Politics. Everyone’s favourite dinner-party conversation starter! From adultery and questionable policies to secret gun deals and the loss of nuclear codes, scandal and controversy have always followed America’s leaders. But our team were wondering what with all the controversy over the years, how smart can these politicians really be? We took a step back from the current media circus surrounding the White House to ponder the IQs of American politicians. You’d think that to lead one of the most powerful nations in the world would require a genius of Einstein’s calibre. But heck, if Arnold Schwarzenegger (yes, that’s right, THE Austrian Oak) can run and win an election on the West Coast (we love you Governator!), then it seems maybe you or I should start polishing up the old résumé.
But before you pull out your favourite pair of golfing trousers, or board Air Force One, remember; this is not a job for the average Joe. This then brings us to a comprehensive list of the IQs of the most powerful individuals of the free world. The celebrated, the disenchanted, the entertaining, the foolish, the scandalous, and the downright dastardly Presidents of the United States of America. To refresh your memories, a person’s IQ or Intellectual Quotient is a spectrum which measures an individual’s intellect, testing, in short, their capacity to learn. With the average American hovering between 85 and 115 according to Verywell Mind, and the average president IQ sitting at 140, these great people are still leaps and bounds ahead of the median intellect. Let’s take a look.
1. Ulysses S. Grant (No. 18) - IQ 130
Now, before we’re so quick to judge, remember that the average IQ lies between 85 and 115, so possessing an IQ of 130 is not too low. A shoddily covered-up Whiskey Ring incident saw his crack team of officials attempt to keep tax revenue to themselves and bribe officials, which makes us think maybe he wasn’t the best judge of character, despite his above average IQ.
But this guy was also the 18th President of the United States of America, and a commander of the Union army during the American Civil War! We’ll let you decide if the theoretically least intelligent of the bunch truly belongs here.
2. James Monroe (No. 5) - IQ 138.6
One of the Founding Fathers, Monroe presided over a period of America’s history which saw an emphasis on domestic issues. Despite his “low” IQ on our list, political scientist Fred Greenstein argued Monroe was a more effective President than some of his predecessors, such as John Adams.
During his presidency, Monroe resolved a lot of tension, supporting the Missouri Compromise and banding together the nation. In 1820, Monroe secured a nigh landslide victory over New-Yorker Rufus King, with a vote of 183:34. Clearly a house favourite! Wait, a President who actually activated for change for the good of the people? Definitely beats any IQ ranking. We salute you!
3. Warren G. Harding (No. 29) - IQ 139.9
As we segue from the 130s to the 140s, we finish on a household name. Warren Harding died one of the most popular presidents in history, after a fatal heart attack cut his time short. Posthumously, scandals such as ‘The Teapot Dome’ however, damaged his glowing reputation. The scandal gave private oil companies lucrative rights to extract oil and gas from federal land in Wyoming, organised by Harding’s interior secretary Albert Fall. Money was funnelled through the White House and yep, you can guess who enjoyed the spoils. For this, he is now considered one of the most unintelligent men to have held power.
During his time in office, Harding watched over a White House riddled with drama and controversy, though, none of it was ever traced back to him. Harding believed in an America where the economy was king, and the rich became richer. Whilst he boosted the economy and reduced public debt, his legacy was not solid enough to weather the Teapot Dome Scandal as well as the other goings-on in the Oval office. Thank u, next.
4. George W. Bush (No. 43) - IQ 138.5
It seems that the “dumbest President ever” label has been stolen by Mr Trump, so while he isn’t the best thing to happen to the U.S, he certainly is a blessing in disguise for Mr Bush. Over the years, Bush earned a reputation for being one of the worst Presidents ever, what with his lack lustre public speaking skills. Though, he was quite the wordsmith, inventing words and fabricating sayings which, when one stopped to ponder, didn’t make any sense at all.
During high school, he may not have had outstanding grades, but he was wonderful at socializing, including a stint as head cheerleader. Maybe you don’t want to think about George W Bush with pom-poms, but we’re sure you’ve already got a mental image. Cannot. Be. Unseen. Remember folks, we’re only just getting started here; so things can only get better, right? Right??
