The presidential office function is one of the most demanding in the world. Presidents are people who make very important decisions for their country, and as such must possess certain skills that set them apart from ordinary people.
To become an American president, you have to be an above-average intelligent person.
According to IQ research, two-thirds of people have an IQ of 85 to 115 points, and only 5% of people have an IQ higher than 125.
We bring you a list of 33 most intelligent American presidents in history, ranked by IQ score!
33. George W. Bush - 124
George Bush is often perceived through the mainstream media as a goofy guy who isn’t exactly the smartest. But his IQ says otherwise! George Bush is one of the most famous politicians in all of American history. After becoming the forty-third president of the United States, he was remembered for a series of controversial decisions, but he still remained a part of the great history of the USA. It is also important to note the fact that George Bush was at the head of the state during one of the most difficult periods this country was struggling with. After leaving politics, George W. Bush published a book of his memoirs, which quickly became a bestseller in the United States and some other countries.
32. Gerald Ford - IQ 127
Gerald Ford, the thirty-eighth president, had only a slightly better result than George Bush. Crime growth and the economic crisis have increased tensions in society. Despite this, President Ford has managed to restore American trust in the presidential role. Following the Watergate affair, Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974. Ford was sworn in the same day and became the first president in history to take over the office without democratic elections.
31. Herbert Hoover - IQ 129.77
Herbert Clark Hoover was an American mining engineer, humanitarian activist, and politician, best known for being the 31st President of the United States, at a time of great economic crisis, also known as the Great Depression. An interesting fact about Hoover is that, although he supported and promoted Prohibition, he often drank alcohol at the Belgian Embassy.
30. Ronald Reagan - IQ 130
Ronald Reagan is one of the greatest icons of American political history. Between 1981 and 1989, he served as the 40th President of the United States. Before that, he worked as a sports journalist, was a Hollywood movie star, and governor of California. At the age of 69, Reagan was the oldest elected president of the United States. With the election of Donald Trump, and potentially Joe Biden, that record was broken.
29. George H.W. Bush - IQ 130.1
George H.W. Bush, or George Bush senior, was the 41st president of the United States, who ended the Cold War and liberated Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. After the Iraqi defeat, his popularity rose sharply, so Bush’s military intervention against Panamanian President Manuel Noriega did not raise too many questions in the American public. He was an above-average intelligent president who was often portrayed as a not very intelligent person, just as in the case of his son.
28. William McKinley - IQ 130.2
William McKinley was the 25th American president. The highest peak in North America, Mount McKinley in Alaska, is named after him. He was elected U.S. president for two terms, but the second lasted a very short time since President McKinley was shot. He was a lawyer by profession, but he also had a strong interest in business and finance in general.
27. James K. Polk - IQ 130.2
James K. Polk was an excellent orator and a very intelligent president, who completed his studies with the highest honors in May 1818. He was the 11th President-elect of the United States. Before his presidential career, he was intensely engaged in debate clubs and law. In one case, he even represented his father who got himself involved in a fight, and managed to free him! But the father had to pay compensation for the damages. At the time, the compensation was - one dollar!
26. Grove Cleveland - IQ 130.9
Stephen Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th (1893-1897) president of the United States and the only president who did not serve two terms consecutively. When he was elected sheriff of Erie County, his duty included the personal hanging of criminals. President Cleveland explained that he never wanted to delegate such a duty to his deputies. He graduated in law, which he practiced in New York at the beginning of his professional career.
25. Richard Nixon - IQ 131
Richard Nixon was the only American president forced to resign. Nixon was fluent in Latin, which helped him get a scholarship to Harvard, but as he came from a poor family who could not afford a trip to the other side of the United States, he decided to study law at another university. He was also a great poker player, thanks to which he earned enough money to fund his own campaign. Although he made a lot of good political moves throughout his career that would rank him among the best presidents ever, the Watergate affair is still the most significant moment of his political activity.
