Are US Presidents Rich?

multiple presidents
Politics can make people wealth.

Not all presidents are rich. All of them had more money than most people, but some of them had less than a million in 2022 dollars. About five presidents were not millionaires in today’s dollars.

The least wealthy president may have been Harry Truman, who clearly had less than a million. Truman, who led the country during the great depression and WW2, made more money during his presidency and after it than before.

Truman had financial problems, including when he was president and afterward. Because of Truman’s money troubles, they doubled the presidents’ salary from $50,000 to $100,000 in 1949. They also passed the former president’s act to help Truman and other less wealthy presidents live comfortably after retirement.

James Garfield

Like some other presidents, Garfield grew up poor in a log cabin in Ohio. He put himself through college as a janitor and carpenter, and he became the president of his college. He then assembled an infantry group in the Civil War, reached a high military rank, and served eight terms in congress.

While he made a lot more money than most people as a congressman, he never accumulated a huge amount of wealth. He entered the white house with under $1 Million in 2022 dollars and was assassinated before the end of the first year.

Woodrow Wilson

While the most educated of all American presidents (he had a doctorate in political science plus a law degree), he didn’t make a fortune either as a lawyer or in academia. He made a lot of money teaching at Princeton ($6500 per year, or about $187000 today), but he still entered the white house with a relatively small fortune. Wilson was president during the first world war.

Calvin Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge ran a small law firm in the early 20th century before becoming president from 1923 to 1929. His economic policies led to increased wealth but may have widened the gap between richer and poorer. He made a reasonably large amount of money but didn’t get rich either before or after his presidency.

How Rich are Other Presidents Compared to Joe Biden?

Some presidents are vastly richer than others. A present can have anywhere from more than a billion to less than a million dollars. The richest presidents are more than a hundred times richer than Biden, who might have more than ten times more money than the poorest president did.

The richest five presidents after Trump were:

  • George Washington: $587 million (2016 dollars)
  • Thomas Jefferson: $236 million
  • Theodore Roosevelt: $140 million
  • Andrew Jackson: $132 million
  • James Madison: $113 million

Twenty US presidents were poorer than Joe Biden, with the other 25 being richer. Eight presidents had less than a million dollars and less than 1/8th of Biden’s wealth:

  • James Buchanan
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Andrew Johnson
  • Ulysses S. Grant
  • James A.Garfield
  • Chester A.Arthur
  • Woodrow Wilson
  • Calvin Coolidge

Do Senators and Presidents Make a Lot of Money?

Yes, although not nearly enough to get very wealthy during a term or two in office. A president earned $400,000 per year in 2019. Presidents have always been well-paid. For example, George Washington’s salary was $25,000 per year or almost twice as much as a current president earns if you adjust for inflation.

Former presidents also get generous pensions, especially since the former presidents’ act of 1958. The initial pension was $25,000. Today, former presidents get $219,000 per year, plus a modest staff/budget for the first 30 months after they leave office.

Senators also make a fair bit of money, an average of $174,000 per year, which isn’t always enough to get rich but is a lot more than most people make. Only about 6% of the American population earns more money per year than an average senator.

Can Presidents Make Money After they Serve Their Terms?

Yes, it is easy for former presidents to continue earning money after they leave office if they want to. Since all presidents are famous, they can earn money by going on public speaking tours or by selling books.

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