Developer in Chief

There are many things that can be said about Donald Trump’s apparent presidential bid, but one cannot say that his background in real estate makes it unprecedented. We have had presidents who were engineers, storekeepers, actors, soldiers, and community organizers, and yes, at least one developer. Quite a distinguished one. Although the idealized image of George Washington is of a farmer and soldier, he was also a major land developer. Trained as a surveyor, early in his career he took part in a land company that controlled half a million acres west of the Alleghenies. When he was about 40, he undertook a speculative land project of his own in the Ohio River country, and when he died, he still owned more than 35,000 acres there. He acquired tracts of land in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York, as well as chunks of the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia. With other local landowners he founded and led the Potomac Navigation Company, with the goal of raising real estate values.  And during his lifetime Washington increased the size of his farms at Mount Vernon from 2,126 acres to more than 8,000.



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