12 American Presidents Who Were Way Poorer Than You’d Ever Imagine

12 American Presidents Who Were Way Poorer Than You'd Ever Imagine

While we often perceive U.S. presidents as being loaded with the kind of wealth that makes our bank accounts whimper in comparison, that’s not always the case.

Let’s debunk that myth today, shall we? Here are 12 American presidents who were way poorer than ever imagined.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
IceKoldKube via Wikimedia Commons

Abraham Lincoln was born in a humble log cabin. He served as President from 1861-1865. Though his investments in a general store in his 20s resulted in significant financial loss, his subsequent career as an attorney prevented him from sinking into abject poverty.

Harry S. Truman

12 American Presidents Who Were Way Poorer Than You'd Ever Imagine
National Archives and Records Administration. Office of Presidential Libraries. Harry S. Truman Library Via Wikimedia Commons

Truman served as the President of the United States from 1945 to 1953. However, he faced financial setbacks due to unsuccessful investments in businesses like a clothing store and mining operations.

After his presidency, Truman and his wife, Bess, lived in his mother-in-law’s house, relying mainly on a $25,000 annual presidential pension. They were also the first beneficiaries of Medicare after its enactment.

Ulysses S. Grant

12 American Presidents Who Were Way Poorer Than You'd Ever Imagine
Brady-Handy Photograph Collection, Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons

He was the 18th serving from 1869-1877. After his presidency, he invested heavily in a Wall Street firm that collapsed, forcing him to declare bankruptcy. He wrote a memoir to make ends meet.

It’s a good thing he did — it’s still considered one of the greatest presidential autobiographies ever written. The memoirs sold for almost $500,000.

William Henry Harrison

12 American Presidents Who Were Way Poorer Than You'd Ever Imagine
Albert Gallatin Hoit via Wikimedia Commons

William Henry Harrison’s presidential term was remarkably short, spanning just 32 days, making him the first President to die in office.

Unfortunately, he encountered financial difficulties due to significant losses in farming, which compelled him to sell off a substantial portion of his land.

Calvin Coolidge

12 American Presidents Who Were Way Poorer Than You'd Ever Imagine
Notman Studio, Boston. Restoration by User: Adam Cuerden via Wikimedia Commons

He served as President from 1923 to 1929. After the White House, he spent his time as a writer but never made much money.

Chester A. Arthur

12 American Presidents Who Were Way Poorer Than You'd Ever Imagine
Charles Milton Bell via Wikimedia Commons

Chester served as President of the United States from 1881 to 1885. Before his presidency, Chester had a successful career as a lawyer and politician. However, despite his financial success, he passed away with little remaining.

William McKinley

12 American Presidents Who Were Way Poorer Than You'd Ever Imagine
Unknown author via Wikimedia Commons

William McKinley, previously serving as the Governor of Ohio, held office from 1897 to 1901. He faced financial hardship during the depression of 1893 and was compelled to declare bankruptcy while still serving as the governor. However, he rebounded from this setback and was elected President three years later.

Woodrow Wilson

12 American Presidents Who Were Way Poorer Than You'd Ever Imagine
Harris & Ewing via Wikimedia Commons

Wilson was in the White House from 1913-1921. Wilson served as President of Princeton University and then the Governor of New Jersey before becoming President. Despite these prestigious positions, he only accumulated a little wealth.

James Garfield

12 American Presidents Who Were Way Poorer Than You'd Ever Imagine
Unknown; part of Brady-Handy Photograph Collection via Wikimedia Commons

He tragically fell victim to assassination during his first year in office. Before his presidency, he dedicated 18 years to serving in the House of Representatives. Additionally, he owned a small home and property in Mentor, Ohio.

Andrew Johnson

12 American Presidents Who Were Way Poorer Than You'd Ever Imagine
Mathew Brady, Retouched by Mmxx via Wikimedia Commons

He served as the 17th President of the United States from 1865 to 1869. Before his remarkable 25-year career in public service, he excelled as a skilled tailor. Before assuming the presidency, he had previously held esteemed positions as the Governor of Tennessee and a U.S. Senator.

James Buchanan

12 American Presidents Who Were Way Poorer Than You'd Ever Imagine
George Peter Alexander Healy via Wikimedia Commons

Hailing from Pennsylvania, Buchanan did not come from a privileged background and dedicated most of his professional life to public service.

Throughout his career, he served as a state representative, U.S. congressman, senator, foreign minister, and secretary of state, ultimately ascending to the presidency.

Thomas Jefferson

12 American Presidents Who Were Way Poorer Than You'd Ever Imagine
Rembrandt Peale via Wikimedia Commons

Our first Secretary of State and our third President (1801-1809), Thomas Jefferson, had a political career that was financially strained.

Despite inheriting over 5,000 acres of land from his father, Jefferson was deeply in debt when he died due to his lavish lifestyle and the numerous visitors he entertained at his beloved Monticello.

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