’s federal budget would be about $80 billion, though the United States obviously was not as wealthy back then.

Source: National Archive / Newsmakers / Getty Images

2. John Fitzgerald Kennedy
> Term: 1961-1963 (35th president)
> Source of fortune: Inherited
> Peak net worth (inflation adjusted) $1.3 billion

The Kennedys are one of the most powerful and influential families in American politics, and that was even more true in the 1960s. John F. Kennedy’s father, Joe, made much of his fortune through banking and investing. He was one of the richest men in the United States, and the family fortune endures to this day. Kennedy clearly benefited from his family fortune, but estimating his exact net worth at its highest point is especially difficult. He had a number of other siblings sharing a portion of the trust. On top of the Kennedy family’s wealth, Kennedy’s wife Jacqueline was heiress to a vast oil fortune. The couple’s combined wealth amounted to more than a billion dollars when adjusted for inflation.


Source: Win McNamee / Getty Images

1. Donald John Trump
> Term: 2017-2021 (45th president)
> Source of fortune: Real estate
> Peak net worth (inflation adjusted) $3.7 billion

Before he entered politics, Donald Trump was a prominent figure in New York City’s real estate scene. Trump took over his father’s business and grew it into an empire. Though many of his other businesses have failed, Trump’s vast property holdings make him by far the wealthiest president of all time. In addition to a number of New York City buildings, Trump owns over a dozen golf clubs and many resorts. Trump broke precedent when he declined to release his tax returns as a candidate, so it is difficult to know his exact worth — what is certain is that he is extremely wealthy.

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