5. Andrew Johnson (No. 17) - IQ 138.9
After a baptism by fire entrance into the public eye, Johnson, former vice president under Abraham Lincoln, moved into the White House. While Johnson supported the Union, he was not so supportive of giving freed slaves the right to vote, nor any Reconstruction efforts for that matter. He was the first President to be impeached after his permission to implement “black codes”, which essentially oppressed newly freed slaves. He purposely vetoed legislation which was designed to protect these people.
For someone with an IQ which is still relatively high, his thinking was still extremely backward and racist. Whilst the House made Johnson sweat a little following a long trial, they were unsuccessful in removing him from office. His time in office lasted from 1865-1869, which spelt disillusionment and dissatisfaction for the people. Fortunately, following his term in office, the American people had the sense to elect smarter men to create a better future for all.
6. Zachary Taylor (No. 12) - IQ 139.8
Cherries are a wonderful source of Vitamin C, but sometimes there is such a phenomenon as having too much of a good thing. Taylor’s term in office was cut to 16 months, after gorging himself on the little red fruits during 4th of July celebrations in 1850.
Whilst his gluttony was the reason for his end, he held the sobriquet of “old rough and ready” for his heroism in the Mexican-American War. Seems that neither his intellect, nor his war acts could save him from the seemingly innocent red fruit.
7. James Buchanan (No. 15) - IQ 139.6
A proslavery politician who thought the Dred Scott decision would solve all the nation’s issues, comes in James Buchanan with an IQ of 139.6. His IQ did not aid him during his term, as he lacked the foresight and understanding necessary to close the rift over slavery. His support of Dred Scott delighted the Southerners, yet infuriated the Northerners, leading to a snowball effect whereby he alienated members of his own party.
Things spiralled downward, and we’re thinking that if a more insightful President had been elected, the nation may not have imploded. The 15th President is known for essentially ushering in the Civil War, before handing over the nation in crisis to Lincoln. Buchanan was just as unlucky in love as he was in politics, remaining the only lifelong bachelor to serve as President. Perhaps his intellect wasn’t the only thing he was lacking in.
8. Andrew Jackson (No. 7) - IQ 145
Smack bang in the middle of our list is Andrew Jackson, with an IQ of 145. His belief in the “common man” to “arrive at the right decision” was equal to his love for duelling, taking part in over 100 duels. As the old adage goes “if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger”, and this certainly rings true for Jackson, who even suffered an injury of a shot to the chest.
Jackson also spent his IQ points on teaching his pet parrot Polly to swear; he invested so much of his time in this exercise that the bird had to be removed from Jackson’s own funeral for its potty mouth. We’re thinking twice about asking Polly if she wants a cracker.
9. William Howard Taft (No. 27) - IQ 139.5
With an IQ in the high 130s, we introduce the 27th President of the United States, William Howard Taft. Not only was this man the President, he was also the 10th Chief Justice, and remains the only individual to have held both offices. Upon reflection, the White House acknowledged he was a poor politician, spending an uncomfortable four-year term in the famed White House. It seems that this great man was not only great of mind, but great of size; he had a custom-made bathtub which could accommodate four average-sized people.
But even with such a brain, it seemed that Taft just wasn’t cut out for Presidential duties, documented as writing “I don’t remember that I ever was President.” Looks like the average American wasn’t the only one dissatisfied with their job!
10. Gerald Ford (No. 38) - IQ 140.4
The 38th President of the United States, with a 140.4 IQ, is Mr. Gerald Ford. Following Nixon’s resignation after the disgrace of Watergate, Ford became the first unelected president in U.S history. Whilst his presidency is looked at with disinterest, Ford is credited with restoring the confidence of the people in the government following the Watergate era.
Aside from his commendable IQ, Ford was one of the most accomplished athletes to sit inside the Oval Office. Years of football and skiing kept him lithe and energetic, and coupled with his IQ, brings new light to the old adage of “all brawn and no brains.” Ford leads us now to question; Porque no los dos?
11. Calvin Coolidge (No. 30) - IQ 141.6
Despite his slick surname, C.C. was largely quiet and unremarkable. The 30th President of the United States, Coolidge succeeded Harding in 1924. Whilst his IQ of 141.6 is bang in the middle as far as the average goes for Presidents, he did make an impact on the U.S. He was a champion of the middle class and was the “repairman” after the disastrous Harding, restoring public confidence in the government.
