TALK ABOUT YOUR 1% – if elected president, Mitt Romney would be wealthier than any president except one – George Washington was worth over half a billion in today’s dollars.
1. George Washington > Net worth: $525 million > In office: 1789 – 1797 > 1st president
His Virginia plantation, Mount Vernon, consisted of five separate farms on 8,000 acres of prime farmland, run by more than 300 slaves. His wife, Martha Washington, inherited significant property from her father. Washington made well more than subsequent presidents: his salary was 2% of the total U.S. budget in 1789.
2. Thomas Jefferson > Net worth: $212 million > In office: 1801 – 1809 > 3rd president
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 considerable money in various political positions before becoming president, but was mired in debt towards the end of his life.
3. Theodore Roosevelt > Net worth: $125 million > In office: 1901 – 1909 > 26th president
Born to a prominent and wealthy family, Roosevelt received a sizable trust fund. He lost most of his money on a ranching venture in the Dakotas and had to work as an author to pay bills. Roosevelt spent most of his adult years in public service. His 235-acre estate, Sagamore Hill, sits on some of the most valuable real estate on Long Island.
4. Andrew Jackson > Net worth: $119 million > In office: 1829 – 1837 > 7th president
While he was considered to be in touch with the average middle class American, Jackson quietly became one of the wealthiest presidents of the 1800s. “Old Hickory” married into wealth and made money in the military. His homestead, The Hermitage, included 1,050 acres of prime real estate. Over the course of his life, he owned as many as 300 slaves. Jackson entered considerable debt later in life.
5. James Madison
> Net worth: $101 million > In office: 1809 – 1817 > 4th president
Madison was the largest landowner in Orange County, Va. His land holding consisted of 5,000 acres and the Montpelier estate. He made significant wealth as Secretary of State and president. Madison lost money at the end of his life due to the steady financial collapse of his plantation.
6. Lyndon Baines Johnson > Net worth: $98 million > In office: 1963 – 1969 > 36th president
Johnson’s father lost all of the family’s money when LBJ was a boy. Over time, he accumulated 1,500 acres in Blanco County, Tex., which included his home, called the “Texas White House.” He and his wife owned a radio and television station in Austin, Tex., and had a variety of other moderate holdings, including livestock and private aircraft.
7. Herbert Clark Hoover > Net worth: $75 million > In office: 1929 – 1933 > 31st president
An orphan, Hoover was raised by his uncle, a doctor. He made a fortune as a mining company executive. He had a very large salary for 17 years and had extensive holdings in mining companies. Hoover donated his presidential salary to charity. He also owned “Hoover House” in Monterey, Calif.
8. Franklin Delano Roosevelt > Net worth: $60 million > In office: 1933 – 1945 > 32nd president
Roosevelt’s wealth came through inheritance and marriage. He owned the 800-acre Springwood estate, as well as properties in Georgia, Maine and New York. In 1919, his mother had to bail him out of financial difficulty. He spent most of his adult life in public service. Before he was president, Roosevelt was appointed assistant secretary of the Navy by President Wilson.
9. William Jefferson Clinton > Net worth: $38 million > In office: 1993 – 2001 > 42nd president
Unlike other presidents, Clinton did not inherit any wealth and gained little net worth during 20 plus years of public service. After his time in the White House, however, he earned a substantial income as an author and public speaker. Clinton received a large advance for autobiography. His wife, the current Secretary of State, also has earned money as an author.
10. John Fitzgerald Kennedy > Net worth: $1 billion (never inherited his father’s fortune) > In office: 1961 – 1963 > 35th president
Born into great wealth, Kennedy’s wife was oil heiress. His father was one of the wealthiest men in America, as well as was the first chairman of the SEC. Almost all of JFK’s income and property came from a trust shared with other family members.