24. Dwight D. Eisenhower - 131.9
Dwight D. Eisenhower is one of the presidents with the most impressive military career! He was a fierce opponent of communism, but he preferred using diplomacy to solve issues with the countries under the communist regime. He graduated from the prestigious West Point Academy, after which he began his military career.
23. Benjamin Harrison - IQ 132.2
Benjamin Harrison was a lawyer, brigadier general, senator, and 23rd president of the United States. His CV makes it clear that he was a super-intelligent person, with a lot of different interests and abilities. His grandfather, William Henry Harrison, was also a general and president of the United States. But unlike his grandfather, who served as president for only a month, Benjamin Harrison served his term to the end.
22. George Washington - IQ 132.5
Of all the presidents on the list, the first American president, George Washington, had the least formal education! But even that didn’t stop Washington from becoming the only president in U.S. history to be unanimously elected by Congress. Washington is one of the most important politicians in the history of the United States, but also of the world. His political career laid the foundations of modern democracy, the influence of which is found in all modern political systems.
21. Martin Van Buren - IQ 133.4
Van Buren is the first elected president who was born as an American citizen! It is also interesting to mention that English was not his native language, as he was born into a family of Dutch emigrants. Like most presidents on this list, Van Buren was a lawyer. Maybe his political career was not as successful as of other first 10 presidents, but nonetheless, Van Buren will be remembered as one of the first ones in U.S. history.
20. Rutherford B. Hayes - IQ 133.9
Rutherford Birchard Hayes had one of the most difficult jobs of all presidents - uniting a divided country after the Civil War. He was a lawyer who during his presidency made a revolutionary decision that allowed women to practice law before the Supreme Court. He was a fierce opponent of alcohol, and almost never consumed it, which may have affected his high IQ.
19. William Henry Harrison - IQ 133.9
William Henry Harrison was the 9th President of the United States. He wanted to become a doctor, but the death of his father and the lack of money for further education directed his career in the military direction. He gave the longest inaugural speech in history, which ultimately cost him his life. On the day of the speech, the weather was rainy and cold, and Harrison got pneumonia, from which he died shortly afterward. His term lasted only 31 days, setting Harrison a record for the shortest presidency in history.
18. Franklin Pierce - IQ 134.8
Franklin Pierce is not remembered as a good president. Some of his decisions were a step backward in the development of democracy, and the most prominent ones were related to slavery and the expansion of US territories to the countries of Central and South America. After the presidency, Franklin Pierce turned to alcohol. His liver failed, and President Pierce died of liver cirrhosis.
17. Millard Fillmore - IQ 136
Fillmore was the 13th President of the United States. He was a lawyer but did not achieve a more notable law career. Although he had no formal university education, he was a functionary at the University of Buffalo for a long time.
16. John Tyler - IQ 136.2
John Tyler was the 10th president of the United States. During the first departure of the US Navy steamer USS Princeton, one of the cannons exploded. 6 people were killed and 20 were injured. Tyler survived the accident, but some of his important associates were unfortunately killed.
15. Franklin D. Roosevelt - IQ 139.6
Franklin Delano Roosevelt is one of the most important and best American presidents ever. He served four terms and was elected consecutively for each. He is most creditable for the fall of nazi Germany in the Second World War, due to the abolishment of American isolationism policy. Thanks to his presidency, the United States became the main military, economic, political, and cultural power in the world. Unlike most other presidents, Roosevelt was a historian.
14. Abraham Lincoln - IQ 140
The American Civil War, which lasted from 1861 to 1865, redefined the United States. Lincoln already had a lawyer’s license before the war and was a member of Congress, so his rapid rise was expected. Lincoln influenced the American Civil War outcome and slavery, which makes him one of the most important American presidents in history. Without Lincoln, the USA probably would not exist in the form in which it exists today.
13. James Madison - IQ 141.3
James Madison is a true great of American history. He is the father of the American Constitution, which is one of the most important legal, historical, and political documents. He created the foundations of modern democracy that are recognized by all modern societies. The constitutional amendments, “Bill of Rights”, authored by Madison, are today considered a document that belongs to the very top of ideas important for the development of political and civil rights.
