This is part three of a five part series on the wealthiest presidents (Part 1; Part 2). Somewhat unsurprisingly, this list includes what many scholars agree are the best presidents in United States history, with J.F.K. being regarded as the worst of the group. All of these men accumulated their wealth in different manners; while some amassed a good portion of their wealth through inheritance, others were self-made men. The important common theme between all of these great men, though, was their enterprising nature. This carried over into all aspects of their lives and is undoubtedly part of what made them all such great leaders of this country. For any finance readers, this is also a fairly impressive referendum on the power of the time-value of money.
Spoiler Alert – There was a lot of money in cash crops…
3. John F. Kennedy – $125 Million in 2010 USD
Much like Teddy Roosevelt, JFK came from a supremely wealthy family. His family was believed to have been worth well over one billion dollars at the time of his assassination. Kennedy’s father was an incredibly impressive man in his own right – he made a fortune trading on the stock market and investing in commodities. Joe Kennedy also became the inaugural SEC Commissioner (Securities & Exchange Commission, not the SouthEastern Conference for you football junkies ). JFK’s wife was independently wealthy as well – she was the heiress of an oil fortune. Is there any way they did not sleep on a bed of money? Even if only for one night? Someone please dig this up.
As for himself, JFK made quick work of his time in the military, becoming a Lieutenant in the Navy and commanding a patrol torpedo boat in four short years, all after initially being disqualified for service with chronic back problems. After his service career was over, Kennedy made a meteoric rise through the political ranks. He served as a Congressman for six years, and then in the Senate for eight more years before being elected President in 1960. He never accumulated much wealth in his service, but then again, he did not need to. Much like Teddy Roosevelt, JFK grew up in a life of privilege and was able to enter into the realm of public service without having to worry about making ends meet – he could focus on politics and the philosophy of how to lead this country from a young age.
JFK’s actual worth was never truly determined because he never reached the point of inheritance. However, many scholars agree that he himself had the equivalent of about $125 million. His late widow, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, went on to marry Greek shipper Aristotle Onassis. Daughter to an oil baron, husband to a US President and also a Greek trade tycoon, Jackie knew how to work it. In her first year as the first lady, she spent $146,000+ on fashion… JFK’s entire salary as president at the time was $100,000. She herself died with an estate worth upwards of $70 million.