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U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands

Updated June 14, 2019 17.4k votes 2.5k voters 27.8k views42 items

List RulesVote up the First Ladies you strongly suspect were smarter than the commanders in chief.

When they say behind every great man lies a great woman, it comes as no stretch to assume the smartest First Ladies of the United States outranked their husbands in terms of intelligence. Though they may not lead the country, the First Lady involves herself in politics, human welfare, and numerous other roles that require her intelligence as much as her poise. As the other half of the president, it stands to reason she too influences his decisions. With that in mind, which First Lady was the smartest? 

As First Lady of the United States, the President's wife constantly finds herself under public scrutiny. Although no official roles exist for First Ladies, many of the smartest First Ladies stepped up to take on all sorts of responsibilities including helping with political campaigns, managing the White House, and leading social causes. Some notable First Ladies include Hillary Clinton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Laura Bush, Michelle Obama, and Jacqueline Kennedy. Some First Ladies even launched their own political careers, lending more credence to the idea that the smart wives of presidents may not outrank them in security clearance, but they definitely do in brains.

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  • 1
    1,011
    183

    Eleanor Roosevelt

    Dec. at 78 (1884-1962)

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, United States of America

    Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (; October 11, 1884 – November 7, 1962) was an American political figure, diplomat and activist. She served as the First Lady of the United States from March 4, 1933 to April...  more
  • 2
    844
    290

    Laura Bush

    Age: 74

    BirthplaceMidland, Texas, United States of America

    Laura Welch Bush (née Laura Lane Welch; born November 4, 1946) is an American educator who was First Lady of the United States during the presidency of her husband, George W. Bush, from 2001 to 2009....  more
  • 3
    439
    165

    Abigail Adams

    Dec. at 73 (1744-1818)

    BirthplaceWeymouth, Massachusetts, United States of America

    Abigail Adams (née Smith; November 22, [O.S. November 11] 1744 – October 28, 1818) was the wife and closest advisor of John Adams, as well as the mother of John Quincy Adams. She is sometimes...  more
  • 4
    424
    186

    Dolley Madison

    Dec. at 81 (1768-1849)

    BirthplaceGreensboro, North Carolina, United States of America

    Dolley Todd Madison (née Payne; May 20, 1768 – July 12, 1849) was the wife of James Madison, President of the United States from 1809 to 1817. She was noted for holding Washington social functions in...  more
  • 5
    650
    353

    Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

    Dec. at 64 (1929-1994)

    BirthplaceSouthampton, New York, United States of America

    Jacqueline Lee Kennedy Onassis (née Bouvier ; July 28, 1929 – May 19, 1994) was First Lady of the United States during the presidency of John F. Kennedy and was regarded then and afterward as an...  more
  • 6
    507
    265

    BirthplaceFlushing, New York City, New York, United States of America

    Barbara Pierce Bush (born Barbara Pierce; June 8, 1925 – April 17, 2018) was the first lady of the United States from 1989 to 1993 as the wife of George H. W. Bush, who served as the 41st president...  more
  • 7
    887
    540

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois, USA

    Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (née Robinson; born January 17, 1964) is an American lawyer, university administrator and writer, who was the first lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She...  more
  • 8
    853
    535

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois, USA

    Alternative NameHillary Clinton

    Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton (born Hillary Diane Rodham, October 26, 1947) is an American politician, diplomat, lawyer, writer and public speaker. She was First Lady of the United States from 1993 to...  more
  • 9
    865
    577

    BirthplaceSevnica, Slovenia

    Melania Trump (born April 26, 1970) is a Slovenian-American former fashion model. She was the 45th first lady of the United States from 2017 to 2021, during the presidency of her husband, Donald...  more
  • 10
    566
    368

    Nancy Reagan

    Dec. at 94 (1921-2016)

    BirthplaceNew York, New York, USA

    Alternative NameNancy Reagan

    Nancy Davis Reagan (born Anne Frances Robbins; July 6, 1921 – March 6, 2016) was an American film actress and the wife of Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States. She was the first...  more
  • 11
    328
    203

    Betty Ford

    Dec. at 93 (1918-2011)

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois, USA

    Elizabeth Anne Ford (née Bloomer; April 8, 1918 – July 8, 2011) was the First Lady of the United States from 1974 to 1977, as the wife of President Gerald Ford. As First Lady, she was active in...  more
  • 12
    262
    205

    BirthplacePlains, Georgia, United States of America

    Eleanor Rosalynn Carter (née Smith; born August 18, 1927) is an American who served as First Lady of the United States from 1977 to 1981, as the wife of President Jimmy Carter. For decades, she has...  more
  • 13
    251
    214