Coolidge delivered as per his surname, coolly sweeping in, tidying the mess, and exiting with considerable popularity. In private, Coolidge was a man of few words, whereby the nickname “Silent Cal” was borne. A story was circulated that a matron who sat beside him at a dinner commented “I made a bet today that I could get more than two words out of you.” His reply? “You lose.” *mic drop*.
12. Harry S. Truman (No. 33) - IQ 139.8
Known for his bellicose, Truman held office for two major world wars; World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. Thrown into the deep-end rather unceremoniously, Truman had mere weeks as Vice President before taking the top job following Roosevelt’s demise. He told reporters that he felt “like the moon, the star and all the planets had fallen on me,” – quite the burden for a man with a “humble” IQ of 139.8.
In his time, he was faced with solving pressing problems concerning the development of the A-bomb and increasing difficulties with the Soviets. He made some of the most crucial decisions in American history, ordering the A-bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The deafening silence in Japanese surrender shocked the world. Chilling that a man who falls in the lower 25 percent of Presidential IQs was behind one of history’s most defining moments.
13. Lyndon B. Johnson (No. 36) - IQ 140.6
JFK’s successor had some extremely large shoes to fill. Whilst he may not have filled them, he certainly made a controversial mark (or stain; you decide) on U.S Presidential history. His decision to increase the U.S’ military presence in Vietnam was one of America’s less dazzling political moments. He probably should’ve consulted with Woodrow Wilson before that one. C’est la vie.
On a lighter note, a man of reasonable intellect, with an IQ of 140.6, was also human. He had needs, and even an important interview wouldn’t stop him from emptying his bowels. Brazenly unapologetic, LBJ is known for his ‘bathroom interviews’, frequently inviting reporters to join him in the bathroom mid-interview, simultaneously putting his manhood on display. Affectionately calling his privates “Jumbo”, and urinating in the parking lot of the House Office building, we’re not so sure that we are “all the way with LBJ!”
14. Herbert Hoover (No. 31) - IQ 141.6
Is it a bird? A plane? A vacuum cleaner? Close, but no cigar. Whilst he has no association with the Dyson, Hoover was known for other accomplishments. His Presidency took place during the devastating stock-market crash of 1929, which was difficult to manage even with an IQ of 141.6. Hoover became a hated individual by the end of the era, with millions of Americans losing homes and jobs. Today economists debate how much Hoover could’ve done to alleviate the fiscal pressures, though his changes were hardly ground-breaking.
The U.S desperately needed a leader who would guide them out of the Depression, however they were left with a dud. Despite the time-bomb which was the economy before Hoover’s time, Hoover was responsible for withholding aid to suffering Americans, all in the name of capitalism. With an entire scene in the musical “Annie” in his (dis)honour, the end of his term saw Americans singing “The sun will come out, tomorrow.”
15. Ronald Reagan (No. 40) - IQ 141.9
You either love him, or you hate him, our list comes to Ronald Reagan, the 40th U.S President. Serving two terms, Reagan was an actor before he became President. Now that we think of it, perhaps acting and being a politician are extremely similar professions. With an IQ of 141.9, Reagan is about average in the presidential line up. With his famous slogan “peace through strength,” the White House looks on Reagan as fulfilling his pledge of 1980 to restore the “confident roar of American progress and growth.”
However, he was not without his flaws. The Iran Contraband Affair of the 1980s was a smear on his nameplate. The U.S held an arms embargo on Iran, however secretly sold missiles to Iran, in exchange for the freedom of American hostages. Reagan denied any sort of deal, though later admitted in his 1987 address that he indeed sold arms for hostages. While he joked to his wife after an assassination attempt in 1981, “Honey, I forgot to duck,” Reagan didn’t realise that he also forgot the wellbeing of innocent civilians by selling weapons to a terrorist group. Welp.
16. George H.W. Bush (No. 41) - IQ 143
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; how then does George H.W. Bush explain his son’s Presidency? Whilst the American public look back on the first Bush as perhaps not the sharpest tool in the shed, he was certainly closer to the average as far as Presidents go. With an IQ of 143, Bush’s take on managing the U.S was directed towards making a “kinder and gentler nation.”
