Top 20 Smartest Presidents of All Time (And Where Trump Ranks Among Them)



[post_ads]In 2006 Dean Simonton, psychology professor at University of California at Davis, finished researching the “intellectual brilliance” of 42 U.S. presidents.

Some presidents pre-dated modern IQ testing. So Simonton estimated their scores with personality traits referenced in their biographies that indicate an above-average level of intelligence ­‑‑ “wise,” “inventive,” “artistic,” “curious,” “sophisticated,” “complicated,” and “insightful.”

From that study, we compiled a list of the top 20 smartest presidents.  And where the current President (Donald Trump) ranks among them.



20. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower was a five-star Army general in World War II and the 34th U.S. president, serving from 1953 to 1961. He had an IQ of 138. During World War II, he planned and supervised the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942–43 and the invasion of France and Germany in 1944–45 from the Western Front.



19. Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren was the eighth president, serving from 1837 to 1841. According to Simonton’s research, he had an IQ of 139. Shortly after Van Buren took office, the Panic of 1837 struck. His failure to cope with the economic derailed his re-election bid.


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18. William H. Harrison

William Henry Harrison was the ninth U.S. president. He had an IQ of 140, according to Simonton’s estimates. Harrison died from pneumonia on April 4, 1841, after only 31 days in office.



17. Rutherford B. Hayes

Rutherford B. Hayes served as the 19th president from 1877 to 1881. He had an IQ of 140, according to Simonton’s findings. Hayes assumed the presidency at the end of the Reconstruction Era through the Compromise of 1877.


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16. Franklin Pierce

Serving from 1853 to 1857, Pierce was the 14th U.S. president. He had an IQ of 141, according to Simonton’s estimation. After graduating from Bowdoin College, Pierce was elected to the New Hampshire legislature when he was 24 and became its speaker two years later.



15. John Tyler

John Tyler was the 10th president. He served one term after succeeding William Henry Harrison, who died in April 1841. Despite Tyler’s estimated IQ of 142, he faced disrespect from his after becoming the first president without being elected.


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14. Millard Fillmore

The 13th U.S. president serving from 1850 to 1853, Millard Fillmore was the final Whig president and succeeded Zachary Taylor upon his death. He had an IQ of 143, according to Simonton’s estimates. Shortly after becoming a lawyer in 1823, Fillmore was elected to the House of Representatives.



13. Franklin D. Roosevelt

With an IQ of 146, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the 32nd U.S. president, serving from 1933 until his death in 1945. He went into politics as a Democrat, winning the 1910 election to the New York Senate. Roosevelt was diagnosed with polio in 1921 and still went on to be elected to the U.S. presidency in 1932. His New Deal program focused on the economic recovery of businesses and individuals during the Great Depression.


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12. Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th president just before Civil War boke out in 1861. Lincoln served in office until being assassinated shortly after re-election in 1865. He had an IQ of 148, according to Simonton’s estimates. Lincoln taught himself to read and write. He was also the only serving president to receive a patent after inventing a mechanism to free ground-ridden steamboats.


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11. Chester Arthur

Chester Arthur succeeded James Garfield as America’s 21st U.S. president after Garfield was assassinated in 1881. Arthur had an IQ of 148, according to Simonton’s research. He graduated from Union College in 1848 and practiced law in New York City before being elected vice president on the Republican ticket in 1880. When he assumed the presidency over a year later, Arthur distinguished himself as a reformer.



10. James Garfield

James Garfield was the 20th president, serving for less than a year before being assassinated in 1882. He had an IQ of 148, according to Simonton’s findings. Garfield strengthened the Navy, eliminated Post Office Department corruption, and appointed several African-Americans to federal positions.


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9. Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th U.S. president. He had an IQ of 149, according to Simonton’s estimates. According to White House records, Roosevelt graduated Phi Betta Kappa from Harvard in 1880 and went to Columbia to study law. However, instead of studying he spent most of his time penning a book about the War of 1812.



8. Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson was the 28th president and leader of the Progressive Movement. He had an estimated IQ of 152. While in office, Wilson pushed for anti-trust legislation which resulted in the September 1914 signing of the Federal Trade Commission Act.


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7. Jimmy Carter

James Earl “Jimmy” Carter, Jr. was the 39th U.S. president, serving from 1977 to 1981. He has an IQ of 153. While in office, he enacted numerous polices, including civil service reform. In 2002, Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize for his global human rights efforts.



6. John Adams

John Adams was the second president. He served from 1797 to 1801 after serving as the nation’s first vice president under George Washington. He had an IQ of 153, according to Simonton’s estimates. Adams studied law at Harvard and was an early supporter of the movement for U.S. independence.


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5. James Madison

One of the fathers of the Constitution, James Madison had an IQ of 155, according to Simonton’s evaluation. Collaborating with fellow Federalists Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to produce the Federalist Papers in 1788. He was the fourth U.S. president, serving from 1809 to 1817.



4. Bill Clinton

William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton was the 42nd president, serving from 1993-2001. He has an IQ of 156. After graduating from Georgetown, winning a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University and earning a law degree from Yale in 1973, Clinton was elected governor of Arkansas in 1978.


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3. John F. Kennedy

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the 35th U.S. president, serving fewer than three years before his 1963 assassination. He had an IQ of 158. Kennedy graduated from Harvard in 1940 and joined the Navy shortly afterward, suffering grave injuries while serving in World War II.



2. Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was an American founding father and served as the country’s third president between 1801–1809. He had an IQ of 160, according to Simonton’s research. White House records indicate that he was poor public speaker.


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1. John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams was the sixth president, serving from 1825 to 1829. He had an IQ of 172, according to Simonton’s estimates. The son of President John Adams, he was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later the Anti-Masonic and Whig parties.



Donald Trump

Trump hasn’t openly revealed his IQ.  But based on the prior research, and the events in Trump’s life, it is believed he has an IQ of 120-130.  He certainly doesn’t crack the top 20, in fact, he is near the bottom of all Presidents.

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