The 15 richest U.S. presidents (15 items)

Bethan Owen

June 26, 2014

Hillary Clinton has recently come under fire for stating that she and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, were "dead broke" upon leaving the White House, with critics saying that such a statement was out of touch with the real world and the average American.

While it would seem that Americans tend to distrust wealthy politicians and seek presidents who can relate to them financially, historically the U.S. has elected presidents from a wide range of economic backgrounds. Abraham Lincoln may have had an adjusted net worth of less than $1 million, but one of his successors has been valued at upwards of 1 billion dollars.

This list features the 15 richest U.S. presidents at the peak of their financial success, in or out of office, with net worth adjusted to fit today's economy and monetary values. Facts and totals have been taken from TIME and The Atlantic.

1 of 15. George H. W. Bush (1989 - 1993)

Estimated Net Worth: $23 million

George Bush Sr. just barely beat out his son, George W. Bush, who has an estimated net worth of $20 million. H. W. was the son of a successful businessman, but most of his success can be attributed to his number of highly profitable investments.

2 of 15. Grover Cleveland (1885-1889, 1893-1897)

Estimated Net Worth: $25 million

Much of Cleveland's wealth came from the legal field. Cleveland worked as an attorney for twelve years, and also married the daughter of a wealthy lawyer. Lastly, Cleveland owned an estate near Washington, D.C., which he sold for a significant profit.

3 of 15. Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)

Estimated Net Worth: $26 million

Much of Van Buren's money came from his early career as an attorney. Additionally, he was one of just two men — the other was Thomas Jefferson — to have ever served as secretary of state, vice president, and president in his lifetime, making him a prominent politician.

4 of 15. James Monroe (1817-1825)

Estimated Net Worth: $27 million

Monroe married into money and earned a significant salary as president. After retiring he fell into debt, resulting in the forced sale of his plantation and accompanying 3,500 acres.

5 of 15. Bill Clinton (1993 – 2001)

Estimated Net Worth: $38 million

Clinton was not born into money, and did not make a significant amount in office. In fact, when the Clintons left the white house they were $10 million in debt, according to Politico. After his presidency, however, Clinton earned a $12 million advance for his autobiography "My Life," and has since earned millions more for public speaking engagements.
1. Understands Math
Lacey, WA,
June 27, 2014

This is ridiculous. How were these amounts determined? Is it what their estates would be worth today in today's market?

I find it difficult to imagine Jefferson on any richest president list, as one of the major reasons he ran for president is for the salary. His book collection became the beginnings of the Library of Congress because he needed the money that Congress would pay him for his thousands of books.

Rather than freeing his slaves in his will (including Sally Hemings who was probably his lover and definitely his wife's half-sister), he bequeathed them to his daughter Martha, who auctioned them to pay his debts. A horrible postscript to the life of the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence.

2. patriot
Cedar Hills, UT,
June 27, 2014

as Barack would say to all of his former White House mates "you didn't earn that money, the government did". I would love to hear JFK and Barack debate that one....socialist vs capitalist.

3. David
Centerville, UT,
June 27, 2014

It is interesting to note that both Democrats and Republicans are about equally represented on this list of wealthy presidents. Is it disingenuous and hypocritical for Democrats to claim an understanding for the poor and middle class over and above Republicans?

Many wealthy democrats claim to want to help the poor, but statistics of charitable giving show otherwise when compared to conservatives, and despite having Democratic presidents in power for nearly 16 of the past 24 years, the divide between Middle Class and the wealthy has grown tremendously.

Their speech does not match their behavior and results.

4. kaysvillecougar
June 27, 2014

It's amazing how the mainstream media reshape history. One of the greatest examples is how the Kennedy's are presented. In reality, much of their money came from bootlegging. JFK's Dad was an ambitious, unfaithful man who perfected "insider trading." The spine of insider trading laws were based on his low deals. And our current president and his team rake Mitt Romney of the coals for earning his money honestly. Truly amazing! In the words of our current pres, I just don't think Mitt or I have "been given a fair shake." Now it's laughable to see Hillary (Sir Edmond's relative) squirm with the discomfort of having to explain why they have $40 million.

5. Instereo
Eureka, UT,
June 27, 2014

This seems like a really misleading article. "Understands Math" made a comment about Jefferson that hit the mark. When he passed he was deeply in debt and his estate was sold to cover it. Let alone the broken promises to his slaves (and obviously, some of his family). John Adams on the other hand left an estate worth over 200K in those times (it wasn't figured into todays money but should have been) and his estate stayed in his family until 1946 when it was donated to the state of Massachusetts and subsequently turned over the the Federal Park System.

Also, some seem to look at Democrat/Republican not realizing that over the history of this county there have been times when the Democratic Party was the conservative party and the Republicans were the Liberal/Progressives.

Finally does it really matter. What our country needs is someone to serve the people, not the select few.