Politics can be a challenging and expensive career path. The cost of running for office, maintaining a public image, and supporting a political agenda can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, for some politicians, these financial pressures can lead to bankruptcy. In this list, we will highlight 12 US politicians who have filed for bankruptcy.
1. Abraham Lincoln
It’s possible that Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, is the most well-known politician in history to have ever filed for bankruptcy. After William Berry, Lincoln’s business partner, passed away suddenly in 1833, Lincoln was left with a significant amount of outstanding debt. As a result of Lincoln’s inability to repay the debt, he submitted a petition for bankruptcy in the year 1834.
2. William McKinley
In 1893, William McKinley, who would later serve as the 25th President of the United States, submitted a petition for bankruptcy. When the stock market collapsed, McKinley lost a significant amount of money due to the amount of money he had invested in the stock market. Because he was unable to pay the debt that he had accumulated, he decided to file for bankruptcy in order to protect himself from his creditors.
3. Thomas Jefferson
Throughout his life, Thomas Jefferson, who served as the third President of the United States, had trouble paying off his debt. Jefferson was a voracious collector of books, artwork, and other objects; as a result, his collections frequently exceeded his ability to support them financially. Jefferson persisted in pursuing his political career despite the challenges he faced financially, and as a result, he had an enduring impact on the history of the United States.
4. Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president of the United States, filed for bankruptcy in 1884. Grant had invested heavily in a banking firm that went bankrupt, leaving him with significant debt. Despite his financial difficulties, Grant remained a popular political figure and continued to be a strong advocate for civil rights.
5. William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman, a Union general during the American Civil War, filed for bankruptcy in 1850. Sherman had invested heavily in a San Francisco-based bank that failed, leaving him with significant debt. Sherman eventually overcame his financial difficulties and went on to become a prominent military leader and politician.
6. Horace Greeley
Horace Greeley was a newspaper editor, politician, and founder of the Liberal Republican Party. Greeley ran for president in 1872 but was unsuccessful. Following his failed campaign, Greeley’s newspaper went bankrupt, and he was left with significant debt. Greeley passed away shortly after his financial difficulties, leaving behind a legacy as an influential journalist and political figure.
7. Henry Clay
Henry Clay was a lawyer, politician, and prominent member of the Whig Party. Clay ran for president three times but was never successful. In 1828, Clay invested heavily in land and suffered significant financial losses. As a result, he was forced to sell his property and file for bankruptcy. Despite his financial difficulties, Clay remained a prominent political figure and continued to serve in government positions throughout his career.
8. Sam Houston
Sam Houston was a lawyer, politician, and soldier who served as the first and third president of the Republic of Texas. Houston filed for bankruptcy in 1862 after suffering significant financial losses due to failed land speculation. Despite his financial difficulties, Houston continued to serve in political positions and was a strong advocate for Texas’s annexation to the United States.
9. Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine was a political philosopher, writer, and revolutionary who played a significant role in the American Revolution. Paine filed for bankruptcy in 1802 after suffering significant financial losses due to a failed iron bridge project. Despite his financial difficulties, Paine continued to write and publish political works that influenced American and European politics.
10. David Crockett
David Crockett was a frontiersman, politician, and folk hero who served in the US House of Representatives from Tennessee. Crockett filed for bankruptcy in 1830 after experiencing significant financial losses from a land speculation venture. Despite his financial troubles, Crockett continued to serve in public office and became an icon of American folklore and legend.
11. Harry F. Sinclair
Harry F. Sinclair was a businessman and Republican Party supporter who was involved in the Teapot Dome scandal during the presidency of Warren G. Harding. Sinclair filed for bankruptcy in 1930 after the collapse of his oil company, Sinclair Consolidated Oil Corporation. Sinclair’s involvement in the Teapot Dome scandal tarnished his reputation, and his financial difficulties further damaged his legacy.
12. William Langer
William Langer was a Republican Party politician who served as the governor of North Dakota and as a US Senator. Langer filed for bankruptcy in 1931 after being accused of accepting bribes during his time as governor. Despite the scandal, Langer continued to serve in public office and remained a popular figure in North Dakota politics until his death.
Did any of these surprise you?
Bankruptcy is a difficult experience for anyone, including politicians. The politicians on this list faced financial difficulties for various reasons, including failed investments, debt, and scandal. Despite their challenges, many of these individuals continued to serve in public office and leave a lasting impact on American history.