The History Behind Donald Trump’s Refusing a Presidential Salary

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tags: election 2016, Trump, Presidential Salary, emoluments



When President-elect Donald Trump told 60 Minutes earlier this week that he was “not going to take” the salary provided to the President of the United States by the government—reiterating a statement he made toward the beginning of his campaign—the move might have seemed to come with strong precedent for a chief executive who does not want for cash. After all, in the very first ever Inaugural Address, delivered by George Washington in 1789, Washington said pretty much the same thing. When he had served as Commander-in-Chief of the revolutionary Continental Army, he had believed that he was honor-bound to refuse compensation, and he felt the same way about serving as President.

“I must decline as inapplicable to myself, any share in the personal emoluments, which may be indispensably included in a permanent provision for the Executive Department;” he said, “and must accordingly pray that the pecuniary estimates for the Station in which I am placed, may, during my continuance in it, be limited to such actual expenditures as the public good may be thought to require.”

Washington, however, didn’t end up having much of a say in the matter.




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