However, being kind and gentle are not terms commonly associated with holding office for one of the most powerful, influential nations in the world. Bush held his own throughout a series of tests, in the form of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and disturbance in Cuba, however his approach was not enough to save him from being removed from the Oval Office. Bye, bye, Miss American Pie.
17. William McKinley (No. 25) - IQ 143.4
The 25th President of the United States, McKinley enters our list with a respectable IQ of 143.4. Known for supporting the gold standard, McKinley’s election breathed new life into the American economy, with industry growing rapidly and the Depression of the 1890s ending.
The third American president to be assassinated, McKinley’s death was the final strike, with the Congress passing legislation to charge the Secret Service with the responsibility of protecting the President. Smart by our standards, but not swift enough (nor well-protected enough) to dodge Leon Czolgosz’s bullets.
18. James K. Polk (No. 11) - IQ 143.4
Tied with McKinley we see James K. Polk, one of the more effective Presidents of the pre-Civil-War time. Born in a log cabin, Polk was known as the ‘dark horse’ candidate. As President, Polk made real change, with developments in banking, territorial disputes as well as fiscal policy.
He maintained peace with the U.K, emerged victorious in the Mexican-American War and expanded U.S borders. His campaign promise to be a one-term president was kept, passing away just as he left the White House. It is said that the stress of the presidency left him in poor health. Looks like a high IQ doesn’t necessarily mean a high tolerance to stress. RIP Polk, we wouldn’t be here today without you.
19. Grover Cleveland (No. 22) - IQ 144
An interesting guy to say the least, we present Grover Cleveland. With an IQ of 144, he just falls short of our upper half of Presidential IQs. So interesting he was elected twice, Cleveland was not without controversy. Maybe there’s a correlation with intellect and getting into trouble? Let’s find out more.
Here’s a question; would you marry your daughter? No? Ah well, you do not stand with Mr.Cleveland. He seemed to have no problem with saying “I do” to his adopted 21-year-old daughter, whom he had known since she was a mere 11 years old. Consequently, she became the youngest first lady in history. Not quite spooked yet? Well, Cleveland, in his younger years, served as Sheriff of Erie County, New York. Before his Presidential stint, Cleveland opted to personally hang a criminal. “High” IQ; who wants in? Let’s move on… shall we?
20. Richard Nixon (No. 37) - IQ 142.9
We arrive at Richard Nixon; easily one of the most controversial Presidents to sit inside the Oval Office. Whilst his IQ is not to be scoffed at, we see once more that intelligence does not necessarily mean a job well done in the White House. Among his antics are an attempt to assassinate a journalist by exposing him to copious amounts of LSD, as well as the infamous Watergate scandal, Nixon is certainly not one of the most intelligent figures to hold public office.
Following a break-in to the Watergate complex in Washington, it was found that the burglars were indeed linked to Nixon. Attempting to spy and sabotage on Nixon’s opponents, 69 government officials were charged, including many from Nixon’s most trusted people. Threatened with impeachment, perhaps the smartest decision Nixon made was to resign in 1974. Yet another embarrassing end to a politician with a “high” IQ. Seems there’s a trend emerging here.
21. Dwight Eisenhower (No. 34) - IQ 145.1
Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower served as America’s 34th president. A five-star general and Supreme Commander of Armed Forces in Europe, Eisenhower is remembered as one of the most popular presidents in U.S History. With an IQ of 145.1, his list of achievements is extensive. We have a lot to thank him for; interstate highways, the creation of NASA, and swearing in five justices to the Supreme Court. They say that those with great intellect are also great creatives, and Eisenhower proves this theory; he took up painting seriously and created at least 250 artworks.
In 1967 a reporter questioned the inspiration behind his works, to which he replied, “they would’ve burned this sh*t a long time ago if I weren’t the President.” Hey, we didn’t say great intellect = great artwork. Aside from art, Eisenhower was a keen golfer. However, he faced a fair few, small, problems; the White House grounds’ resident squirrels. The critters repeatedly dug up the putting green for their acorns and walnuts, much to his frustration. He sounded the death knell for the mischievous fur balls, however the Secret Service quietly ordered the groundskeepers to trap and release the squirrels elsewhere. No need to get your golfing whites all mussed up Ike!
