Some US presidents won their wealth before taking office (Donald Trump, we’re looking at you). Others achieved the bulk of their fortunes only after departing the Oval Office. Still others saw their net worth reach its peak during the presidential period itself. Of course, not all politicians get famous, and not all presidents get wealthy, but of those who do, the results are staggering. With even the very poorest on our top 20 list of richest presidents scoring a net worth of $23 million, it may be time for us all to start reconsidering a career in politics. Keep in mind these numbers are adjusted for inflation:
20. John Adams Net Worth – $23 Million
John Adams served as the 2nd president of the United States from 1798 to 1801. Prior to his appointment, Adams had served two terms as Vice President under George Washington, as well as playing a key role in the American War of Independence. During his tenure as President, Adams’ primary achievement was engineering a peaceful resolution to the Quasi- War waged with France between 1798 and 1800.
19. John Quincy Adams Net Worth – $23 Million
Son of founding father and 2nd US president, John Adams, John Quincy Adams was elected president in 1824. Adams began his political career as Secretary of State to President James Monroe, where he was responsible for acquiring Florida from Spain. His appointment as president followed a 5-way election battle between Adams, Secretary of War, John C. Calhoun, speaker of the House, Henry Clay, Secretary of the Treasury, William H. Crawford, and General Andrew Jackson. The election was the first in US history to end without any one candidate winning a majority of votes; as a result, the election was ultimately decided by the House of Representatives. Faced with accusations of corruption, Adams lost out on the 1828 re-election battle to Andrew Jackson.
18. George H.W. Bush Net Worth – $26 Million
Republican George H. W. Bush served as 41st president of the United States between 1989 and 1993, and as 43rd vice president from 1981 to 1989. Prior to his presidency, Bush held a number of high-profile positions, including congressman from 1966- 1970, Ambassador to the United Nations under President Nixon, and Chief of the Liaison Office in China and director of the CIA under Gerald Ford. Bush lost out on re-election to Bill Clinton in 1992, but would come to our attention again when the 2000 election of his son, George W. Bush, made the pair the only father-son presidential duo since John Adams and John Quincy Adams.
17. Grover Cleveland Net Worth – $28 Million
Grover Cleveland is the only president in US history to serve two non-consecutive terms in office: his first came between 1885 and 1889, and the second between 1893 and 1897. Known for his classical liberalism and probity, Cleveland was well-respected during his first term, but became notably less so during his second, largely as a result of the numerous challenges the country faced during his tenure (not least the 1893-1897 economic depression). By the end of his presidency, Cleveland was widely derided by both the public and his own politicians. History has, however, redeemed him, and he’s today considered among the most successful leaders of all time.
16. Martin Van Buren Net Worth- $29 Million
Martin Van Buren served as the eighth president of the United States between 1837 and 1841. While Van Buren achieved success in maintaining amicable relations with Britain, his presidency was marred by his continuation of predecessor Andrew Jackson’s policy of forced migration of Native Americans, and his denial of Texas’ bid for entry to the Union. The latter ultimately proved his downfall; in the 1840 election, he was turned out of office in favor of Whig candidate, Henry Harrison.
15. James Monroe Net Worth – $30 Million
5th president of the United States of America James Monroe had a distinguished career as a lawyer, diplomat and statesman prior to his presidential appointment in 1817. He is best known for introducing the Monroe Doctrine, which opposed European colonization of America, and the Missouri Compromise, which allowed the admission of Maine to the Union as a free state, and the admission of Missouri as a slave state- thereby maintaining the balance of power between the North and South. After surviving two terms in office, Monroe died from heart failure on July 4th, 1831, thus becoming the third US president in history to die on Independence Day.
14. George W. Bush Net Worth – $40 Million
43rd president of the United States George W. Bush served two terms in office between 2001 and 2009, after a 5-year tenure as the 46th Governor of Texas. Bush’s appointment was one of the most controversial in history, involving a narrow victory against Democrat candidate Al Gore in an election that involved a stopped recount in Florida. His tenure as president was no less divisive: his “war on terror” following the September 11 terrorist attacks (and in particular the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq), was, and remains, the subject of heated debate. Bush is known as one of the most polarizing presidents of all time: directly following the 9/11 attacks, Bush had the highest presidential approval ratings of all time; conversely, his ratings after the 2008 financial crisis were among the lowest in history.
13. Barack Obama Net Worth – $40 Million
Former attorney Barack Obama was elected 44th president of the United States in 2009, and enjoyed 2 terms in office prior to his departure from the White House in 2017. Obama’s presidency was remarkable for its succession of landmark bills, which included the introduction of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare), the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010, and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. He’s also credited for reducing nuclear weapon production and ending America’s controversial occupation of Iraq. Obama’s approval ratings remained stable throughout his presidency, and his popularity hasn’t waned since leaving office; in 2018, he ranked for the 11th consecutive year as the most admired man in America by Gallup.
12. John Tyler Net Worth – $57 Million
John Tyler served as tenth president of the United States between 1841 and 1845 after a brief stint as vice president under William Henry Harrison. Tyler ascended to office after the death of Harrison after only one month in office; his appointment marked him as the first president to attain office without election. Besides a few noteworthy exceptions (such as the Webster- Ashburton Treaty with Britain and the Treaty of Wanghia with the Qing dynasty of China) Tyler’s presidency was largely unremarkable, failing to leave a mark on public memory and being held in generally low regard by historians.
