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

Mel Judson
9.6k votes 1.4k voters 15k views 43 items

List Rules Vote 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.

list ordered by

1
573 102
Eleanor Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 78 (1884-1962) Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was an American politician, diplomat, and activist. She was the longest-serving First Lady of the United States, holding the post from March 1933 to April 1945 during her ...more

2
474 178
Laura Bush is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
age 71 Laura Bush is the wife of the forty third President of the United States George W. Bush and the incumbent First Lady of the United States. Born in 1946 in Midland, Texas, Mrs. Bush always had an ...more

3
529 289
Michelle Obama is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
age 54 Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is an American lawyer, university administrator, and writer who served as the First Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She is married to the 44th U.S. ...more

4
381 188
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 65 (1929-1994) Jacqueline Lee "Jackie" Kennedy Onassis was the wife of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and First Lady of the United States during his presidency. Five years ...more

5
355 192
Nancy Reagan is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
age 96 Nancy Davis Reagan is the widow of the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, and was First Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Although she was born in New York City, her ...more

6
238 106
Dolley Madison is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 81 (1768-1849) Dolley Payne Todd Madison was the wife of James Madison, President of the United States from 1809 to 1817. She was noted for her social gifts, which boosted her husband’s popularity as ...more

7
271 137
Barbara Bush is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
age 92 Barbara Bush (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 of the United States, ...more

8
499 322
Hillary Clinton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
age 70 Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is an American attorney, politician and member of the Democratic Party. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was First Lady of ...more

9
451 286
Melania Trump is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
age 47 Melania Knauss-Trump is a Slovenian former model and the wife of American real estate magnate Donald Trump. They married on January 22, 2005.

10
207 93
Abigail Adams is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 74 (1744-1818) Abigail Adams was the wife of John Adams, the first Vice President, and second President, of the United States, and the mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth President. She is now designated ...more

11
169 114
Betty Ford is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 93 (1918-2011) Betty Ford was an actress and a writer

12
141 118
Lady Bird Johnson is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 95 (1912-2007) Claudia Alta Taylor "Lady Bird" Johnson was First Lady of the United States, as the wife of the 36th President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson. Notably well-educated for a ...more

13
120 102
Rosalynn Carter is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
age 90 Eleanor Rosalynn Carter is the wife of the 39th President of the United States, Jimmy Carter and in that capacity served as the First Lady of the United States from 1977 to 1981. She has for ...more

14
126 123
Pat Nixon is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 81 (1912-1993) Thelma Catherine "Pat" Ryan Nixon was the wife of Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States, and First Lady of the United States from 1969 to 1974. Born in Ely, Nevada, she ...more

15
87 98
Martha Washington is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 71 (1731-1802) Martha Dandridge Custis Washington was the wife of George Washington, the first president of the United States. Although the title was not coined until after her death, Martha Washington is ...more

16
92 108
Mamie Eisenhower is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 83 (1896-1979) Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower was the wife of United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and First Lady of the United States from 1953 to 1961. Mamie married Dwight Eisenhower at age 19 in ...more

17
56 77
Louisa Adams is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 77 (1775-1852) Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, was First Lady of the United States from 1825 to 1829. She is the only First Lady born outside of the United States.

18
53 78
Edith Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 87 (1861-1948) Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt was the second wife of President Theodore Roosevelt and served as First Lady of the United States during his presidency from 1901 to 1909.

19
42 61
Edith Wilson is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 89 (1872-1961) Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, second wife of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, was First Lady of the United States from 1915 to 1921. She met the President in March 1915 and they married nine months ...more

20
42 62
Julia Grant is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 76 (1826-1902) Julia Boggs Dent Grant, was the wife of the 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, and was First Lady of the United States from 1869 to 1877.

21
48 73
Bess Truman is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 97 (1885-1982) Elizabeth Virginia "Bess" Truman, was the wife of Harry S. Truman and First Lady of the United States from 1945 to 1953. She had known her future husband since they were children ...more

22
47 74
Edith Wilson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 85 (1896-1981) Edith Wilson was an American blues singer and vaudeville performer.

23
34 60
Helen Herron Taft is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 82 (1861-1943) Helen Louise Herron "Nellie" Taft was the wife of William Howard Taft and First Lady of the United States from 1909 to 1913.