22. Benjamin Harrison (No. 23) - IQ 145.4
Technically smarter than Grover Cleveland by one IQ point comes Benjamin Harrison at 145.4. The 23rd President, he was nicknamed “Little Ben” due to his short stature. However, Harrison held his own, helping to shape U.S foreign policy. Despite an above-average IQ, he was just like you or I. In terms of stature? No, but in terms of strange phobias, yes! For Mr. Harrison, it was electricity which made him...well…a little jumpy.
The period in which he served gave way to developments in electrical conduction. He himself introduced electric lighting into the White House, however, he refused to flick on the lights due to a fear of being zapped! What a time to be alive eh?
23. George Washington (No. 1) - IQ 140
Ringing in the 140s is George Washington, the very first President of the United States. One of the Founding Fathers, Washington left behind an outstanding legacy for America and the free world. His military accomplishments aside, as well as his skill in dancing up a storm, Washington also operated one of the largest distilleries in America at the time.
After his term as President, Washington was not contented with pottering around his mansion at Mount Vernon, so he decided to try his hand in liquor. At its peak, the business produced 11, 000 gallons of un-aged whiskey. Sorry doc, did you say alcohol kills all your brain cells?
24. Martin Van Buren (No. 8) - IQ 146
The 8th President of the United States, Van Buren is best known for being a founder of the Democratic Party. With an IQ of 146, his policies could have been extraordinary. However, they weren’t; his lack of popularity led to his failure of securing a second term in office.
Nicknamed “Martin Van Ruin”, he was succeeded by William Henry Harrison…and we’ll soon find out that didn’t end well either. The early Presidents may have had intellect well above that of the commonfolk, yet they were largely uninspiring during their terms in office.
25. Rutherford B. Hayes (No. 19) - IQ 146.3
Better known for his election than his term in office, is Rutherford B. Hayes, with an IQ of 146.3. 1876 saw Hayes emerging as a Civil War hero, nominated by the Republicans; another ‘dark horse’ candidate. With votes seemingly in favour of Democrat Samuel Tilden, he came up short in the electoral votes. However, due to a technicality, Hayes became President, highlighting a flaw in the Constitution. Whilst his term was largely uneventful, Hayes is still respected as a war hero who stood against slavery, and reformed government policy.
Today, he is scarcely remembered in the U.S, however in Paraguay, he is a national hero. His sideline negotiation of a border dispute between Argentina and Paraguay saw 60 per cent of their land being returned. There is even a football team named after Hayes! Whilst his impact may not have been felt in the U.S, the Paraguayans owe him a great debt. You do you, boo.
26. William Henry Harrison (No. 9) - IQ 146.3
Elected at the ripe old age of 67 (in the 1700s that was pretty old!), he was not only the oldest man to sit in the Oval Office, but also the first U.S President to die in office. He lasted exactly 31 days before passing of pneumonia. When one reflects on his accomplishments, it was exactly that; being the first to die as President.
Ironically, the man with the shortest term in office delivered the longest inaugural address; a one hour and 45-minute epic, on a freezing cold morning in March of 1841. The cold he caught developed into a fatal case of pneumonia. Even with a high IQ, that couldn’t save him from catching a cold. Rain, rain go away…
27. Franklin Pierce (No. 14) - IQ 147.4
Slightly above average in IQ, this was Pierce’s only saving grace in the political line up. Penned as a politician of “limited ability” (Miller Center 2018), Pierce somehow wound up behind one of the most pivotal pieces of legislation in U.S history. His encouragement of the Kansas-Nebraska Act directly lit the path to the Civil War. His lukewarm stance on, well, everything led him further into disrepute, with his indecision creating chaos between the Southerners and the Northerners.
Despite an above average IQ, his weak political stance was exactly what the U.S did NOT need at such a crucial point in its history. Pierce by name, it was seemingly written in the stars that he would also pierce the heart of the nation he served.
28. James A. Garfield (No. 20) - IQ 152.3
Tied as the 10th smartest President, Garfield was another forcibly removed from office (hint: this was before the Secret Service were around). Sadly, Garfield did not leave much of a legacy, as he didn’t quite get the chance to implement many policies! Smart with his IQ of 152.3, sure, though not given enough time to truly show how capable he was of managing the nation.
It seems that he is best known for being in office for a total of 6 months and 15 days. I mean, not everyone can say they had the chance to be the U.S President, right?
