Who was the last US President not a millionaire when elected?

Who was the last US President not a millionaire when elected? I’m pretty sure they all were going back to Kennedy, but Ike’s personal wealth I have no idea about - a lifelong Army career makes it unlikely I guess but I have no idea of his parents’ financial status.

I don’t believe the Clintons had a net worth over $1 million before taking office. They were pretty wealthy, but most of their net worth existed on paper. If Clinton didn’t beat Bush, then Bill and Hilary would have been looking for a home of their own. And they didn’t own one at the time.

They’ve done better since.

Paper counts though, right?

If I own $50 million in stocks but have no other assets and 10 maxed credit cards, I’m still a millionaire.

Or does “paper” mean something else?

Well, the Clintons were probably millionaires in the same sense that Rick (“Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire”) Rockwell was. That is, if you’d liquidated ALL their assets, they’d almost certainly have had a million dollars. But nowadays, that doesn’t necessarily make anyone fabulously wealthy.

The Clintons were well off, but they weren’t mega-rich and weren’t living the life of the Jet Set. And while Hillary grew up in very comfortable circumstances, Bill definitely did not.

Eisenhower did not grow up rich. He wasn’t hurting for money by the time he ran for President, mind you, but he probably was not a millionaire. The job he left in order to seek the GOP nomination was president of my alma mater, Columbia University. Now, the president of Columbia makes a nice paycheck, but nobody gets rich doing that job.

Harry Truman definitely was not rich before or after his term as President.

The two wild cards here are Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon. Ford was a career politician, spending 25 years in the House of Representatives. While he went to Yale Law School, he didn’t spend years as a corporate lawyer, so he probably never raked in huge bucks. So, while he never had to worry about where his next meal came from, he probably wasn’t a millionaire when he became President in 1974.

As for Nixon… he grew up lower middle-class, and probably wasn’t particularly well off after leaving the Vice Presidency in 1961. But between 1963 and 1968, he was practicing law in New York and making very good money. He may or may not have been a millionaire by the time he won the election in 1968.

Harry Truman certainly, if for no other reason that a million was Big Money back then. Jerry Ford probably. Jimmy Carter, probably not as his family business would have almost certainly put him over the limit. Ronny, probably not, although his finances were more modest than many would think.

Extreme nitpick: Ford is irrelevant to the OP, as he was never elected President.

I recall a statement on a documentary I saw many and many a year ago (sorry, no cite) that Nixon was the first person to become a millionaire during his presidency. Take it as you will.

Clinton’s salary as president was the highest annual income he’d ever made up to that point. Not only was he not a millionaire before he was president he was the first one in a long while who’d grown up dirt poor.

Eisenhower’s family wasn’t rich; he grew up in a very modest house in Abilene, Kansas. However, given that he bought this 190-acre estate in Pennsylvania in 1950, I’m guessing that he was a millionaire when elected. Of course, one can’t be sure; a million dollars was a lot of money in 1952 and he may not have paid cash. But he sold his memoirs after retiring from the Army and no doubt was well paid for them.

Since 1978, presidents have had to file financial disclosure forms, but they’re difficult to find online. Here is one for Bill Clinton from 1995. Even then, it’s difficult to determine whether Clinton was a millionaire. His assets include a blind trust worth between $500,000 and $1,000,000; several small accounts and stock holdings; and a legal defense fund which probably shouldn’t be counted. Caveats: Hillary’s assets (undoubtedly much larger) don’t appear to have been included on his form, and by this time he had already been President for three years.

With all the disclaimers, I’m going to assert Jimmy Carter as the answer to this question. (Partly because I feel that Hillary’s assets should be included with Bill’s.) This site assigns Carter a net worth of about $600,000 at the time of his election, which sounds about right. It hardly needs to be emphasized that the same assets would be worth much more than $1 million today.

I think Clinton is the correct OP.

Having said that, (not singling anyone on this thread out) I think that the general perception of the adult CLinton’s previous poverty AND their current wealth is a bit overblown. People seem to think they were on Welfare and became the Trumps post-office but it is not true.

In 1998 (before they left Office) the Clinton’s were worth more than $1 million but less than $5 million – most in a blind trust of securities held in Hillary Clinton’s name. Bill also has a blind trust estimated to be worth $100,001 to $250,000. So, when they left office they listed assets of about $1.5 million and owed lawyers about $5.5 million.
In 2003 Hillary, with the release of her memoir, reported a net worth ranging from $352,000 to $3.8 million
While that may seem modest for a woman who snared an $8 million book deal, the former first lady also reported substantial liabilities, ranging from $1.7 million to $6.5 million. Most of these were for legal fees, an apparent result of the numerous investigations into the Clinton’s during her husband’s presidential administration.

In 2005 Hillary reported Bill made almost 7 million dollars from speaking and book tours. My WAG is that the Clintons now (2006) are still not worth double digit millions

Because it is hard to cross decades How much is X$$ are worth in this time, FWIW:

Technically when he was first elected Nixon was not a millionaire. Nixon was worth about 700K in 1968.

Which is about 3-5 million today - but he was not technically a millionaire

Nixon was worth, almost exactly, 1 million dollars in 1972 when he was re-elected.

As I remember, his salary as governor of Arkansas was only $35,000 a year, which was low even twenty years ago. (I found a couple of webpages that say that the current salary for Arkansas governor is about $70,000.)

No, he didn’t. Clinton’s stepfather, with whom he grew up from the age of four, owned automobile dealerships in Hope and then Hot Springs and rented a very nice house in Hot Springs from Clinton’s uncle.

I’d challenge that description. The Clintons had a black maid when Bill was a boy. How many dirt poor people do you know have a maid?

Bill’s mother was also a nurse. When Bill was four, she married Roger Clinton (Sr.), who was the co-owner of an auto dealership.

I don’t follow your logic. 190 acres in 1950? (And presumably mortgaged at that.) How would that make him a millionaire?

I’d be surprised if he paid more than $50-100/acre for the land. If that much.


None of your post proves that Clinton’s family had a substantial net worth.
A big rented house doesn’t count as equity.
Car dealerships, especially smaller ones, may or may not be large assets. Some dealers finance some or all of their inventory and rent their lot.

I didn’t say they had a substantial net worth. I said that they weren’t “dirt poor”, and I stand by that.

I wasn’t thinking just of the land, but of the rather well-appointed farmhouse and outbuildings. But you’re probably right; land and houses were so cheap in 1950 that the package was still worth well under a million. I can’t find anything online that gives the purchase price.

Even at that, it ain’t like he was dirt poor. Definitely middle class, if not upper middle class, I’d guess.

I grew up solidly in the middle class, and my parents just worked professional jobs for a living. They certainly didn’t own anything.

For all we know, his stepdad rented the house for $1 a year or some other similarly silly rental fee within the family.

The point wasn’t whether his family was rich, it was that Clinton was not “dirt-poor”.

Nixon, BTW, was pretty close to “dirt poor” growing up. He received a fulkl scholarsgip to Harvard, but was unable to take because he couldn’t afford living expenses. According to David Halberstam, his family’s store was constantly on the verge of bankruptcy and he frequently went to bed hungry.

Millionaire ain’t so much today. If you add up the Equity on the Condo and my various 401k plans, you might get to a Million $$. But I have less than $10000 in the bank. :frowning: (Which, I suppose is better than being $50K in debt, sure)

Wasn’t President Ford a descendant of Henry Ford, and a heir to part of the Ford Motor Company fortune?