It’s easy to remember the accomplishments of U.S. presidents without realizing just how financially successful they were behind the scenes. With the help of finance websites analyzing and adjusting for inflation, we’ve compiled the definitive ranking of each U.S. president based on their net worth. Read on to see how these leaders amassed their fortunes — and who didn’t make the list.
21. Gerald Ford – $8 million
Gerald Ford made history as the first-ever president to enter office without being elected. First, his predecessor Richard Nixon’s vice president Spiro T. Agnew resigned, and Nixon tapped him to fill the post. Then, when Nixon himself resigned, Ford became president by default. Throughout his term, he was known for helping restore confidence in the public after their distrust from the Watergate era.
Considering the fact that Ford had no inheritance, it’s impressive that he was able to make this list with a net worth of $8 million. He amassed his wealth by owning various properties in Michigan, California, and Colorado. However, he also received a lot of money from book advances, and for working for a number of successful American companies.
20. Dwight D. Eisenhower – $9 million
America’s 34th president was well-known for the way he handled the tensions of the Cold War, in the age of the increasing nuclear threats coming from the Soviet Union. The former D-Day general also helped end the war in Korea in 1953, strengthened social security, and created a public highway system that is still used today.
From a financial standpoint, he also didn’t inherit any money, and was forced to make his own dollar the old-fashioned way. Much of his career prior had been spent in the military, and his five-year presidency stint at Columbia University was also on his résumé. A nice chunk of his wealth can also be attributed to his massive farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
19. John F. Kennedy – $10 million
One of the youngest U.S. presidents of all time, and a member of the wealthy and politically-involved Kennedy family, JFK could have actually been placed much higher on this list. However, even though the Kennedy family is estimated to be worth around $2 billion, John alone checks out at only $10 million, placing him lower than some may have expected.
Nevertheless, this military hero-turned president was known for diffusing Cold War tensions, as well as bringing a ton of federal support for what grew to become the civil rights movement. Given the fact that his 1963 assassination was one of the most shocking and tragic events in American history, it’s safe to say he meant the world to his country.
18. James K. Polk – $11 million
James K. Polk’s tenure as president came at a time when America’s boundaries were getting larger, and thanks to him, the nation expanded by more than one-third of its size. This is even more impressive when you consider that Polk actually was a dark horse in his own election. He stayed under the radar but eventually got the White House job.
Polk improved the banking system, settled a longtime boundary dispute with the British government, and was a positive voice during the Mexican-American War. He and his wife inherited a great deal of money from both of their parents, who were very wealthy landowners. However, he himself made a decent amount of cash as a speaker of the house and working as the governor for Tennessee.
17. Ronald Reagan – $14 million
Ronald Reagan had worked both as an actor and the governor of California before serving his two terms as president. His fortune had been cultivated from a handful of different places, and Hollywood was certainly one of them. He also was an owner of numerous properties, which included a 688-acre piece of land in Santa Barbara, California.
As if that wasn’t enough, Reagan also received a lot of money from sales of his autobiography. Nicknamed the Great Communicator, Reagan cut taxes, reasoned with the Soviet government to reduce their nuclear arms, and eventually helped bring an end to the Cold War.
16. Richard Nixon – $17 million
Richard Nixon was the only president ever to actually make the bold choice to resign from office. Halfway through his presidency, Nixon left the White House — and one can imagine how hard that must have been, considering he’d been trying for years to get the job, losing out to John F. Kennedy more than a decade beforehand.
Some of Nixon’s accomplishments during his term include signing the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as help to thaw diplomatic ties with China and the Soviet Union. Regarding his fortune, a lot of it came from book advances, as well as his famous interviews with television host David Frost. He was also a large owner of real estate, adding to his already hefty bank account.
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15. John Adams – $21 million
John Adams, founding father and second U.S. president, held quite the list of stats, leading the American Revolution and standing up to the colonial British authorities in response to their oppressive tax systems. He also helped orchestrate the Treaty of Paris, which ultimately helped put an end to the American Revolutionary War, cementing himself as one of the great founding fathers.
John Adams didn’t receive a lot of money from his father, but his wife, Abigail Adams, came from a very wealthy family. Much of his money came from their 40-acre estate in Quincy, Massachusetts, which came to be known as Peacefield. Adams was also a very successful lawyer in his time, which certainly added to his overall net worth.
