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.
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.
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.