Before he was President: Harry Truman

Harry S. Truman, 1945-1953 Haberdasher (seller of clothing and tailoring), farmer
A good piano player, Truman considered a career in music but went into politics instead. In 1921 Truman’s salary was probably close to nothing. He was living in debt and trying to keep his failing business open.

One point many historians made about this time was that Truman and his partner agreed to continue paying on the debt they incurred even though they were forced out of business.

He and his partner committed to pay back all the money, but his partner gave up in 3 years and declared bankruptcy. Truman continued to pay down the debt on his own, however. He continued paying down the debt, even while the Great Depression was occurring, until 1934 when a political supporter bought his debt allowed him to pay it off for $1,000.00.

In 1922 he was elected Missouri’s Jackson County judge and was paid $3,465.00 per year. (Truman, David McCullough, p160) The average salary at that time was $1,236.00. Prior to the election he had listed his total worth at $230.00 (Harry S. Truman: A Life, Ferrell, p102)

In 1925 Truman lost his reelection bid and took a job selling AAA automobile club memberships for $15.00 each for one year until he was elected back into a judge’s position. (Harry S. Truman: A Life, Ferrell, p104)

In 1926 he was elected as the presiding judge and was paid $6,000.00 per year. During that time the average household income was about $1,300.00 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Truman, David McCullough, p173)


Dwight David Eisenhower, 1953-1961
Unable to continue playing football due to a knee injury in college Dwight Eisenhower served as both a coach and a cheerleader for the school's team. Eisenhower's family could not afford to send him to college. Even though he never planned on being a career soldier, he applied to West Point because he was told military colleges were free.


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!
 

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

 
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