Before he was President: George Washington

George Washington, 1789-1797 surveyor
George Washington's first paying job was actually for local government. When he was 17 years old he was hired as the surveyor of the newly formed Culpeper County. This job dramatically increased his knowledge of how to spot valuable tracts of land. He leveraged that knowledge into his own business of buying property. At the age of 19 he was fast becoming a wealthy land owner. The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon By Carla Killough McClafferty

President-elect Washington was the wealthiest man in America at the time of his election as President, but he had to borrow 600 pounds (dollars) from a neighbor in order to travel to his own inauguration. His enormous wealth was attributed the vast property that he owned which produced almost no cash flow. He left Mount Vernon on April 16, 1789 to make his way to the nation's capital in New York City.

John Adams, 1797-1801 schoolteacher and lawyer
Adams' great, great grandfather and grandmother were part of the party that landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. Adams started smoking when he was only 8 years old. He graduated from Harvard College in 1755 and for the next two years taught school and studied law under the direction of James Putnam in Worcester, Massachusetts. In trade for serving as an apprentice of sorts to 28 year old Attorney Putnam John. Adams agreed to pay Putnam $100.00 per month plus a fee for his room and board. During the move to the White House, John and Abigail Adams got lost in the woods north of the city. Source Source

Thomas Jefferson, 1801-1809 architect
In March of 1786 Jefferson was struggling to pay his personal debts and the debts he inherited when his father in law died. Jefferson's primary concern was his good credit standing as he tried to negotiate his debt with the creditors. He cited two reasons for his delay in payments: the inflation that the war had caused in America made his paper money virtually worthless and the army of well known bad guy Lord Cornwallis had stolen 30 of his slaves and burnt 1 year's worth of tobacco held in storage and another year's worth that was still growing. His creditors ignored his issues and demanded payment in full in gold or sterling silver. Thomas Jefferson's misery over money was just beginning. Thomas Jefferson: A Life By Willard Sterne Randall

More stories: Duncan Hines   George Washington   Thomas Jefferson   Benjamin Franklin   James Garfield   Harry Truman   Henry Ford

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