In case there was any question, after the release of his tax returns, it's clear that Mitt Romney is rich, even by 1 percent standards.
But it's one thing to be rich compared with the general public. Some of our readers wondered just how Romney's wealth stacks up against his would-be peers: the presidents. Turns out, were he to be elected, Romney would be among the top four richest people to become president.
In 2010, the website 24/7 Wall Street did an analysis of all 44 presidents' assets and adjusted their peak wealth to 2010 dollars. The article points out that the comparisons over time can be a little sticky. "The fortunes of American presidents are tied to the economy in the eras in which they lived. For the first 75 years after Washington’s election, presidents generally made money on land, crops, and commodity speculation," it says. "A president who owned hundreds or thousands of acres could lose most or all of his property after a few years of poor crop yields."
Interestingly, many U.S. presidents were worth less than a million (the lowest designation on the scale). For a good chunk of the 19th century, Americans elected presidents from poor backgrounds with little to their name, like Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and James A. Garfield.
George Washington, the first president, also turns out to be the wealthiest, clocking in with more than half a billion in net worth. At his peak, Thomas Jefferson wasn't far behind with $212 million. Then there was John F. Kennedy, who shared a trust worth more than $1 billion with his siblings. Teddy Roosevelt and Andrew Jackson were the only other presidents to break the $100 million mark.
Most sources estimate Romney's net worth at around $200 million or so. However, at his peak he was reportedly worth as much as $500 million. Either way, he'd be on the podium for wealthiest presidents.
So if Romney were elected, he would rank among the richest presidents in American history. As a wealthy presidential candidate, however, he's got more company—most recently, Steve Forbes, Ross Perot, and John Kerry all had as much, if not more.
Of course, that didn't mean any of them got to be president.