Remember when Hillary Clinton said that she and former President Bill were flat broke when they left the White House? Don’t worry though, they’ve managed to work their way back up into the multi-millionaire club.
There have been a few Presidents who didn’t fare so well in the personal finances department. Although some of them even appear on our money, they didn’t have any money of their own!
In the 1760s, and well before the American Revolution, George Washington owned a tobacco farm. He believed his business partner, Robert Cary was selling his tobacco for too little and was mismanaging the farm’s supply. After a few years, and settling his debt with Cray, Washington had to borrow money to go to Philidelphia to preside over the Constitutional Convention.
Thomas Jefferson spent most of his life in debt. He was always borrowing money. He even borrowed money from one of his slaves. He was known to borrow money to pay the interest on old loans. When he died, Jefferson was $100,000 in debt.
James Monroe spent a small fortune bankrolling his travel and paying his staff while serving as the fifth President. The final straw for him was when he and his wife decided to foot the bill in an attempt to upgrade and refurbish the White House. Monroe was still in debt when he died in 1831.
Even Abraham Lincoln lost it all in the 1830s. Before being involved in politics, Lincoln partnered up with a man named William Berry to open a general store in New Salem, IL. Lincoln viewed general store owners as an essential part of the community. They were the providers of everything the townspeople needed. In 1833 after just a couple of years in business, the Berry-Lincoln store closed its doors. Then, in 1835, Berry died, leaving Lincoln with his portion of the debt. It took years for him to pay it all off.
If you are one of the millions of Americans currently struggling with the consequences of bad financial decision making, you can take some comfort in the fact that you are not alone. We all make mistakes with money; teachers, plumbers, lawyers, even presidents. You might find this hard to believe, but there are many US presidents who went broke.