Who Was The Poorest US President?

To quote Wu-Tang Clan, "Cash rules everything around me." That sentiment definitely holds true in U.S. politics, where most words are untrue and money talks louder than free speech. Citing findings by Quartz, Newsweek reported in 2018 that "Congress members earn 12 times the average family income in the United States," with the median income for a Senator sitting at a staggering $3.2 million and the median income for Representatives sitting at $900,000. According to ThoughtCo, nearly every modern president was already a millionaire by the time they entered the Oval Office. And a 2014 analysis of 1,779 policy issues found that "economic elites" and businesses influence U.S. government policy far more than average Joes.

In a time when it seems like money governs everything in the U.S. you might wonder who was the poorest leader in the nation's history. In derogatory terms, the poorest president was obviously [insert president you dislike the most]. As far as finances go, a 2019 list compiled by USA Today names Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Calvin "Silent Cal" Coolidge as some of the least wealthy commanders-in-chief. At the top of the list (or bottom, depending on your perspective) is Harry S. Truman.

President Truman grew up poor

You may remember Truman for becoming the first and hopefully last world leader ever to authorize a nuclear strike when he ordered the United States to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But contemporaries also knew him for being exceedingly unwealthy. Even Truman's eyesight was poor, forcing him to wear thick glasses as a child, according to History. His poor vision prevented him from attending the West Point military academy, and his poor father, a Missouri livestock trader, couldn't afford to send him to college. Truman briefly enrolled in a business college, per the Miller Center, but economic hardship forced him to drop out.

Even becoming president didn't make Harry Truman rich

The bad times kept rolling after Truman's fathered died in 1914. The future president tried to run a mining company and became a partner in an oil business, but those ventures eventually fell flat. After fighting in WWI, Truman tried his luck at co-owning a haberdashery (a men's clothing and accessory store), but an economic downturn crippled his business. Business Insider reports that this was the biggest blow to Truman's bank account. He had invested $30,000 in the haberdashery and now his hopes and cash were dashed. Unfortunately, Truman refused to declare bankruptcy, instead attempting to pay off the debt, much to his detriment. By the end of his presidency, Truman was so broke that the law was altered to double a president's salary, and he received that increased fee after leaving office.