To what extent does intelligence play a role in the ability to govern an entire nation?
There is a correlation between a high IQ and effective leadership, even though having a high IQ does not ensure a person will be successful. How intelligent are the people who have served as President of the United States, and is it true that those with the highest IQ tend to be the most successful?
In earlier research carried out in 2006, Professor Dean Simonton used estimating methodologies to evaluate the President’s intelligence level. The indexes are assessed based on the biographical information and the articles written by each President when he was in office.
Since there was no information on the Presidents’ IQ, Mr. Simonton calculated an estimate based on personality attributes mentioned in biographies.
Table of Contents
- 1. John Quincy Adams – The Sixth President Of The United States
- 2. John Adams – The Second President Of The United States
- 3. Thomas Jefferson – The Third President Of The United States
- 4. John F. Kennedy – The 35th President Of The United States
- 5. Bill Clinton – The 42nd President Of The United States
- 6. James Madison – The Fourth President Of The United States
- 7. Jimmy Carter – The 39th President Of The United States
- 8. Woodrow Wilson – The 28th President Of The United States
- 9. Theodore Roosevelt – The 26th President Of The United States
- 10. James Garfield – The 20th President Of The United States
- 11. Chester Arthur – The 21st President Of The United States
- 12. Abraham Lincoln – The 16th President Of The United States
- 13. Franklin D. Roosevelt – The 32nd President Of The United States
- 14. Millard Fillmore – The 13th President Of The United States
- 15. John Tyler – The Tenth President Of The United States
- 16. Franklin Pierce – The 14th President Of The United States
- 17. William Henry Harrison – The Ninth President Of The United States
- 18. Rutherford B. Hayes – The 19th President Of The United States
- 19. George Washington – The First President Of The United States
- 20. Richard Nixon – The 37th President Of The United States
1. John Quincy Adams – The Sixth President Of The United States
With an IQ of 175, he came first on the list. The nickname “Old Man Eloquent” was well-deserved for the great orator John Quincy Adams. He spoke seven languages. Adam was one of the most prominent diplomats and presidents in the history of the United States. He obtained his law degree and graduated from Harvard without ever attending law school.
2. John Adams – The Second President Of The United States
John Adams was the 2nd President of the United States. He served in this role from 1797 to 1801 as America’s first Vice President under George Washington. According to Simonton’s estimates, Adams’ IQ is 173.
Adams studied law at Harvard University and was a patron of the American revolution in Massachusetts, which paved the way for independence in 1776.
He is best remembered for his diplomacy. While in office, John Adams’ greatest achievement was the peaceful solution he negotiated and agreed to with the French Government to end the conflict and prevent the outbreak of a fierce war between France and the United States.
3. Thomas Jefferson – The Third President Of The United States
Between 1801 and 1809, Thomas Jefferson served as the third President of the United States. Simonton’s analysis shows he has a very high IQ of 160.
Before beginning his legal education, Thomas Jefferson received his degree from the College of William & Mary. After progressively taking on the role of heading the Republican Party, he hesitantly entered the race for the presidency of the United States.
After being elected President, one of his first acts was to reduce the very high tax on whiskey.
4. John F. Kennedy – The 35th President Of The United States
Before he was murdered in 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy served as the 35th President of the United States for a little over two years. He was assassinated in 1963. According to Simonton’s calculations, he had an intelligence level of 158.
After receiving his degree from Harvard University in 1940, Kennedy immediately enlisted in the navy and suffered a severe injury while serving his country in World War II.
In 1960, he won the election for the presidency. During his inaugural speech, John F. Kennedy made a renowned statement even to this day: “Do not inquire about what the nation can provide for you. Inquire about how you may assist your nation.”
5. Bill Clinton – The 42nd President Of The United States
Bill Clinton served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. His full name is William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton. Simonton comes up with a score of 156 for his intelligence level.
Clinton was elected governor of Arkansas in 1978, four years after graduating from Georgetown University. During that time, he earned a law degree from Yale University and was awarded the Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University.
After that, he was successful in his bid for president in 1992. Bill Clinton’s attempts to resolve the conflict between Ireland and the Balkans were very much appreciated by all parties involved.
6. James Madison – The Fourth President Of The United States
James Madison is acknowledged as one of the United States Constitution’s Founding Fathers. According to Simonton’s calculations, James Madison has an intelligence level of 155.
After receiving his diploma in 1771 from the institution now known as Princeton University, Madison moved on to pursue a career in law. In collaboration with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, he contributed significantly to ratifying the written Constitution by publishing writings on federalism and playing a leading role in developing the Federalist Papers.
In addition to co-authoring the Bill of Rights, Madison served as Secretary of State under President Thomas Jefferson when he was in office.
7. Jimmy Carter – The 39th President Of The United States
Jimmy Carter, sometimes known as James Earl Carter, was the 39th President of the United States, serving in that capacity from 1977 to 1981. In recognition of his efforts to advance human rights globally, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to him in 2002. According to Simonton’s calculations, his intelligence level is 153.
In 1946, Carter received his diploma from the Naval Academy, and four years later, he won the election as Governor of Georgia. After being elected President, he initiated several significant measures, including reforming the administrative structure and the national energy strategy
8. Woodrow Wilson – The 28th President Of The United States
According to Simonton, Woodrow Wilson, who served as the 28th President of the United States, is estimated to have an intelligence level of around 152. From the years 1902 and 1910, he served as president of Princeton University. He served as governor of New Jersey between 1911 and 1913.
Wilson launched his campaign for antitrust legislation soon after he was elected president, and he was successful in having the Federal Trade Commission Act signed into law in September of 1914.
