Have you ever wondered just how smart you need to be the president? Well, scholar Catherine Cox and Dean Keith Simonton calculated presidents’ IQ scores and revealed them to the public. Let’s see. By the way, an average person’s IQ is between 85 and 115.
1. John Quincy Adams - 175
With an IQ score of 175, the sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams, is the smartest president of all time. They say that he was smarter than 99.999943 percent of all people who were on Earth back then. With that intelligence, he was meant to do something great. Even love could not stop him. It was reported that he gave up his one true love, a local woman at Harvard University, for his political career.
2. Thomas Jefferson - 160
It is not surprising that Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers, had such an impressive intelligence. Moreover, he might also be the most multi-talented president ever. He was a planter, a lawyer, a surveyor and a mathematician. He also had an in-depth knowledge of architecture and understood several languages.
3. James Madison - 160
James Madison studied political philosophy at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), which drove him to fight for civil rights and political liberty. Now he is remembered as the "Father of the Constitution" for his outstanding contributions.
4. John F. Kennedy - 159.8
Many historians rank JFK as one of the most accomplished presidents of the United States, and he is sure worthy of that reputation. But it was also reported that he had numerous affairs with women during his marriage, including Marilyn Monroe, Gunilla von Post, Judith Campbell, Mary Pinchot Meyer, Marlene Dietrich, Mimi Alford, and his wife's press secretary, Pamela Turnure. You need to be smart enough to deal with so many women, LOL.
5. Bill Clinton - 159
Back in high school, Bill Clinton was given an opportunity to meet JFK. The meeting inspired him to pursue a political career. After graduating from Yale Law School, he became a teacher at the University of Arkansas. Later he was elected Arkansas' governor, and worked his way to the nation’s top office.
6. Jimmy Carter - 156.8
Jimmy Carter’s family was once wealthy, running a peanut-growing business, but the business failed, forcing the whole family to move into public housing. When Carter grew up, he studied agriculture and accounting with his wife Rosalynn, and together they managed to save the business. After that, Carter decided to pursue a political career and was elected the governor of Georgia in 1971, before becoming president in 1977.
7. Woodrow Wilson - 155.2
Woodrow Wilson may be one of the smartest presidents ever, but he was once an underachieving law school dropout. After passing the Georgia bar exam, he tried to start a law firm, but later abandoned it because he thought it was boring. Fate finally led him back to school to learn political science, and history proved that he was born to be a politician.
8. John Adams - 155
John Adams had a massive IQ even by today’s standards. No wonder he became a founding father of the United States. Sadly Adams died of typhoid on October 28, 1818, but we will remember his legacy forever.
9. Theodore Roosevelt - 153
President Roosevelt was the youngest and one of the best men to ever hold the job. He put his intelligence into full use and brought clean food and medicine to the American people. For his outstanding contributions, Roosevelt received many honors, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906.
10. James A. Garfield - 152.3
Garfield only served for six months in office, but he had made enough contributions to be remembered. Garfield had humble beginnings. He used to be a boat worker and a carpenter, but with intelligence and perseverance, he worked all the way up to be the political executive of the United States.
11. Chester Arthur - 152.3
Like many other presidents, Arthur was a successful lawyer before embarking on a political career. He made some reforms during his presidency, but failed to be elected for a second term. You may remember his name from the popular movie Die Hard with a Vengeance.
12. Franklin D. Roosevelt - 150.5
Roosevelt’s success may have something to do with his intelligence. He was one of the most influential presidents and the only one to serve three full terms. His personal life, though, was not so glamorous. He had several extra-marital affairs which broke his wife Eleanor’s heart. Eleanor reportedly established a separate home in Hyde Park at Val-Kill and never forgave her husband.
13. Abraham Lincoln - 150
Abraham Lincoln was a legend, but he came from humble beginnings. He once ran for Illinois General Assembly but failed. Instead, he worked as a postmaster and a country surveyor. However, Lincoln never beat himself up. He taught himself law and became a successful practicing attorney. With that intelligence and determination, it is no wonder that he was able to make history.
14. Millard Fillmore - 149
Millard Fillmore’s intelligence helped him rise from the son of sharecroppers to the highest political office in the United States. When he was a kid, his family was so poor that he couldn’t even afford to go to school. But he studied on his own, and became a respected lawyer in Buffalo, New York. Besides being the president, he was also a co-founder of what is now the State University of New York at Buffalo.
15. John Tyler - 148
Again, John Tyler was a lawyer before pursuing a political career. He must have been an excellent lawyer considering it was his clients who helped him enter the world of politics. With an IQ of 148, Tyler is certainly smart, but he didn’t receive much praise from historians.
16. Franklin Pierce - 147.4
Franklin Pierce rose to the highest office with the help of a military family background, but historians often rank him as one of the worst presidents. Drinking too much destroyed his health and no family members were at his side in his final years.
17. William Henry Harrison - 146.3
Harrison served the shortest term in history - just 30 days, 12 hours and 30 minutes after taking office. Unlike many other presidents who were lawyers, Harrison pursued a military career. Success on the battlefields helped him launch a political career, and he was elected the first governor of Indiana, before becoming president in 1841.
18. Rutherford B. Hayes - 146.3
Rutherford B. Hayes’s IQ of 146.3 may not seem stunning among all the presidents, but it was reported that back in the day, that only an estimated 2,500 or so people were smarter than him. We wonder what those other 2,500 people were doing!
19. Martin Van Buren - 146
Martin Van Buren was the first president who was born after the United States’ independence and the only president to learn English as a second language. He managed to overcome the ethnic gap to claim the highest office, but lost his bid for a second term.
20. Benjamin Harrison - 145.4
You may be surprised to know that the 23rd president of the United States used to run a successful practice and was a prominent church leader before being elected. He did get some praise during his presidency but ended his term eventually with a low approval rating.