When you get to feeling down because you may have experienced bankruptcy or discover you are relatively poor, just remember, you don’t have to be rich to become a US President.
In modern times, Presidents have done financially well after serving their country. A retiring US President today gets a nice pension, transition fund, staff and office expenses, medical insurance, and Secret Service pay for security. That was not always the case.
Although many aspiring to the presidency has been wealthy, many have not been in times past. With election laws favoring the political system, even today you do not necessarily have to be wealthy to aspire to the presidency.
Consider each of these relatively poor past US Presidents:
Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) – For all of Lincoln’s ambition, his failures were numerous, and that left him in financial ruin most of his young adult life. In his 20s, Lincoln invested in a general store with a friend whom he later sold out too. Unfortunately, his friend died before Lincoln was set free of the store’s debts. The store’s creditors took him court to where he lost not only the assets from the store but all his remaining assets as well. It was after many more years of failures and a new career as a lawyer before Lincoln was brought to solvency. You already know the rest of the story.
Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877) – Known to live beyond his means even as the highest ranking US General, Grant never really earned a great deal of money. He would have been considered financially as part of the working class of today, not the jet-set class for sure. Later in life after his presidency, Grant was enticed by his son to make a bad investment that eventually caused those who embezzled him to go to prison and bankrupt him. He was hundreds of thousand in debt at the time. He saved his family from going further into debt by selling his personal Civil War memoirs for $500,000 which were published after his death.
William McKinley (1897- 1901) – In 1893, McKinley was heavily invested in a tin plate company when a depression hit the country. His debts totaled nearly $130,000, and they forced McKinley into filing for bankruptcy protection. Friends were solicited to help him manage his estate and sell off his property to pay the debts. Instead, the friends used their connections to raise money to accomplish the task. This caused McKinley a life time of shame.
Harry Truman (1945-1953) – Truman was poor throughout his life. He borrowed against his inheritance and invested in risky mining operations that failed, losing everything. He worked at various menial jobs to support his family, but his biggest financial disaster occurred when he lost $30,000 that he invested with a friend in a clothing store business. The business went bankrupt, but the future President never filed for bankruptcy protection. He was still thousands of dollars in debt when he made his first successful term as a US Senator. Truman’s situation inspired the doubling of the President’s salary, and he and his wife were the first recipients of the Medicare program that was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson.
You don’t have to be rich to become the US President. As you can see, some of them have even filed for bankruptcy protection. There is no shame in being poor or even broke, for that matter.
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