John Quincy Adams

The Smartest and the Least Smart US Presidents by IQ

Can you achieve a significant success even though you are were not the smartest kid in the classroom? One of the best examples can be seen in the IQ scores of ex-presidents of the United States. According to the research conducted by the University of California, who investigated the IQ ratio of ex-presidents based on their biographies, their leadership, and overall academic brilliance. We’ve decided to present you with the 5 smartest and 5 least smart presidents of the US.

Smartest Presidents

John Quincy Adams (1825-1829) – IQ Score: 168.75

The sixth president of the US studied law at the famous Harvard University. He is famous for his brilliant presidential mandate achievements, such as ending the war with the United Kingdom with the Treaty of Ghent, Buying the state of Florida from Spain, and established the border with Canada.

Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) – IQ Score: 153.75

Thomas Jefferson is probably the most intellectual president of them all because of his knowledge of architecture, mechanics, several languages, mathematics, and being a talented surveyor. His achievements are establishing a peace treaty with France, developing the American trade, and he doubled the territory of the United States.

John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) – IQ Score: 150.65

JFK is one of the most loved US presidents ever, mainly for his charm and for his tragic end. He was responsible for steering the country during the Cold War era and he managed to achieve some exceptional things for his country like Equal Pay Act (1963) and proposing the blueprint for the future Civil Rights Act (1964).

Bill Clinton (1993-2001) – IQ Score: 148.8

42th American President had a really rough childhood that had a lot of family drama; however, he didn’t let these to prevent him to succeed in life. Before he became a US President, he worked at the University of Arkansas, where he lectured law and he was the Governor of Arkansas.

Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) – IQ Score: 145.1

Even though Woodrow Wilson wasn’t such a great law student, he ultimately managed to pass the bar exam in the state of Georgia. He was the US president during the crucial years after World War I, and he had a significant influence on the future look of the European continent after the war.

Least Smart Presidents

Andrew Johnson (1865-1869) – IQ Score: 125.65

Andrew Johnson was the 17th president of the US, who emerged from a poor family and he didn’t receive an official education. He will be remembered as the total opposite of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, and he wasn’t remembered well by the people.

George W. Bush (2001-2009) – IQ Score: 124.88

Described as a traditional man, George W. Bush was the second US president from the Bush family. His presidency evolved around criticism of the Iraq War and bad response to Hurricane Katrina, which hit states of Louisiana, Florida, and Mississippi.

Warren G. Harding (1921-1923) – IQ Score:124.13

Before Warren Harding became the US president, he was the co-owner of a moneymaking newspaper. His presidency is often described as one of the worst in the history of the US by historians.

James Monroe (1817-1825) – IQ Score: 124.13

James Monroe was an ambassador of the US in France, where he didn’t have a lot of success, before becoming a president. However, he did a good job of being a president and he had numerous achievements, but, the most prominent is that he found colonies for freed slaves in Africa. The capital of Liberia, Monrovia got its name after him.

Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877) – IQ Score: 120

The former general that fought in the Civil War is believed to have the lowest IQ Score among all Presidents involved in the research. Even he was a successful general, he wasn’t the best in his new role as a president, and he didn’t have any success with battling depression in the late 1800s which ended in bankruptcy of many American citizens, as well as him.

The Era of Good Feelings and the Origins of the Modern Two-Party System

At the beginning of the 19th century, America was a deeply divided state. The most notable division was between Federalist and Republican parties, but there were others, similar damaging ones, like the North and South split, or the antagonism between large East Coast cities and settlers on the Western frontier. It fell on James Monroe’s shoulders to reconcile these divisions. Despite them, after the victory in a war against Great Britain in 1812, the wave of optimism swept across the nation, later to be dubbed the Era of Good Feelings. The period was in large part marked by the presidency of James Monroe (1816-1825) and his efforts to reunite the nation.

Federalist party, favoring good relationships with Great Britain, was in disarray after the War of 1812. The pray was accused of secretly plotting to install a king and ring down the republic, something a vast majority of Americans loathed. Federalist tried to consolidate by calling Hartford Convention in 1814, but the convention, marred with secret meetings and closed-door sessions, only served to further dissolve the party. Presidential elections in 1816, which saw James Monroe defeat Federalist candidate Rufus King overwhelmingly, were the final nail in the coffin.

The new president considered all political parties incompatible with democracy and took active measures to reduce their influence, not only of the Federalist Party but also of his own Democratic-Republicans as well. He was so successful in his attempts that in 1820 he ran for president again, and this time almost without a real opponent. In an effort to reconcile the country, he went on good-will tours in 1817 and 1819. In 1817 he visited New England, focusing on Federalists’ strongpoints Massachusetts and Boston. It was in Boston, and by a Federalists newspaper, that the term “Era of Good Feelings” was coined. President Monroe’s dignified, yet easy-going style won over many Federalist, ushering the nation in a new age of unity and patriotism.

Monroe realized that rivalry within his own party could easily jeopardize everything he worked for, so he always tried to include his political rivals in his administration by granting them high political offices. Three of his four competitors for the 1824 elections served in his administration: John Quincy Adams, John C. Calhoun, and William H. Crawford. The fourth one, Andrew Jackson, was a commander of the Army on the southeastern border of the United States. Despite Monroe’s intentions, his efforts eroded the party unity.

