Presidential Salaries Through the Years

Only Five Pay Raises Since George Washington Was in the White House

The president of the United States is now paid $400,000 a year.

Unlike members of Congress, the presidential does not get an automatic pay raise or cost-of-living adjustment every year.

The president's salary is set by Congress, and lawmakers have seen fit to raise the pay for the most powerful position in the world precisely five times since George Washington became the nation's first president in 1789.

Related Story: 10 Highest Paid Governors in the United States

That's right: There have been only five pay raises for the president in more than two centuries.

And presidents can't give themselves pay raises. The U.S. Constitution states that 

"The President shall, at stated times receive for his services, a compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected ..."

The most recent salary hike was effective in 2001, when President George W. Bush became the first commander-in-chief to make the $400,000 salary - double the amount his predecessor, President Bill Clinton, was paid a year.

Here's a look at presidential salaries through the years, a list of which president were paid how much, starting with the current rate of pay.

01
of 06
$400,000

George W. Bush
President George W. Bush delivers the 2007 State of the Union address. Pool / Getty Images News

President George W. Bush, who took office in January of 2001, became the first president to earn the current pay rate of $400,000. 

The president's $400,000 salary took effect in 2001 and remains the current pay rate for president.

Receiving the $400,000 salary were:

  • George W. Bush
  • Barack Obama

02
of 06
$200,000

Richard Nixon Portrait
President Richard Nixon. undefined

President Richard Nixon, who took office in January of 1969, was the first president to be paid $200,000 a year for his service in the White House.

The salary of $200,000 for president went into effect in 1969 and continued through 2000.

Earning $200,000 a year were:

  • Richard Nixon
  • Gerald Ford
  • Jimmy Carter
  • Ronald Reagan
  • George H.W. Bush
  • Bill Clinton 

03
of 06
$100,000

National Archives - Truman Library

President Harry Truman began his second term in 1949 by getting a 33 percent pay raise. He was the first president to earn six figures, going from the $75,000 that presidents had been paid since 1909 to $100,000.

The salary of $100,000 went into effect in 1949 and continued through 1969.

Earning $100,000 a year were:

  • Harry Truman
  • Dwight Eisenhower
  • John F. Kennedy
  • Lyndon Johnson

 

04
of 06
$75,000

Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, pictured here in 1924, is the only president to have served more than two terms in office. Picture courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.

American presidents were paid $75,000 beginning in 1909 with the term of William Howard Taft and continuing through Truman's first term.

Earning $75,000 were:

  • William Howard Taft
  • Woodrow Wilson
  • Warren Harding
  • Calvin Coolidge
  • Herbert Hoover
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Harry S. Truman

05
of 06
$50,000

Theodore Roosevelt
Hulton Archive

American presidents were paid $50,000 beginning in 1873 with the second term of Ulysses S. Grant and continuing through Theodore Roosevelt.

Earning $50,000 were:

  • Ulysses S. Grant 
  • Rutherford B. Hayes
  • James Garfield
  • Chester Arthur
  • Grover Cleveland
  • Benjamin Harrison
  • Grover Cleveland
  • William McKinley
  • Theodore Roosevelt

06
of 06
$25,000

James Buchanan
Portrait of James Buchanan, who served as the nation's 15th president from 1857-1861. National Archives/Getty Images News

The first American presidents earned $25,000.

They were:

  • George Washington
  • John Adams
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • James Madison
  • James Monroe
  • John Quincy Adams
  • Andrew Jackson
  • Martin Van Buren
  • William Henry Harrison
  • John Tyler
  • James K. Polk
  • Zachary Taylor
  • Millard Fillmore
  • Franklin Pierce
  • James Buchanan
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Andrew Johnson
  • Ulysses S. Grant

What Presidents Really Make

It should be noted here that the salaries above include only the official payment for the job of president. Most president, in fact, earned far more than that when outside sources of income were factored in.