The President of the United States earns a hefty $400,000 yearly salary nowadays. That’s not bad going, of course, but many presidents were already wealthy to begin with. Moreover, a career in writing or giving talks often awaits after their time in office has come to an end. All this is to say that some presidents have been worth significantly more than even their $400,000 salary might suggest. Here, with adjustments made to account for inflation, we take a look at the 20 wealthiest in history.
20. John Adams
John Adams, one of the Founding Fathers and the second man ever to hold the office of U.S. president. That’s already quite the legacy to leave behind. But on top of everything else, it turns out that Adams was incredibly wealthy, too. In fact, it’s said that he would’ve been worth more than $21 million by today’s standards.
Both Adams and his spouse Abigail were members of wealthy families. The president’s dad had left a substantial inheritance for his son, whereas Abigail had been a part of the Quincy clan. Back in the 1700s the Quincys were among the most imposing families throughout all of Massachusetts. So both John and Abigail Adams had inherited huge amounts of money – and their own kids didn’t do badly, either…
19. John Quincy Adams
Of the six babies born to John and Abigail Adams, it was their second who became the most well-known. John Quincy Adams was born in 1767, and like his father before him, he later became president of the United States. He took office in 1825, serving only a single term until 1829.
Following his father’s passing, the younger Adams took his fair share of his leftover wealth. For example, he was given possession of his dad’s property, which comprised of a home on some 40 acres of land. And on top of this, it’s said that he also picked up personality and political traits from his father.
18. George H. W. Bush
President George Herbert Walker Bush was born into an affluent family. But he also significantly increased his riches further by drilling for oil and heavily investing in real estate. Perhaps the most extravagant example of this latter activity relates to a Maine property with an estimated value of $5 million.
Bush is said to have been worth somewhere in the region of $26.3 million. So, it’s safe to say that he led a financially comfortable life before he passed away in November 2018 at the ripe old age of 94. Indeed, his children never exactly struggled either, as we’ll soon see.
17. Grover Cleveland
Among all the presidents of the United States, Grover Cleveland is unique. Indeed, to this day, he is the only person with the bizarre honor of holding the presidency across two separate, non-consecutive spells. His first term was between 1885 and 1889, and his second started in 1893 and finished in 1897.
As a consequence, Cleveland is known as both the 22nd and the 24th U.S. president. But in addition to this distinction, he also amassed a substantial fortune thought to be worth about $28.3 million in today’s terms. Yet this is perhaps something of a surprise, as his family’s financial standing had been rather modest.
16. Martin Van Buren
Before he was president, Martin Van Buren had been born into a regular family without a huge amount of money. Yet he later started to amass a substantial fortune from his own activities and work. His role as a lawyer would’ve been vital in this endeavor, but he also likely did well from public service.
After all, across his political career Van Buren had been Secretary of State, vice president and, of course, president. Eventually, he was worth the equivalent of over $29 million. And he also owned a substantial estate in the state of New York. This was called Lindenwald and it measured up at roughly 225 acres.
15. James Monroe
President James Monroe had, at one point, been a very wealthy man. Indeed, once the owner of a substantial 3,500-acre plantation, he also would’ve picked up a decent wage for his terms in office. And, lest we forget, his spouse Elizabeth had been born into a wealthy British family.
Yet despite what you might think, it seems the presidency isn’t enough in and of itself to insulate a person from debt. And, as a matter of fact, Monroe apparently lost much of his money as an older man. Indeed, before his death he’d resorted to putting his huge plantation up for sale.
14. George W. Bush
Like his father before him, George W. Bush made lots of money before he took on the mantle of president. Of course, things were initially helped along by the fact that his family was already notably wealthy. But he was also a successful entrepreneur himself, before becoming the governor of Texas.
As with his dad, Bush had interests in the oil industry. And, for a time, he was also one of the owners of the Texas Rangers baseball team. Later, after his two terms as president had come to an end, Bush settled into a career of writing and giving talks.
13. Barack Obama
Although Barack Obama didn’t belong to an affluent family, he later made a fortune of his own. It’s not known for sure how much the 44th president is actually worth nowadays, but estimates have landed on a figure of approximately $40 million. That’s certainly not to be sniffed at.
Since finishing up his second term as president, Obama has gone on to fashion a prosperous career for himself. He reportedly receives a large pension, but he’s also earned millions with numerous other ventures. Such enterprises have included public speaking, writing books and signing an agreement with streaming giant Netflix.
12. John Tyler
On March 4, 1841, William Henry Harrison was sworn in as the ninth U.S. president. However, his reign was to be a brief one, with the man dying a mere 31 days later. Consequently, vice president John Tyler took over, the first person to do so because of the previous leader’s death.
Tyler had been an affluent man, the member of rich clan. He was the recipient of his family’s massive plantation, which was used for growing tobacco. He later even acquired his own land, which encompassed some 1,600 acres. Yet despite once being worth as much as $57 million in today’s money, Tyler lost his riches and passed away in destitution.
11. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt was born into an affluent family – and he married into one, too. But he nonetheless managed to get into financial trouble in 1919, with his mom reportedly having to pull him through. But he later got it together and went on to amass a significant fortune.
Before his presidency, FDR held a number of distinguished roles which presumably paid him quite a hefty salary. By the end of his life, he had a number of residences to his name across a number of states. All in all, it’s said that he would’ve been worth $66.8 million by today’s standards.