Harry Ammon in his book “James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity” said: “From the moment that Monroe adopted as his guiding principle the maxim that he was head of a nation, not the leader of a party, he repudiated for all practical purposes the party unity that would have served to establish his policies. The result was a loss of party discipline.”

Old Republicans, a faction within Democrats-Republican, raised issues over the new nationalism and a new conflict over state and federal rights emerged. A question of Southern supremacy within the Union was another issue that led to the creation of the Whig Party in 1830 and the end of Era of Good Feelings.


How John Quincy Adams Won Elections Against Andrew Jackson And The First Democratic Party Convention

One of the most important moments for the Democratic Party happened on May 21, 1832, when delegates that supported President Andrew Jackson held the first official convention of the party. This event set trend that became regular occurrence far into the next century.

The rise of the Democratic Party started on that day, and it has become one of the most influential political organization ever. Before the elections that were held in 1824 and 1828, it was the Congress that pointed presidential nominees. This was changed, and the regional candidates wanted the presidency that wasn’t in the caucus system.

This is something that changed American history and it was the start of the national conventions that were held before the elections. The first of those conventions was held by Anti-Masonic Party in 1831, but this organization didn’t last long. What they did manage to do is to gather a total of 110 delegates from 13 states and choose William Wirt as their presidential nominee.

In December 1831, National Republicans party organized their convention and Henry Clay, the leader, was elected as the presidential candidate. Among the most prominent members of NR also were former President John Quincy Adams and Daniel Webster.

John Quincy Adams. National Republican (MA) Andrew Jackson. Democrat (TN)

On the other hand, Democratic Party convention that was held in 1832 ended with second term nomination of Andrew Jackson. One change, in this case, was the fact that Martin Van Buren was chosen for the Vice President position and not the John C. Calhoun that occupied that position in the previous term.

The result was quite satisfying for Democrats as Jackson easily won his second term. Both of the opposition parties didn’t last long, but it also meant the beginning of the Whig Party.

As we already mentioned, John Quincy Adams managed to beat Jackson and became the sixth president of the United States in 1825. Contingent elections were held as no candidate managed to take the majority of votes. Since Clay decided to back Adams, he did get the support of 13 of 24 states and earn the victory over Johnson in 1825. As an award for the support, Clay was appointed as a Secretary of State, and Jackson’s supporters called this a “Corrupt Bargain.” It is a good question what would happen if John Quincy did adapt to the new ways of politics and marketing. Could he win the next elections? Adams refused to go that way and consequently he lost the battle for his second term to Jackson.

John Quincy Adams and Grand Strategy


Last year, Dr. Charles N. Edel, a professor at the National War College spoke about his experiences in the academic world and the world of politics. He also talked about his book called “Nation Builder: John Quincy Adams and the Grand Strategy of the Republic.” Apparently, this grand strategy can be applied to the modern society and the world we live in.

What were some of the key points of Edel’s speech?

John Quincy Adams had a chance to change the country for the better after a devastating War that took place in 1812. This was the time when the US could experience economic growth and territorial expansion. Before becoming a president, he was Secretary of State, but his politics and philosophy remained the same. He was against the Old World monarchies, and he advocated republicanism. Adams wanted to prevent European expansion and facilitate the American instead, but he was also against slavery which spread like wildfire.

In order for the US to become a relevant country worldwide, domestic institutions and infrastructure needed to develop first. Among the most important tasks Adams had was instilling a sense of civic duty among the people who lived in America. This was just a part of the grand strategy.

Adams firmly believed that the United States was supposed to remain neutral in foreign affairs, but at the same time, he wanted large sums of money to go into developing military infrastructure. With the country which is strong internally, defense of the territory would be a lot easier, and that was what Adams hoped to achieve.

When he was the Secretary of State, the country spread its borders to Florida and the hinterlands. However, before spreading its powers and displaying it on the global level, the U.S. needed a safe western border. During his presidency, Adams facilitated education, commerce, and industry. Introducing some of the changes and rules was difficult to translate into legislation due to structural shifts in the American politics, but he had a goal to delegitimize monarchy and put republicanism first.

The reason why Adams had such views lies in his upbringing. When he was a boy, his father exposed him to the international politics which sparked his interest in politics and modeled his ambitions. When he was a US diplomat, John Quincy Adams met world leaders, statesmen, and scholars from different corners of Earth. He was familiar with different cultures, philosophies and governing systems which affected his forward-thinking philosophy in large measure.

For Adams, history was quite important, and he learned much from it. He believed that nations, whether they were monarchic or republican, had same universal laws and strategic interests. Thanks to history, he was able to predict what was going to happen and he mostly relied on the Roman history and the history of the Ancient Greeks. Adams wanted all policymakers to be familiar with the rise and fall of all of these great nations so that they could use the knowledge to make better sense of the current affairs and consequently make better decisions. The wars were waged in Europe and Adams advocated a strong centralized government in the US which would protect the then-fragile republic from foreign influence or possible attacks.

However, it took a lot of time for these objectives to be applied and America needed to go through Civil War first. Obviously, his thoughts on foreign policy influence the American grand strategy as we speak. Adams was able to recognize threats which were imminent and those less pressing were dealt later on. This has helped America achieve domestic stability before spreading democracy around the world. Although the changes were not that drastic during his rule, he managed to instill such an opinion and establish himself as one of the most prominent figures of delicate US.