29. John Tyler (No. 10) - IQ 148
An IQ of 148 is certainly noteworthy, and for the 10th President of the United States, not bad indeed. He took up the position of President after the extremely short term of Harrison, which lasted only a month before his untimely death. Tyler was known as “His Accidency”; owing to the fact that no successor had been selected when Harrison passed. Tyler, ever the opportunist, found a judge to swear him in as President. Very cheeky Mr. Tyler!
His annexation of Texas, and adjoining of Florida to the Union movement, among other moves, raised the curtain on the unrest, which was to flourish (or descend) into the Civil War. Aren’t we getting a little tired of these “intelligent” men starting wars for no reason?
30. John Adams (No. 2) - IQ 155
John Adams was many things, and one of the only men of his time to not be a slaveholder! Thoughtfully remembered as a remarkable political philosopher, Adams served as the second President of the United States. One of the Founding Fathers, his hand in drafting the Constitution as well as in ending the Revolutionary War were turning points in U.S history.
Whilst he had an extremely high IQ of 155, it was his son, John Quincy Adams who would go on to have the greater mind of the two. He passed away at an astonishingly old age, at 90 years of age. In those days, that was unheard of! Perhaps there’s a link to smarts and long life?
31. Millard Fillmore (No. 13) - IQ 149
We thought it was ABBA who made it cool to kiss the teacher, but not so! Fillmore, with an IQ of 149, was as much a slave to his carnal urges as any other young teenage man. Just two years her junior, Millard was so enchanted by Abigail Powers (no, that is not a made-up name!), that he asked her hand in marriage, which she accepted. However, it seems that his head was in the clouds rather than with the interests of the nation, with his term plunging the nation into the Civil War.
At the end of the day, it seems a lot of these “intelligent” men with high IQs have the same Achilles heel as any average man. Fillmore was, and still is remembered as widely unpopular, consistently ranked as one of America’s worst presidents.
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt (No. 32) - IQ 150.5
Serving an astonishing 4 terms, “FDR” is one of the United States’ most celebrated former Presidents. Leading Americans through the Great Depression and World War II, his ‘New Deal’ reforms greatly changed the perception of the government in the public eye. With a high IQ of 150.5, Roosevelt is one of our ‘unicorn’ Presidents; living up to his intellect with policies to match. His social programs and World War II leadership cemented America’s leadership on a global level.
There’s a reason he was re-elected 4 times! However, once again, the siren’s call of his wife’s social secretary, Lucy Mercer, was too strong for him to resist partaking in an extra-marital affair. We all have needs..right?
33. Abraham Lincoln (No. 16) - IQ 150
With an IQ of 150, Abraham Lincoln was as intelligent as he was famous. In a period of time where education was hard earned, and with a humble background, Lincoln’s personal struggle and accession to public office are extremely impressive. He most famously issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, which freed many slaves.
His great IQ served him well, with a quote from his Second Inaugural Address engraved on the Lincoln Memorial in D.C.: “with malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in…”, truly highlighting his foresight and free-thinking ability. He was certainly a trailblazer, and sadly had barely served a term, murdered by a disillusioned anarchist. He is remembered for his rousing addresses and is immortalised on the 5-dollar bill.
34. Chester Arthur (No. 21) - IQ 152.3
Yippee-Ki-Yay… Oh, you mean Chester Arthur is known for more than the reference in Die Hard? Sorry, we digressed for a moment there. With an IQ of 152.3, Arthur holds his own among the smartest Presidents. An American attorney and politician, Arthur held office following Garfield’s assassination.
With a lack-lustre term in office, Chester Arthur may have held one of the higher IQs, however it seems that he is more regarded in his death than he was during his time as President. Can’t win them all can you?
35. Theodore Roosevelt (No. 26) - IQ 153
Following the assassination of William McKinley, the 42-year-old Roosevelt became the youngest President in the nation’s history. His strong policies and enthusiasm made him a force to be reckoned with; not just in the Oval Office, but in the ring too. Float like a butterfly, sting like a -President? The second-most popular Roosevelt was the smarter of the two with an IQ of 153, yet also liked to knock around those brain cells of his.