10. Bill Clinton
Nowadays, Bill Clinton is thought to have a figure of about $75.9 million to his name. Yet neither the 42nd president nor his spouse Hillary trace their roots back to particularly affluent families. Instead, the pair are said to have picked up their riches on the merit of their own efforts.
Comparatively speaking, Clinton wasn’t a terribly rich sitting president. It was only later, apparently, when his pay packet started to expand. After leaving office, Clinton took in big sums from writing books and giving talks. In fact, for his 2004 memoir My Life alone, he reportedly pocketed roughly $15 million.
9. Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover started out life under some rather tough circumstances. He was an orphan, brought up by an uncle, but he thrived nonetheless and ultimately enjoyed a distinguished career. Early on, Hoover was a mining engineer, toiling away in a high-paid position for over a decade and a half.
Such was the extent of Hoover’s success in engineering that he didn’t even require his presidential wage upon taking office. Instead, he decided to give it all away to charitable organizations representing those in need. It’s perhaps for acts such as this that he’s been dubbed by the White House as “The Great Humanitarian.”
8. Lyndon B. Johnson
Following the murder of John F. Kennedy in 1963, Lyndon B. Johnson was hastily sworn into office as the new president of the United States. But in the earlier stages of his life, Johnson had a much humbler existence. In fact, as a child he’s said to have lived through genuine economic hardship in his home state of Texas.
As he got older, though, Johnson started to buy up significant expanses of land across Texas. In Blanco County, for instance, some 1,500 acres were under his domain. On top of his land holdings, he and his spouse also held ownership of a broadcasting station in the city of Austin. Eventually, Johnson was worth almost $110 million.
7. James Madison
As with many of the country’s early presidents, James Madison possessed significant land holdings. In fact, during his time, he was among the most prominent possessors of land in all of Orange County, Virginia. He himself lived in the county on a ranch called Montpelier which encompassed some 5,000 acres.
At his financial height, the fourth U.S. president was worth what would roughly amount to $113.3 million today. But as things turned out, Madison actually ended up losing his riches after his vast plantation failed. And so, in his final days, he was reportedly broke and completely bed-bound.
6. Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson amassed a great fortune in his lifetime, aided by a career with the armed forces and by his wife’s family. As such, he was among the richest presidents of the entire 19th century. Among his holdings was a large Tennessee estate known as The Hermitage, which measured up at roughly 1,050 acres.
Jackson had also been a major slaveowner, with reportedly more than 300 individuals bound to serve him over the years. In fact, it was with the service of slaves that Jackson was able to run his vast Hermitage estate. Here, the land was used for the sake of producing cotton.
5. Theodore Roosevelt
Teddy Roosevelt’s family had been influential and wealthy at the time of the 26th president’s birth in 1858. And later, Roosevelt himself was given access to a substantial trust fund. However, he apparently wasted this money on a failed undertaking somewhere in the Dakotas. With that, he needed another way to make his living.
Roosevelt earned a lot of money as a writer. In fact, he authored a large number of books – supposedly roughly 18 in total. And on top of this, he was also the owner of a large estate. This was Long Island’s Sagamore Hill, which encompassed about 235 acres of land.
4. Thomas Jefferson
As one of the country’s Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson remains as one of America’s most famed presidents to this day. But in addition to his political successes, Jefferson was also a very wealthy man – to the tune of more than $230 million at his financial peak. The son of a landowner, it’s said that much of his own estate was inherited from his dad.
Jefferson owned a massive plantation in Virginia called Monticello. This covered some 5,000 acres and was worked over by a large number of slaves. As well as the revenue that he received from Monticello, Jefferson earned from his political career. Yet in spite of all this, he nonetheless slipped into debt before his death.
3. George Washington
The name George Washington is, of course, one of the most recognizable in American history. Yet in addition to being the country’s first ever president, he was also a substantial property magnate and slaveowner. He came from an affluent family himself, but he also benefited from his spouse’s clan passing along their vast holdings.
But on top of everything else, Washington also earned a huge amount from his presidency. His wage, in fact, was larger than any received by any succeeding leaders. In 1789, apparently, his take-home pay accounted for 2 percent of the entire nation’s annual finances. All in all, his worth by today’s standards would amount to about $587 million.
2. John F. Kennedy
There have been few more influential American families than the Kennedys. So, it should come as no surprise to find one John F. Kennedy near the top of the list of the richest presidents. The Kennedy clan as a whole possessed great wealth – and JFK personally received his fair share of the spoils.
Apparently, there was a substantial family trust fund to which JFK had access, along with his relatives. But on top of this, his wife had also come from a moneyed background. In fact, Jackie Kennedy’s relatives had made a fortune from the oil industry and she hadn’t exactly been left wanting as a result.
1. Donald Trump
It should come as no surprise to learn that it’s the sitting president who’s considered to be the richest in history. Donald Trump came into the world affluent, but he went on to rack up even more wealth after he took control of his dad’s business empire. Today, he’s the owner of countless properties and golf courses dotted around the globe.
Trump is said to be worth billions – supposedly about $3.1 billion, to be more precise. According to Forbes magazine, his real estate holdings in New York alone are worth about $1.5 billion. Beyond the state, his real estate portfolio amounts to roughly $560 million, which is itself just a little more than his fortune from clubs and golf courses.