Before he was President: John Kennedy

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1961-1963 ranch hand
The first paying job John Kennedy had was in 1936 when we spent the summer working as a paid ranch hand. He worked 6 days a week and was paid $1.00 per day. The majority of the work he performed was building ranch offices with mud! John F. Kennedy's father gave him $1,000,000 when he turned twenty-one. (Each of his nine brothers and sisters got a million dollars too!) Source

Lyndon Baines Johnson, 1963-1969 schoolteacher
Johnson and his wife, Claudia "Lady Bird" Alta Taylor, were married with a $2.50 wedding ring bought at Sears Roebuck.

The television show American Experience: LBJ gave this example of how hard a Johnson worked on an election:

In the spring of 1937, Johnson was 28 years old, campaigning as an ardent Roosevelt New Dealer, reaching out to the working men and poor dirt farmers of the Texas hill country. He ran for office as if his life depended on it. He spoke in every town in his district, lost 40 pounds in 42 days, made 200 speeches and collapsed with appendicitis just two days before the election.

From his hospital bed, with his wife Lady Bird, he learned that he'd been elected one of the youngest members of Congress. His political ideals would waver, but for the rest of his life, he would display the same nervous intensity, the same obsessive drive to succeed and a talent for attaching himself to power.

Richard Milhouse Nixon, 1969-1974 lawyer, writer
While in the Navy in the 1940's, Richard Nixon noticed that his friends were winning money in poker games. Always the opportunist, Nixon had the best poker player in his unit teach him how to play the game. Within only a few months, Nixon had won around $6,000 in poker games, which he used to fund his first congressional campaign. Source

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

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