24
32 58
Lou Henry Hoover is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 70 (1874-1944) Lou Henry Hoover was the wife of President of the United States Herbert Hoover and served as First Lady from 1929 to 1933. Marrying her engineer husband in 1899, she traveled widely with him, ...more

25
30 56
Grace Coolidge is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 78 (1879-1957) Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge was the wife of Calvin Coolidge and First Lady of the United States from 1923 to 1929. She contributed greatly to her husband's rise to office, balancing his natural ...more

26
25 48
Hannah Van Buren is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 36 (1783-1819) Hannah Hoes Van Buren was the wife of the eighth United States President, Martin Van Buren. Martin, aged 24, and Hannah, aged 23, married on February 21, 1807 at the home of the bride's sister ...more

27
30 57
Julia Gardiner Tyler is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 69 (1820-1889) Julia Gardiner Tyler was the second wife of John Tyler, the tenth President of the United States, and served as First Lady of the United States from June 26, 1844, to March 4, 1845.

28
27 52
Lucy Hayes is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Lucy Hayes is a film producer, a film director and a screenwriter.

29
25 49
Ellen Wilson is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
age 42 Ellen Bernice Wilson is a female judoka from the United States, who won the silver medal in the women's lightweight division at the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. ...more

30
31 61
Rachel Jackson is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 61 (1767-1828) Rachel Donelson Robards Jackson, born Rachel Donelson, was the wife of Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of the United States. She lived with him at their home at The Hermitage, but died before ...more

31
22 46
Sarah Childress Polk is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 88 (1803-1891) Sarah Childress Polk was the wife of the 11th President of the United States, James Polk, serving as First Lady of the United States from 1845 to 1849.

32
30 63
Florence Harding is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 64 (1860-1924) Florence Mabel Kling Harding, previously DeWolfe, wife of President Warren G. Harding, was the First Lady of the United States from 1921 to 1923. She married the somewhat-younger Harding when he ...more

33
22 49
Elizabeth Monroe is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 62 (1768-1830) Elizabeth Kortright Monroe was First Lady of the United States from 1817 to 1825, as the wife of James Monroe, fifth President, who held the office for two terms. Due to the fragile condition of ...more

34
27 58
Ida Saxton McKinley is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 60 (1847-1907) Ida Saxton McKinley, wife of William McKinley, was First Lady of the United States from 1897 to 1901.

35
21 49
Frances Folsom Cleveland Prest... is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 83 (1864-1947) Frances Clara Folsom Cleveland Preston was the wife of the President of the United States Grover Cleveland and the 22nd and 24th First Lady of the United States from 1886 to 1889 and again from ...more

36
20 48
Jane Pierce is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 57 (1806-1863) Jane Means Appleton Pierce, wife of U.S. President Franklin Pierce, was First Lady of the United States from 1853 to 1857.

37
23 54
Abigail Fillmore is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 55 (1798-1853) Abigail Powers Fillmore, wife of Millard Fillmore, was First Lady of the United States from 1850 to 1853. Abigail was born in Stillwater, New York, 1798, in Saratoga County, New York. She was ...more

38
43 90
Mary Todd Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 64 (1818-1882) Mary Ann Todd Lincoln was the wife of the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and was First Lady of the United States from 1861 to 1865. A member of a large, wealthy ...more

39
16 44
Anna Harrison is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 89 (1775-1864) Anna Tuthill Symmes Harrison, wife of President William Henry Harrison and grandmother of President Benjamin Harrison, was nominally First Lady of the United States during her husband's ...more

40
17 46
Letitia Christian Tyler is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 52 (1790-1842) Letitia Christian Tyler, first wife of John Tyler, was First Lady of the United States from 1841 until her death.

41
19 51
Caroline Harrison is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 60 (1832-1892) Caroline Scott Harrison, was a teacher of music, the wife of Benjamin Harrison and mother of two surviving children; after his election as President of the United States, she was First Lady of ...more

42
19 51
Eliza McCardle Johnson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 66 (1810-1876) Eliza McCardle Johnson was the First Lady of the United States and the wife of Andrew Johnson, the 17th President of the United States.

43
20 53
Margaret Taylor is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list U.S. First Ladies That Are Probably Smarter Than Their Husbands
Dec. at 64 (1788-1852) Margaret Mackall Smith "Peggy" Taylor, wife of Zachary Taylor, was First Lady of the United States from 1849 to 1850.