Tuesday, February 22, 2011

US Presidents...From millionaires to half a billionaires.

America’s first president – and its wealthiest: George Washington worth over half a billion in modern money

Last updated at 2:24 PM on 22nd February 2011
Washington's wealth: George Washington, shown in a 1796 Gilbert Stuart painting, was worth around $525m in today's money
Washington's wealth: George Washington, shown in a 1796 Gilbert Stuart painting, was worth around $525m in today's money
He took office in a time of primitive housing and colonial oppression but George Washington’s wealth would have made him a king amongst men, it has emerged.
A survey of the net wealth of America’s 43 presidents has found that, comparatively, the nation’s first leader was its wealthiest.
In today’s money, George Washington’s land and assets were worth over half a billion dollars while current President Barack Obama is worth just $5million, most of which comes from book royalties.
A study by 24/7 Wall St found that while many presidents came from wealthy stock and left office in financial comfort, many lost their wealth when they relinquished the presidency, with several going bankrupt.
Washington, however, had a Virginia plantation consisting of five separate farms on 8,000 acres of valuable land and also had a higher income than any subsequent president – in 1789, his annual salary was worth two per cent of the entire U.S. budget.
Four of the top five wealthiest Presidents in U.S. history were in office in the nation’s first 100 years, with Theodore Roosevelt the only 20th century president to feature in the list’s upper echelons with a net wealth of $125million.
Lyndon Baines Johnson is the wealthiest 20th century president to feature in the top ten, with a fortune of $98million.
ClintonPresident Lyndon Johnson
Top ten: Lyndon Baines Johnson (left) and William Jefferson Clinton (right) featured near the top of the list, with estimated fortunes of $98m and $38m
Meanwhile, Bill Clinton's $38million estate comes from his substantial earnings as an author and public speaker after leaving the White House.
And for every Washington or Thomas Jefferson – who had a net wealth of $212million – there were several presidents whose net wealth never exceeded $1million, including Abraham Lincoln and Civil War hero Ulysses S Grant.
Disparate fortunes: While George W Bush is in 16th on the list with a $20m estate, current President Barack Obama is equal 25th, with a $5m estimated wealth
Comparatively poor: Abraham Lincoln, one of America's greatest presidents, had a net worth of less than $1million while Woodrow Wilson's estate was equally unremarkable
George W Bush is placed 16th on the list, with a fortune of $20million, much of which came from his time in the oil business and the sale of the Texas Rangers baseball team.


George Washington (1789-1797) $525m
Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) $212m
Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) $125m
James Madison (1809-1817) $101m
Lyndon B Johnson (1963-1969) $98m
Herbert Clark Hoover (1929-1933) $75m
Franklin D Roosevelt (1933-1945) $60m
John Tyler (1841-1845) $51m
William J Clinton (1993- 2001), $38m
James Monroe (1817-1825), $27m 
There is one notable absentee from the list but his assassination precludes his inclusion – John F Kennedy’s family estate was worth nearly $1billion, but he never inherited the fortune.
And where does the current president fit in the list? Somewhere in the middle, with Barack Obama’s estimated wealth of $5million mainly coming from royalties of his bestselling books but likely to rise significantly when he leaves office.
The 24/7 Wall St list also reveals the changing face of presidential wealth, from the land-based fortunes of early leaders, to the small public service incomes of middle class presidents in the mid to late 19th century, to the inherited wealth of the Roosevelt, Kennedy and both Bushes.
The 24/7 Wall St was first published in May last year and while the net worth of non-living Presidents cannot change, except as measured by inflation, the value of living Presidents’ estates may have changed, though it is not likely to affect their place in the rankings.

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