Originally, President’s Day was established to honor the birthday of our country’s first president, George Washington. However, in recent years it’s been delegated to the day of inventory sales and great department store bargains. In honor of the people the day was founded for, we decided to take a look at how some of our leaders were with money:
- The lowest paid president in office was actually our first president voted into office, George Washington. He turned down a salary of $25,000 to protect his image as a selfless public servant. It didn’t hurt him too badly. He was already wealthy on his own as was his wife who came from an extremely wealthy plantation family.
- Thomas Jefferson owned 5,000 acres at Monticello topping out at an estimated $212 million. However, his extravagant spending and lifestyle left him ultimately bankrupt when he died causing his family to sell much of his property to pay off his debts.
- Ulysses S Grant was the victim of a ponzi scheme by his friend and brokerage firm partner, Ferdinand Ward. After being defrauded along with the rest of the investors of Grant and Ward, the president only had $200 to his name.
- Teddy Roosevelt inherited an estimated $125 million trust fund as a young man, but lost much of his fortune from a failed cattle farm. Never in bad shape, he still made earnings from his many book ventures (including several autobiographies) and his 235-acre estate on Long Island.
- Woodrow Wilson advocated the currency reform plan that became the Federal Reserve Act in 1913. Along with the goal of creating a national monetary system, the Federal Reserve Act also provided many financial services such as a check clearing and collection for all members of the Federal Reserve.
- We have Franklin Roosevelt to thank for credit unions going mainstream in America. On June 26, 1934, he signed into law the Federal Credit Union Act which promoted savings and made credit available through a nationwide network of not-for-profit credit unions. This legislation allowed credit unions to be chartered under federal or state law, a policy that remains in place today.
- Harry Truman was so broke when he left office, he had to move into his mother-in-law’s house when he and his wife returned to Missouri. The presidential pension system was established to relieve some of his burden and he was able to comfortably live within his means.
- Few presidents came from more modest origins than Lyndon B Johnson, but his investments in broadcasting, cattle and private aviation left him with a net worth that topped $98 million.
9. Ben Franklin is one of two founding founders featured on US currency that was never president. The Federal Reserve issued the first $100 bill with Franklin’s portrait in 1914. The other presidentless note is the $10 bill with our first US Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.
Have a great President’s Day!
Sources: biography.com, dailyfinance.com, Federal Reserve Act, politico.com, Presidential Profiles, Wall Street Journal, hundred dollar bill