At Harvard University he dabbled in boxing and continued this activity during his time at the White House. Maybe there’s a correlation between a high IQ and keeping fit? Don’t switch off your alarm tomorrow morning folks, get to the gym!
36. Woodrow Wilson (No. 28) - IQ 155.2
Leading the U.S through the greatest war the world had ever seen, Wilson served from 1913 to 1921. An advocate for world peace, Wilson is ranked as one of America’s greatest Presidents. His hand in negotiating the Treaty of Versailles as well as his “Fourteen Points” peace settlement have their place in the history books.
Wilson’s League of Nations was a forerunner to the United Nations; an institution which has grown to be a body on ensuring the wellbeing of all. His great intellect served him well; whilst he was not a great orator, his thinking was forward, and utilitarian in approach. “The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.” Trump clearly isn’t listening. Might be worth taking a leaf out of his book, eh Donald?
37. Jimmy Carter Jr. (No. 39) - IQ 156.8
A Nobel Peace Prize winner and an advocate to change, James Earl Carter, Jr., secures his place in our top 10, as one of the smartest U.S Presidents. Jimmy was often underestimated however, with an IQ of 156.8, we beg to differ. His aspirations to make the government both competent and compassionate were commendable, yet somewhat unattainable in a time. He championed human rights, and even brought amity between Egypt and Israel through the Camp David agreement of 1978.
If that isn’t noteworthy, we don’t know what is! His humanitarian impact has been extensive, yet even the extremely intelligent can be a little...er…eccentric. His claim to have seen UFOs following a 1976 conference in Georgia makes us think maybe Fox Mulder of the X-Files was right in saying “I want to believe.” If a man of 156.8 is saying they’re real, then we want to believe, too.
38. James Madison (No. 4) - IQ 160
Tied with his great friend comes James Madison with a whopping IQ of 160. Another of the Founding Fathers, Madison is credited as the Father of the Constitution. With a resume as impressive as his IQ, Madison advised President Washington as well as held the position of secretary of state under Jefferson. However, Madison is not so easily defined by his role supporting others, due to his great contribution to the creation of the United States. He assisted in framing the Bill of Rights, as well as having a hand in the writing of the Constitution.
Unlike his successors in more recent years, Madison was humble enough to state that the document was not simply “the off-spring of a single brain,” but “the work of many heads and many hands.” It seems that once Presidential IQs exceed 150, they are more deserving of the political honour bestowed upon them.
39. Bill Clinton (No. 42) - IQ 159
It seems that even the greatest of men, with the greatest of IQs have a common undoing: women. Bill Clinton’s image of being a “good ol’ boy,” was shattered by one of the White House’s biggest scandals ever. His IQ of 159 couldn’t save him from the hellfire of the media and the American public. When 22-year-old Monica Lewinsky sauntered into the office as an intern, Clinton had no idea she would later spell disaster for him. Their secret affair was denied vehemently, with Clinton’s famous line “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” an attempt to cover his tracks. Not so; their denial became grounds for charges of perjury! Clinton however, served his term following impeachment, yet the damage had been done.
Seems that despite his smarts, he wasn’t smart enough to not commit perjury, nor adultery. Not to mention a lesser known fact that he lost the nuclear launch codes for a few months. Oh dear.
40. John F. Kennedy (No. 35) - IQ 159.8
There aren’t many names with the same presence as John F. Kennedy. One of the most intelligent Presidents to ever hold office, JFK left behind a legacy which far outweighs his sky-high IQ. But while he made one of history’s greatest speeches in Berlin in 1963, he also was rumored to be quite the ladies’ man. JFK didn’t only keep his mind busy; among his dozen or so mistresses there floats the rumor of a dalliance with Marilyn Monroe. Jackie O was stunning, but perhaps Gentleman Prefer Blondes? The youngest elected President in office, his life was sadly cut terribly short.
It still remains that JFK is remembered for his brilliant sayings and philosophies. America merely glimpsed his greatness, and unfortunately did not get to see what this great man was totally capable of. Among his rousing speeches and clever remarks, JFK once joked “the pay is good, and I can walk to work.” Hadn’t really considered a career in politics, but when you put it that way...is anybody else suddenly thinking of getting on the campaign trail?