9. Theodore Roosevelt – The 26th President Of The United States
As the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt served that role. At 43, he holds the record for being the youngest President in the history of the United States. Simonton concluded that Roosevelt had an IQ of 149.
After receiving his degree from Harvard in 1880, he attended Columbia University to pursue a legal education but ultimately dropped out. Instead of focusing on his studies, he devoted most of his time to writing a book about the War of 1812.
10. James Garfield – The 20th President Of The United States
James Garfield became the 20th President of the United States in 1881, although he only served as president for a little over a year before he was killed in an assassination attempt.
Simonton’s calculations suggest that Garfield had an intelligence level of 148 when he graduated from Williams College. Despite the fact that Garfield’s term as president was relatively brief, he accomplished a great deal during his time in office, including the development of the United States Navy, the battle against corruption, and the appointment of African-Americans to significant government posts.
11. Chester Arthur – The 21st President Of The United States
Chester Arthur was elected as the 21st President of the United States of America after the assassination of James Garfield in the year 1881. Simonton guesses that his IQ is somewhere around 148.
Arthur started his career as a legal practitioner in New York City after graduating from Union College in 1848 and earning his degree in the field of law. Before he was elected the 20th Vice President of the United States, Arthur served in this role.
12. Abraham Lincoln – The 16th President Of The United States
In 1862, only a few short months before the start of the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as the 16th President of the United States.
His excellent IQ of 148 demonstrated how admirable his self-education was. Abraham Lincoln could emerge from his meager beginnings and became an exceptional lawyer despite having little formal education. Thanks to his outstanding accomplishments, he is on the path to the president.
He was chosen by the majority of Americans in 1861. He subsequently worked to end slavery by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. His Gettysburg Address was declared the most well-known presidential address in American history.
13. Franklin D. Roosevelt – The 32nd President Of The United States
When Franklin D. Roosevelt took office, the United States was deep in the throes of the Great Depression. He became the 32nd President of the United States and served for a total of four terms, beginning in 1933 and ending in 1945.
Before joining the Democratic party and earning elected to the New York Senate in 1910, Roosevelt had degrees from Harvard and Columbia Law Schools. It is believed that his IQ is 146.
14. Millard Fillmore – The 13th President Of The United States
Millard Fillmore served as the 13th and last president to have the Whig party nomination.
According to Simonton’s calculations, he had an intelligence level of 143 and exemplified the American ideal in its purest form. Fillmore was born in 1800 in a log cabin in the Finger Lakes region of New York. In 1823, he went on to become a lawyer, and not long after that, he was chosen to serve in the House of Representatives.
After Zachary Taylor’s untimely death, Fillmore was elevated to the position of president and served from 1850 until 1853.
15. John Tyler – The Tenth President Of The United States
After William Henry Harrison, the previous president of the United States, passed away in April 1841, John Tyler became the 10th president of the United States.
Tyler received his legal education at the College of William & Mary, where he also attended. Even though he was believed to have had an IQ of 142, his contemporaries often failed to take him seriously since he was the first vice president to become president without being elected.
Despite the criticism he received, Tyler could get a lot of good legislation approved during his presidency, including a tariff measure designed to help northern manufacturing.
16. Franklin Pierce – The 14th President Of The United States
His presidency spanned 1853 to 1857, making Franklin Pierce the 14th president of the United States. According to Simonton’s calculations, Pierce had an intelligence level of 141.
Unfortunately, most historians rate him among the worst presidents in history.
Pierce attempted to improve governmental transparency and establish the framework for the construction of railways. Still, his accomplishments were overshadowed by less well-liked programs, such as the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
It gave new regions the freedom to choose whether to permit slavery or not. The legislation made the Civil War possible, which provoked violent clashes between settlers who supported and opposed slavery.
17. William Henry Harrison – The Ninth President Of The United States
Being the seventh and last child in his family meant that William Henry Harrison only received a little fortune. To make his mark on the world, he decided to depend on his skills and intelligence rather than his resources and sought a military career. The estimate for his IQ is 134.
He embraced politics after finding victory in combat, becoming Indiana’s first governor. As the ninth president, he was chosen (1841). Harrison became ill soon after being sworn in, and the cold he had ended up dying from. He held office for the shortest period in presidency history, only 30 days, 12 hours, and 30 minutes.
18. Rutherford B. Hayes – The 19th President Of The United States
The future 19th president (1877–1881) worked at a legal firm for over a year before enrolling in Harvard’s law school. As a staunch advocate for equality, Rutherford B. Hayes represented fugitive slaves in court. Some may categorize him as an idealist. His IQ is thought to be 134.
As president, he attempted to resolve unresolved issues from the Civil War and Reconstruction while promoting civil service reform. Despite his best efforts, Hayes could not peacefully resolve racial tensions in society and politics.
19. George Washington – The First President Of The United States
The renowned first president of the United States (1789–1797) received an IQ rating that was close to the average. Washington hardly completed elementary school, yet he serves as an example of how someone with less formal education can still make their mark on history. It is believed that he has a 132 IQ.
He served in the colonial military for six years during the deadly and chaotic French and Indian War. George Washington saw the necessity for a powerful federal government after military victories and numerous unsuccessful wars.
20. Richard Nixon – The 37th President Of The United States
During his time at school, the man who would serve as the 37th President of the United States (1969–1974) was an outstanding student. Richard Nixon achieved outstanding grades and excelled in a variety of extracurricular activities. A score of 131 is assigned to his intelligence level.
Nixon made two separate runs for the presidency, the second of which he was victorious.
His life was supposed to be a narrative of tenacity and intellectual triumphs, including significant advances in international relations, but a scandal eclipsed all else he had accomplished. Only President Richard Nixon has ever resigned from office under such circumstances.