11. Franklin D. Roosevelt Net Worth – $66 Million
Franklin D. Roosevelt served as 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. During his tenure, Roosevelt enjoyed immense popularity among both the electorate and his fellow politicians, leading to a record 4 presidential election victories. His handling of the economic depression and America’s subsequent involvement in World War II cemented his status as one of the most influential figures of the 20th centuries, and he’s now considered to be among the greatest American presidents of all time.
10. Bill Clinton Net Worth – $75 Million
42nd president of the United States William Jefferson Clinton was elected to office in 1993 and served 2 terms before departing the Oval Office for good in 2001. Despite his numerous political successes (including the State’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act) Clinton is most remembered for his extra-curricular activities. In 1998, Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives for perjury and obstruction of justice following accusations he’d deliberately concealed an affair with 22-year-old intern, Monica Lewinsky. Clinton was ultimately acquitted in 1999, and left office in 2001 with the highest end-approval ratings of any US President since Ronald Reagan.
9. Herbert Clark Hoover: Net Worth – $83 Million
Prior to his election as 31st president of the United States in 1929, Herbert Hoover served in various capacities under President’s Wilson, Harding, and Coolidge, including head of the Commission for Relief in Belgium during World War I, and Secretary of Commerce from 1920. Shortly after Hoover took the presidential reigns, the stock market crashed, effectively setting the scene for the remainder of Hover’s term in office. Despite his many and varied attempts at reinvigorating the economy, Hoover’s policies were ultimately unsuccessful, and he was roundly beaten by his successor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the 1932 presidential election.
8. Lyndon Johnson Net Worth – $109 Million
36th president of the United States of America, Lyndon B Johnson, came to office following predecessor John F. Kennedy’s death in 1963. Johnson’s domestic policy was most notable for his “Great Society” legislation, a set of programs designed to improve civil rights and eliminate poverty among America’s historically disadvantaged. Whilst his domestic policies proved highly popular among the nation’s liberals, his foreign policies proved less so: during his tenure, Johnson dramatically escalated American involvement in the Vietnam War, with the number of troops rising from 16000 in 1963 to 52500 in 1967. Johnson is now remembered in a mixed light; as historian Robert Dallek notes, “He will be remembered as a larger-than-life figure with great accomplishments and great failings”.
7. James Madison Net Worth – $113 Million
Founding Father and fourth president of the United States James Madison is widely acknowledged as the” Father of the Constitution”, thanks to his integral role in the composition of both the United States Constitution and the United States Bill of Rights. Madison succeeded Thomas Jefferson as president in 1809, and was subsequently responsible for leading the United States into the 1812 War with Britain, as well as presiding over the launch of the Second Bank of the United States in 1816. Madison’s tenure as president ended in 1817, but he continued to be active in politics, serving as adviser to both Andrew Jackson and several other succeeding presidents.
6. Andrew Jackson Net Worth – $132 Million
Prior to taking the presidential reigns in 1829, Andrew Jackson served as a highly respected general in the United States Army, wining multiple victories for his country during the 1775- 1783 War of Independence. His war record was well matched by that of his presidency: during his term in office, Jackson became the only president to completely clear the national debt, as well as the first serving president to survive an assassination attempt. While Jackson ranks favorably among historians, his policy of forced migration towards Native Americans has led to a decline in his overall popularity with the public.
5. Theodore Roosevelt Net Worth – $139 Million
American statesman, politician and writer, Theodore Roosevelt, served as 26th president of the United States between 1901 and 1909. Roosevelt took on the presidential role following predecessor William McKinley’s assassination, and subsequently went on to become one of the greatest US presents of all time. Highlights of his presidency included the establishment of multiple national parks and conservation areas, successfully negotiating the end of the Russo-Japanese War, the expansion of the US Navy, and the construction of the Panama Canal. Plagued by ill health from childhood, Roosevelt died in 1919, but his name lives on as one of only 4 presidents chosen to be depicted on Mount Rushmore.
4. Thomas Jefferson Net Worth – $235 Million
Founding father Thomas Jefferson served as the third president of the United States between 1801 and 1809. Known for his work on the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson’s achievements as president included overseeing the Louisiana Purchase, successfully negotiating peace with France, and signing the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves- a major forward step towards the abolition of slavery. Although Jefferson ranks highly among U.S. presidents, his tenure was marred by his controversial policies towards Native Americans, which included the forced migration of tribes to the newly incorporated Louisiana.
3. George Washington Net Worth – $587 Million
After leading the Patriot’s to victory during the American Revolutionary War, George Washington established the new federal government at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and subsequently served as the nation’s first president between 1789 and 1797. Washington key role in the drafting and publication of the Constitution earned him the title of “Father of his Country”, while his strong leadership and unifying policies have seen him consistently rank as one of the most highly regarded American presidents of all time.
2. John F. Kennedy Net Worth – $1.1 billion
John F. Kennedy served as the 35th president of the United States from 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. Despite his short tenure, Kennedy has become one of the most enduring figures in political history, and consistently ranks as one of the most popular presidents of all time. Despite his involvement in some contentious foreign policies (such as the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion), Kennedy is best remembered for his advancement of civil rights… as well as his extra-marital affairs, which included a rumored fling with screen legend, Marilyn Monroe.
1. Donald Trump Net Worth – $3.1 Billion
45th and current president of the United States, Donald Trump, earned his fortune in business before entering the political sphere as the Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential race. His election and subsequent presidency have been plagued by controversies, including frequent accusations of sexism, racism and the perpetuation of false or misleading statements. As the oldest and wealthiest person to ever take on the presidential role, Trump is also the only president in history to attempt diplomatic relations via Twitter. How history will judge him, and those who elected him, only time will tell… although some may say the writing is already on the wall.