Richest Presidents List Shows Washington At No. 1, Clinton Among Top
The list of the richest presidents shows that it pays well to be the leader of the free world.
The site 24/7 Wall St. looked at the net worth of all American presidents, from George Washington right up to Barack Obama. It found that many amassed fortunes of tens of millions of dollars or more.
The analysis found that the richest presidents for the most part lived centuries ago, and that their fortunes were often tied closely to the economy at the time.
Though the four richest presidents all held office before 1837, these men were also susceptible to great turns of wealth, USA Today noted:
“The first few presidents – from Washington’s election to about 75 years later – were large landowners. They generally made money from land, crops and commodity speculation. This left them highly vulnerable to poor crop yields, and they could lose most or all of their properties because of a few bad years. Similarly, they could lose all of their money through land speculation – leveraging the value of one piece of land to buy additional property.
“By 1850, the financial history of the presidency entered a new era. Beginning with Millard Fillmore, most presidents were lawyers who spent years in public service. They rarely amassed large fortunes and their incomes often came almost entirely from their salaries. These American presidents were distinctly middle class and often retired without the means to support themselves in anyway close to the presidential lifestyle. James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Lyndon B. Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes and James A. Garfield had modest net worths when they died.”
The richest president was also the first — George Washington amassed a fortune of nearly $525 million in today’s dollars through the land he owned. He had a plantation that included five separate farms, 8,000 acres of farmland, and more than 300 slaves. Washington also had a nice salary that was actually 2 percent of the US budget in 1789.
The only living member of the top 10 richest presidents list is Bill Clinton, who was No. 10. Clinton has a net worth of approximately $55 million, and since leaving office had made more than $125 million, mostly from speaking fees.
Had the election gone differently in November, there would be a new addition to the richest presidents list. Mitt Romney has a net worth of approximately $200 million, the Christian Science Monitor noted, which would have put him in the top three.
The full list of the richest presidents can be found here.