If you’re feeling burdened by debt and you think that you’re alone, think again. Some of history’s most well known people; celebrities, politicians and other world leaders have found themselves facing financial hardships. Even several Presidents have found themselves in serious financial trouble. Below I’ll list several U.S. Presidents who have filed bankruptcy either before or after they left office.
Thomas Jefferson was a brilliant lawyer, a gifted writer and a wealthy landowner but Jefferson wasn’t the best at managing his finances. His main occupation was that of a farmer. Due to this he suffered the ups and downs that often go with the unpredictable nature of agriculture. He also used his considerable wealth to lend out money and the payments made against those loans were often unreliable. He also inherited debt from his father-in-law and from a friend who did not pay off a debt that Jefferson had co-signed. Jefferson also had problems with his spending. Jefferson’s love of luxury led to expensive spending habits as well and he died with more than $100,000 in debt (roughly 2-3 million dollars in today). However, unlike today, he didn’t have the option to file bankruptcy except during a brief window from 1800 to 1803, which he did utilize. Thomas Jefferson died broke and unable to pass along any assets to his heirs and was even unable to free his slaves at his death as they were considered property and were auctioned to settle his debts but Jefferson wasn’t the last of the Presidents who have filed bankruptcy.
Abraham Lincoln, one of our greatest presidents, found himself in the soup financially after the failure of a business venture. Lincoln even found himself having to assume more than half of the debt from this failed venture when his partner in the business died shortly after the business shut its doors. Lincoln, out of a sense of duty, assumed the debt and struggled for some time with it. Lincoln lost all of his assets and he spent several years trying to pay off the debts. Despite all this hardship, Lincoln was undaunted and didn’t allow the stigma of bankruptcy to follow him for years on end. Just a mere 8 years later, Lincoln was elected to Congress and in 1860 became President of the United States. Lincoln had trouble with his finances for the rest of his life largely due to his wife’s extravagant spending habits which she carried over even after his death in 1865. Lincoln was one of the first Presidents who have filed bankruptcy
Ulysses S. Grant
Grant was a Civil War hero who many credit with saving the Union, right along with Abraham Lincoln. As good as Grant was on the battlefield, he was an awful businessman. Grant, with his judgement often clouded by his alcoholism, made a series of bad investments. Grant invested heavily in Grant & Ward, a Wall-Street investment company set up by his son and his son’s friend Ferdinand Ward. Ward stole and embezzled the funds Grant invested, eventually going to jail for it. This didn’t change the fact that the President was still on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt after Grant & Ward failed and he went bankrupt. Ulysses Grant worked nearly until his dying day writing his memoirs and only way he was able to repay any of his creditors was through selling his Civil War memoirs which were published posthumously.
William McKinley was a lawyer like Thomas Jefferson and like Jefferson, McKinley cosigned on a debt for a friend. When this friend decided to bankrupt on the debt, McKinley was forced to take over the debt as a co-signer. All of this occurred shortly after his election as Governor and he was forced to declare bankruptcy while serving as the Governor of Ohio. Bankruptcy wasn’t all bad for McKinley. Less than three years later, he was elected President of the United States.
Donald J. Trump
Donald Trump is a businessman who inherited the business his sons now manage called the Trump Organization in the 1970s when his father retired from the business. While Trump did see a great deal of success as a real estate investor, perhaps his biggest failure was as the owner of several Atlantic City Casinos during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Trump’s casino, the Trump Taj Mahal, found itself 3 billion dollars in debt with Trump personally guaranteeing nearly 1 billion dollars worth of the debt personally. Trump was forced to sell off several pieces of personal property including a yacht and an investment in an airline to satisfy the debts and even then he was forced to make payments on the debt for several years after due to debts that weren’t discharged in the bankruptcy. While Donald Trump is the most recent of the Presidents who have filed bankruptcy, I’m sure he won’t be the last.
Even great people find themselves overwhelmed by debt. Whether that’s due to failed businesses, a job loss, medical emergencies or illness, or just bad luck. Bankruptcy is a resource that can help you get back on your feet and give you a fresh start if you, like these Presidents, find yourself in over your head. Call us today to learn what your options are!