14. John Quincy Adams – $23 million
It’s fitting that the son of John Adams, John Quincy Adams, would be right next in line on this list. After all, it makes sense that their size of wealth would be pretty close to one another, especially since he inherited his father’s estate. In any case, the younger Adams held a pretty impressive set of accomplishments just like his father. He negotiated the Treaty of Ghent, which helped end the War of 1812.
During the time that he served under President James Monroe, he helped determine America’s new foreign policy, which took shape under the Monroe Doctrine. He was extremely outspoken over many controversial issues at the time, providing a slight foreshadowing to what Abraham Lincoln would ultimately come to accomplish.
13. George H. W. Bush – $26 million
George H.W. Bush was a naval aviator during World War II, as well as a wealthy businessman working in the oil industry. Eventually he made his way into politics, becoming a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1967. After rising his way through Washington’s ranks, he became Ronald Reagan’s vice president, and then succeeded him as president. During his stint, he led the military against Iraq and Panama.
The economic recession led in part to Bush serving one term, losing his reelection bid to Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton. His fortunes did not take a wind fall, and his family would continue to maintain a place on the American political scene for decades to come, on both a state and national level.
12. Grover Cleveland – $28 million
One cool tidbit about Grover Cleveland is that he’s the only president to ever serve two terms that weren’t consecutive. Clearly the American public didn’t realize what they’d had until it was gone, because they were clamoring for some Cleveland during his absence. However, there are many mixed opinions over Cleveland during his time, with some naysayers of his methods during the Panic of 1893.
Nevertheless, Grover Cleveland was extremely wealthy, serving as a successful attorney for 12 years, and also making a lot of money from selling his Washington D.C.-adjacent estate. Eventually he’d go on to purchase Westland Mansion, a property also worth a fortune.
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11. Martin Van Buren – $29 million
It seems incredible to say, but eighth president Martin Van Buren was actually the first-ever president born as a U.S. citizen, let alone the first one of Dutch ancestry. In his early years, he rose to prominence as a New York politician, eventually forming the new Democratic Party. The party heavily supported Andrew Jackson, who was president at the time.
Eventually Van Buren’s popularity grew large enough that he managed to land the esteemed White House gig, but unfortunately he served during a financial crisis, which dampened peoples’ spirits. Throughout his life he made a lot of money as an attorney, and also benefited heavily from his 225-acre Lindenwald estate, which was located in upstate New York.
10. James Monroe – $30 million
The American western territory wasn’t even a fraction as big as it is now when fifth president James Monroe took over. Monroe helped expand the fledgling United States westwards. What’s more, he made sure other countries knew not to intervene with their progress, setting up a foreign policy known as the Monroe Doctrine.
Monroe fought in the American Revolutionary War before getting into politics, and learned much of his political savvy from the example of Thomas Jefferson himself. Some of his money came from his eight years as president, but a nice chunk of it also came from his massive 3,500-acre Highland property in Virginia.
9. John Tyler – $57 million
John Tyler entered office as the tenth president with a funny nickname – “His Accidency”. He had been vice president to William Henry Harrison, and when Harrison unexpectedly passed away mere weeks after taking office, Tyler was given the reins to the Oval Office. He was a politician who strongly supported states’ rights. When he took power, he clashed hard with the Whig Party, who tried to impeach him.
Before his term ended, he succeeded in helping through the 1845 annexation of Texas, among other impressive acts. From a wealth standpoint, Tyler’s high net worth can be attributed to the 1,000-acre tobacco plantation that he inherited, along with the 1,600-acre Sherwood Manor estate that he would later come to own.
8. Franklin D. Roosevelt – $66 million
In a time where America was struggling through the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt provided a strong yet calm voice that restored faith that good things were coming. He set up the famous “fireside chats”, where he would speak directly to the public on the radio, while telling them his plans for positive reform. One of these reform plans was the famous New Deal, which completely upturned the federal government’s policy.
If that wasn’t enough, he led America to a World War II victory against Nazi Germany, passing away in office mere weeks before the war in Europe ended. Roosevelt was so respected that he became the only president to be elected four times. His wealth came from numerous places: his inheritance, his wife’s inheritance, his 800-acre Springwood estate, and a handful of other properties.