12. Chester Arthur - IQ 141.5
Chester Alan Arthur was a lawyer and the 21st American president. He is often called the father of bureaucracy in the United States, because of his decisions regarding the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. He is also remembered for a decision that banned Chinese citizens from immigrating to the United States for 20 years.
11. James Garfield - IQ 141.5
James A. Garfield is remembered as one of the most intelligent presidents in history. He was ambidextrous, which allowed him to write with both hands at the same time. This is even more impressive as he wrote Latin with his left hand and Greek with his right at the same time. But his term lasted only about 6 months. After an assassination attempt and unprofessional treatment, President Garfield died, making his term the second shortest in the history of American presidents.
10. Theodore Roosevelt - IQ 142.3
Theodore Roosevelt was homeschooled until he joined Harvard University in 1880. During his studies, he was one of the best students, but also an excellent boxer. He influenced international politics, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He is considered one of the most intelligent presidents in history, and an icon of American politics.
9. John Adams - IQ 142.5
John Adams was the second President of the United States, which put him in the group of founding fathers. Thanks to his progressive political ideas, John Adams is one of the most respected politicians in history. He was very well educated, which helped him in the battle for American independence. Adams wrote many important political and legal documents that are still used today.
8. Barack Obama - IQ 145
Barack Obama was one of the most intelligent presidents. During his schooling at Harvard, he achieved excellent results that ranked him among the best law students. It is important to note that Barack Obama is the first African-American president in history. With his election, the tradition of “white” presidents was broken. He is also the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, but some of his moves are still under criticism today.
7. Jimmy Carter - IQ 145.1
Just like Obama, Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize. Throughout his career, Jimmy Carter has been most concerned with human and civil rights. His critics today say he should have focused more on the economy, which experienced a downturn and stagnation during the Carter period. For this reason, it is often heard that Carter was one of the worst American presidents in history.
6. Woodrow Wilson - IQ 145.1
Woodrow Wilson was one of the most educated and intelligent presidents. He attended Princeton, the University of Virginia, and Johns Hopkins University where he studied political science. He has also worked as a professor of law and economics at many universities, and his scientific work is considered among the best in those fields. His presidency was marked by the First World War, which definitely affects the final assessment of Wilson’s term.
5. Bill Clinton - IQ 148.8
The Bill Clinton presidency is one of the most controversial in American history. The Clinton family is responsible for many scandals, the most notable of which is the president’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. But despite a not-so-positive mandate, Clinton is among the most intelligent presidents. The question is how much intelligence influences decision making and behavior. In Clinton’s case, the answer could be - not at all.
4. John F. Kennedy - IQ 150.7
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States. Americans and the general international public remember him as a positive president and an intelligent person who contributed a lot to American politics and image building abroad. Receiving the Pulitzer Prize was a confirmation of the talent and abilities of the youngest elected American president and a Harvard lawyer. Unfortunately, Kennedy is one of 4 presidents who did not survive the assassination. The events that preceded that day, as well as the assassination itself, are still the subject of debate and a source for many conspiracy theories.
3. Thomas Jefferson - IQ 153.8
Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States. He is remembered as one of the founders of the state and the author of one of the most important legal and historical documents - the Declaration of Independence. He spoke Latin, Greek, and French, and studied history, science, and the classics. He had a collection of 6,000 books, most of which he read. Jefferson’s IQ classifies him as a genius, which is confirmed by his work and legacy.
2. Donald Trump - IQ 156
Although most mainstream media try to portray him as an unintelligent and silly president, Donald Trump ranks in the high 2nd place of the most intelligent people who worked in the oval office. His business empire and successes are synonymous with American capitalism and economics. Donald Trump is the richest American president in history, and his high IQ has certainly helped him achieve incredible success in business and political life.
1. John Quincy Adams - IQ 168.8
John Quincy Adams is the most intelligent American president in history! His IQ of 168.8 puts him on the list ahead of geniuses like Stephen W. Hawking, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, and close to Nikola Tesla! Fun fact: John Quincy Adams is the first American president to be photographed with a camera.