    Lady Bird Johnson

    Dec. at 94 (1912-2007)

    BirthplaceTexas, Contiguous United States, United States of America, United States, with Territories

    Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Johnson (née Taylor; December 22, 1912 – July 11, 2007) was an American socialite and the First Lady of the United States (1963–1969) as the wife of the 36th President of...  more
  • 14
    157
    150

    Edith Wilson

    Dec. at 89 (1872-1961)

    BirthplaceWytheville, Virginia, United States of America

    Edith Wilson (née Bolling, formerly Edith Bolling Galt; October 15, 1872 – December 28, 1961), second wife of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, was the First Lady of the United States from 1915 to 1921....  more
  • 15
    206
    241

    Pat Nixon

    Dec. at 81 (1912-1993)

    BirthplaceEly, Nevada

    Thelma Catherine "Pat" Nixon (née Ryan; March 16, 1912 – June 22, 1993), also commonly known as Patricia Nixon, was an American educator and the wife of Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the...  more
  • 16
    154
    196

    Martha Washington

    Dec. at 70 (1731-1802)

    BirthplaceChestnut Grove

    Martha Washington (née Dandridge; June 2 [O.S. June 2] 1731 – May 22, 1802) was the wife of George Washington, the first President of the United States. Although the title was not coined until...  more
  • 17
    154
    211

    Mamie Eisenhower

    Dec. at 82 (1896-1979)

    BirthplaceBoone, Des Moines Township, Iowa, United States of America

    Mamie Geneva Eisenhower (née Doud; November 14, 1896 – November 1, 1979) was wife of United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower and thereby First Lady of the United States from 1953 to 1961. Mamie...  more
  • 18
    100
    148

    Edith Roosevelt

    Dec. at 87 (1861-1948)

    BirthplaceNorwich, Connecticut, United States of America

    Edith Kermit Roosevelt (née Carow; August 6, 1861 – September 30, 1948) was the second wife of President Theodore Roosevelt and served as the First Lady of the United States during his presidency...  more
  • 19
    69
    105

    Grace Coolidge

    Dec. at 78 (1879-1957)

    BirthplaceBurlington, Vermont, United States of America

    Grace Anna Coolidge (née Goodhue; January 3, 1879 – July 8, 1957) was the wife of the 30th President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge. She was the First Lady of the United States from 1923 to...  more
  • 20
    78
    121

    Lou Henry Hoover

    Dec. at 69 (1874-1944)

    BirthplaceWaterloo, Iowa, United States of America

    Lou Henry Hoover (born Lou Henry; March 29, 1874 – January 7, 1944) was the wife of President of the United States Herbert Hoover and served as the First Lady of the United States from 1929 to...  more
  • 21
    89
    139

    Louisa Adams

    Dec. at 77 (1775-1852)

    BirthplaceLondon, United Kingdom

    Louisa Catherine Adams (née Johnson; February 12, 1775 – May 15, 1852), wife of John Quincy Adams, was the First Lady of the United States from 1825 to 1829. Born in London, she was the first First...  more
  • 22
    92
    151

    Bess Truman

    Dec. at 97 (1885-1982)

    BirthplaceArea code 816, Independence, Clay County, United States of America, United States

    Elizabeth Virginia "Bess" Truman (née Wallace; February 13, 1885 – October 18, 1982) was the wife of U.S. President Harry S. Truman and the First Lady of the United States from 1945 to 1953. She also...  more
  • 23
    64
    109

    Helen Herron Taft

    Dec. at 81 (1861-1943)

    BirthplaceOhio, Cincinnati, United States of America, United States, with Territories

    Helen Louise "Nellie" Taft (née Herron; June 2, 1861 – May 22, 1943) was the wife of William Howard Taft and the First Lady of the United States from 1909 to 1913....  more
  • 24
    53
    93

    Ida Saxton McKinley

    Dec. at 59 (1847-1907)

    BirthplaceCanton, Ohio, United States of America

    Ida McKinley (née Saxton; June 8, 1847 – May 26, 1907) was the First Lady of the United States from 1897 until 1901....  more
  • 25
    52
    92

    Hannah Van Buren

    Dec. at 35 (1783-1819)

    BirthplaceKinderhook, New York, United States of America

    Hannah Van Buren (born Hannah Hoes; March 8, 1783 – February 5, 1819) was the wife of the eighth President of the United States, Martin Van Buren. She died in 1819, before Martin Van Buren became...  more