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Famous Presidents and CEOs Have Declared Bankruptcy

Posted by David Falvey on Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 - 519 views

Abraham Lincoln was one of our greatest famous presidents—winning the Civil War to keep the Union together and emancipating the slaves. But—he was a terrible businessman and declared bankruptcy.

Lincoln tried many occupations as a young man, including buying a general store in New Salem, Illinois, in 1832.

But his sales were dismal and the store failed

His debts mounted, and when his partner died, Honest Abe became owed a grand—a lot of money back then—in back payments. Without modern bankruptcy laws as protection, he lost his two remaining assets: a horse and surveying gear. He continued paying off the remainder of his debts for the next ten years.

Lincoln’s Civil War general, Ulysses S. Grant, also a president, went bankrupt after leaving office when bad financial management of an investment-banking venture ruined the business.

William McKinley went bankrupt while serving as Ohio’s governor in 1893; in debt to the tune of over a hundred-grand. Lucky for him–his wealthy friends eventually bailed him out.

Mickey Mouse and Hershey Bars, without bankruptcy protection they wouldn’t exist

Walt Disney, the creator of Mickey Mouse and so many other beloved characters, would not have created them without getting a second chance after declaring bankruptcy.

In 1922 he started his first film company that quickly went bankrupt. He signed a deal with a New York company to distribute the films he was producing. Unfortunately the company went under when the distributor swindled him.

Disney then went to Hollywood, obtained new investors, and began creating new cartoon characters, including his most famous, Mickey Mouse.

And where would we be without Hershey chocolate bars? Milton Hershey, the creator, could make a mean candy bar–but running a successful business was another thing at first.

Hershey’s first candy shop failed, as did his second. But when he returned home to Pennsylvania he pioneered the use of fresh milk in caramel productions and became a wild success, ultimately creating the Hershey bar.