41. Thomas Jefferson (No. 3) - IQ 160
In tied second place is Thomas Jefferson, the Founding Father who is responsible for the penning of the Declaration of Independence. One of the highest-ranked presidents in U.S history, we have finally found a President who lived up to his IQ. A lesser known fact is during a visit to France as Foreign Minister, where he first sampled French cuisine, his fondness of the fare required his 19-year-old chef James Hemings to learn the art of French cooking.
During his time as President, Jefferson hosted fanciful dinner parties with French dishes prepared by his chef, popularizing ice-cream and waffles! We’ll take a few helpings of waffles a la mode to go, thank you. It seems that just because you have an IQ far greater than the average person doesn’t mean you can’t have a wicked sweet tooth. Perhaps he was a distant relative of Marie Antoinette?
42. John Quincy Adams (No. 6) - IQ 175
Holding the top spot is John Quincy Adams. The smartest President in U.S. history, Adams comes in with an astonishingly high IQ. Particularly in the 19th century, this meant that Adams was smarter than 99.999943% of those around at the time. But as we’ve discovered on this winding journey of scandal, controversy and plain stupidity, it is not the smarts which maketh the man! Despite an IQ which places him in the top 1%, as well as his forward thinking approaches to slavery and free speech, Adams was not as effective as he ought to have been. Nate Silver’s study of US President IQs of FiveThirtyEight concluded there was a correlation between presidential IQ and success as president. In layman’s terms, the smarter the president, the better off the country.
Not so for Adams. Fluent in seven languages, Adams’ talent for languages did not serve him quite as well in the Oval Office. A deep look into the presidential archives reports that Adams loathed party politics, failing to participate just as politics was gaining momentum as well as making tangible change within society. It seems that Adams prioritized skinny-dipping daily to the needs of the nation after a diary entry in 1818 revealed he made a ritual of swimming in the Potomac River completely naked. If that’s what he owes to maintaining his level of genius, we know what we’re doing tomorrow morning.
43. Barack Obama (No. 44) - IQ ???
One of our most recent Presidents, with an IQ that remains unknown (slightly problematic seeing as these people are running the country), comes Barack Obama. An American attorney and politician serving for an 8-year term, as well as the first African American to be elected to the presidency, does it really matter what his IQ is? It is clear that he is indeed a switched-on individual, with or without his IQ results.
A constitutional scholar and author of two bestsellers (prior to his campaigning for presidency), Obama was a breath of fresh air amongst his fellow Presidents. A true “American” story with his heartland roots and middle-class upbringing, a test taken well before his university days saw his IQ at 102. However, this was quickly dismissed. Perhaps now that he’s outside looking in to the White House, we’ll soon have our answer!
44. Donald Trump (No. 45) - ???
We reach the man you’ve all been so curious about! Sorry to be anti-climactic folks, but unfortunately, we don’t know! (Read: sarcasm ahead). Labeled by The Guardian as “our child-king”, America’s current President Donald Trump seems to be all talk, and no action. Boasting an IQ that is “very high”, the President assures his fellow Americans that he has more than what it takes to run the nation, however, has failed to produce any scrap of evidence supporting this claim. Late 2016 saw a viral meme reporting his IQ was sitting at 156. Simonton’s findings state that it is highly unlikely that he holds that sort of IQ, challenging Trump to produce his real results. Just this year at a Pennsylvania Rally, Trump assigned Californian representative Maxine Waters the nickname “very low IQ, low, low IQ.”
Maybe those with exceptionally high IQs believe they are also above having manners? We’re sure he wouldn’t say that to Putin. Whilst he isn’t the most popular fellow the country has seen, no one can deny his business acumen and decisive vision for the future. Whilst we wait with bated breath for the all-important results, maybe within that time he and his toupee will “Make America Great Again.”
45. Joe Biden (No. 46) - IQ ???
Though we're unsure of his exact IQ number, Joe Biden, who was constantly challenged about his running age (77), wasn't going to let haters triumph him. When confronted about his age, he challenged an Iowa voter to a pushup match, a running competition, and an IQ test. His offers, unsurprisingly, were greeted with audience applause.
Biden studied at the University of Delaware before earning his law degree from Syracuse University. He became the sixth-youngest senator in American history when he was elected to the Senate from Delaware in 1972, at age 29. From one of the youngest to one of the oldest, Biden continues to make American history.