In an often perceived act of humility, America’s iconic statesman George Washington turned down a salary to lead the U.S. Continental Army during the War of Independence, claiming he needed no financial incentive for the role. Washington, in fact, profited very well from the position. Why was this?

Answer: Washington stated all he would require was the reimbursement of expenses. In eight years, by taking expenses rather than a salary, Washington accrued nearly $350,000 more than if he had taken a salary, including spending $6000 on alcohol in one six month period alone. When he became President, Washington sought the same arrangement, but he was turned down and offered a salary of $25,000 a year.

Source: George Washington’s Expense Account by Marvin Kitman.

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