Grant

Ulysses S. Grant

There’s a web site or two about everything, if not more, and I accidentally came upon one about the IQ of presidents of the United States. The name Trump immediately came to mind, and I had to take a look. IQ stands for Intelligence Quotient, a score derived these days from several tests. About 2 percent of the population scores above 130. Einstein’s IQ is estimated as above 160.

Obviously, not every president has had his IQ tested. Many were born before modern tests for IQ were devised, by whoever figures out such things.

But the inevitable know-it-alls on the subject claim that they can estimate IQ levels, based on psychological studies and other kinds of voodoo that experts rely on when they don’t have facts.

The web site I stumbled on maintains that an IQ of 140 is hitting the genius level, and the average IQ is 115.

It disagrees on the IQ of several presidents, and there are variations of the facts presented. The amount of material online about presidential intelligence measurements, and the number of differences on the subject, is astonishingly large and varied.

According to that first site I found, the all-time lowest U. S. presidential IQ was 120, and it belonged to Ulysses S. Grant.

I was sorry to read that. I was born on Grant’s 108th birthday. I discovered it when I was about 6 years old, and became an instant fan of the general. I’m sorry to see him at the bottom of the list, but 120 isn’t bad.

Warren G. Harding comes in second lowest, at 124. His womanizing wasn’t very smart. There were rendezvous with his mistress in a White House closet, with a Secret Service agent to knock on the door if Mrs. Harding arrived on the premises.

Andrew Johnson ranks at 125. He was vice president, and became president when Lincoln was assassinated. He welcomed the southern states back after the Civil War, did nothing to help former slaves, and was otherwise annoying. He was impeached, but was acquitted in the Senate by one vote.

Then comes William Howard Taft, at 126. He was elected in 1908, the chosen successor of Teddy Roosevelt. In 1912, Roosevelt tried to make a comeback, but the Republicans nominated Taft. Roosevelt formed a third party, splitting the vote, and Democrat Woodrow Wilson was elected president.

Calvin Coolidge was next on the IQ scale, with 127. He was known as Silent Cal. He was quoted as saying, “You can’t know too much, but you can say too much.”

Harry Truman, with 128, was vice president who succeeded Franklin D. Roosevelt, and was the president who ended World War II by authorizing atomic bombs dropped on Japan.

Zachary Taylor, IQ 129, was sworn in as president in March 1849, and died in July 1850.

James Buchanan, also 129, gets blamed for the Civil War by some historians. One source claims that Buchanan got threatening letters almost daily.

This column isn’t long enough to fit in all the presidents, so let’s skip ahead to the smartest chief executives.

The one with the highest estimated IQ was the sixth president, John Quincy Adams, estimated at IQ 175. He was the son of John Adams, the second U. S. president.

Next on the IQ scale were Thomas Jefferson and John F. Kennedy, both with 160 IQs. Bill Clinton was close behind at 159, and Jimmy Carter at 156.

Donald Trump? Some sources say 156, one says 145. You wanted to know, didn’t you?

Visit columnist Jim Smart’s web site at jamessmartsphiladelphia.com.

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