7. Herbert Hoover – $83 million
It was unfortunate for 31st president Herbert Hoover that he took office the moment the Great Depression took hold on the American public. No matter how impressive Hoover’s accomplishments may have been, history will always have a bitter taste in its mouth due to the hardships of that particular time period.
Even though he wasn’t responsible for the start of the Great Depression, many Americans criticized him for how he handled it, believing him to be out of touch with the common blue-collar worker. Hoover was indeed a very wealthy man, making millions in the mining industry after having grown up as an orphan. He eventually came to own the famous Hoover House, which is located in Monterey, California.
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6. Lyndon B. Johnson – $109 million
Before LeBron James, the original “LBJ” was 36th president Lyndon B. Johnson. He’s known for a handful of reform programs that he put into place, hoping to create what he called a “Great Society”. From Medicare to the Civil Rights Act, it’s safe to say that Johnson left America’s health and financial system better off than when he came in.
From a military perspective, his presidency was marked by a sharp escalation of American involvement in the war in Vietnam. When Johnson was a child, his wealthy father actually lost all the family’s money — but eventually LBJ came to create his own hefty estate. A couple of his assets included a private aircraft as well as a prominent Texas-based radio and television station.
5. James Madison – $113 million
One of the later Founding Fathers, James Madison advocated for his new country to have a strong federal government. In fact, his substantial work on the Bill of Rights ultimately earned Madison the nickname “Father of the Constitution”. Together with Thomas Jefferson, he formed the first-ever opposition political party, which was a mix of both the Democratic and Republican parties.
He helped oversee the Louisiana Purchase (before he entered office), and eventually came to lead America against Great Britain in the War of 1812. During his life, he was known to be the largest landowner in Virginia, with an estate that stretched over a whopping 5,000 acres! He also made a great chunk of his wealth while serving as Secretary of State.
4. Andrew Jackson – $132 million
The seventh American president was actually born into poverty, which just makes it all the more impressive that he’s so high on this list. As a teenager, he fought in the American Revolutionary War. In the early 1800s, he would become a successful lawyer and politician — and when the War of 1812 broke out, he topped his popularity off by becoming a military hero as well.
Although he became extremely wealthy, many believe that he never lost touch with the plight of the typical American blue-collar worker. In addition to the money he made on his own, he also married into substantial wealth. Jackson eventually came to own valuable properties, including The Hermitage, which was as large as 1,050 acres.
3. Theodore Roosevelt – $139 million
Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt brought a youthful, exuberant, strong energy into the White House when the world least expected it. His predecessor, William McKinley, had just been tragically assassinated. A hero of the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt provided a powerful presence that America needed in such a troubling time. Known for stating that American should “speak softly and carry a big stick”, he influenced future presidents to not be afraid to take military action.
Roosevelt was born into the very popular and wealthy Roosevelt family, and grew up with a massive built-in trust fund. However, he also made a lot of money as an author, and by profiting off Sagamore Hill, a Long Island real estate property that he owned.
2. Thomas Jefferson – $236 million
Thomas Jefferson’s name alone has such incalculable weight in American history, and it’s thanks to his numerous contributions to the country. The third president was responsible for penning the Declaration Of Independence, believing strongly that the government’s range of control over their citizens should be limited. During his presidency, the Louisiana Purchase took place, as well as the expeditions of Lewis and Clark.
His estimated net worth of $236 million can partially be credited to the 3,000-acre property left to him by his father, and his revered 5,000-acre Monticello property as well. Jefferson was in politics for much of his adult life, and made a lot of his wealth throughout his service at various esteemed positions.
1. George Washington – $587 million
How can we summarize the incredible career of the first-ever president of the United States? Among so many accomplishments, George Washington was acutely aware of the fact that he was setting an example for centuries of future presidents to come. With this in mind, Washington served his term with integrity and national purpose, supported by his impressive military background as commander in chief for the Continental Army.
So why is he worth over half a million dollars? Other than the fact that his face is literally on the one-dollar bill, it’s known that he made substantially more than the presidents that came after him. Washington’s salary took up a whopping 2% of the U.S. budget. He also owned five separate properties, which spread over 8,000 acres of land.
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