Spiro Agnew

Spiro Agnew
Spiro Agnew in 1972, a middle-aged white American male in suit and tie, standing in front of a furled flag
39th Vice President of the United States
In office
January 20, 1969 – October 10, 1973
PresidentRichard Nixon
Preceded byHubert Humphrey
Succeeded byGerald Ford
55th Governor of Maryland
In office
January 25, 1967 – January 7, 1969
Preceded byJ. Millard Tawes
Succeeded byMarvin Mandel
3rd Baltimore County Executive
In office
December 1962 – December 1966
Preceded byChristian Kahl
Succeeded byDale Anderson
Personal details
BornSpiro Theodore Agnew
(1918-11-09)November 9, 1918
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
DiedSeptember 17, 1996(1996-09-17) (aged 77)
Berlin, Maryland, U.S.
Resting placeDulaney Valley Memorial Gardens
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
Judy Judefind (m. 1942)
Children4
Alma materJohns Hopkins University
University of Baltimore School of Law (LL.B.)
SignatureCursive signature in ink
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1941–1945
RankUS-O3 insignia.svg Captain
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsBronze Star Medal ribbon.svg Bronze Star Medal

Spiro Theodore Agnew (/; November 9, 1918 – September 17, 1996) was the 39th Vice President of the United States from 1969 until his resignation in 1973. He is the second and most recent officeholder to resign the position, after John C. Calhoun in 1832.

Agnew was born in Baltimore, to an American-born mother and a Greek immigrant father. He attended Johns Hopkins University, graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law, and entered the United States Army in 1941. Agnew served as an officer during World War II, earning the Bronze Star, and was recalled for service during the Korean War in 1951. He worked as an aide to U.S. Representative James Devereux before he was appointed to the Baltimore County Board of Zoning Appeals in 1957. In 1960, he lost an election for the Baltimore County Circuit Court, but in 1962 was elected Baltimore County Executive. In 1966, Agnew was elected Governor of Maryland, defeating his Democratic opponent George P. Mahoney and independent candidate Hyman A. Pressman.

At the 1968 Republican National Convention, Agnew, who had been asked to place Richard Nixon's name in nomination, was selected as running mate by Nixon and his campaign staff. Agnew's centrist reputation interested Nixon; the law and order stance he had taken in the wake of civil unrest that year appealed to aides such as Pat Buchanan. Agnew made a number of gaffes during the campaign, but his rhetoric pleased many Republicans, and he may have made the difference in several key states. Nixon and Agnew defeated the Democratic ticket of incumbent Vice President Hubert Humphrey and his running mate, Senator Edmund Muskie from Maine. As vice president, Agnew was often called upon to attack the administration's enemies. In the years of his vice presidency, Agnew moved to the right, appealing to conservatives who were suspicious of moderate stances taken by Nixon. In the presidential election of 1972, Nixon and Agnew were re-elected for a second term, defeating Senator George McGovern from South Dakota and former ambassador Sargent Shriver.

Beginning in early 1973, Agnew was investigated by the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland on suspicion of conspiracy, bribery, extortion and tax fraud. Agnew had accepted kickbacks from contractors during his time as Baltimore County Executive and Governor of Maryland. The payments had continued into his time as vice president. On October 10, 1973, after months of maintaining his innocence, Agnew pleaded no contest to a single felony charge of tax evasion and resigned from office. He was replaced by House Minority Leader Gerald Ford. Agnew spent the remainder of his life quietly, rarely making public appearances. He wrote a novel and a memoir defending his actions.

Early life

Family background

A post card showing a cityscape, from slightly after the turn of the 20th century
Downtown Baltimore, at about the time of Agnew's birth in 1918

Spiro Agnew's father was born Theophrastos Anagnostopoulos in about 1877, in the Greek town of Gargalianoi.[1][2] The family may have been involved in olive growing and been impoverished during a crisis in the industry in the 1890s.[3] Anagnostopoulos emigrated to the United States in 1897[4] (some accounts say 1902)[3][5] and settled in Schenectady, New York, where he changed his name to Theodore Agnew and opened a diner.[3] A passionate self-educator, Agnew maintained a lifelong interest in philosophy; one family member recalled that "if he wasn't reading something to improve his mind, he wouldn't read."[6] Around 1908, he moved to Baltimore, where he purchased a restaurant. Here he met William Pollard, who was the city's federal meat inspector. The two became friends; Pollard and his wife Margaret were regular customers of the restaurant. After Pollard died in April 1917, Agnew and Margaret Pollard began a courtship which led to their marriage on December 12, 1917. Spiro Agnew was born 11 months later, on November 9, 1918.[3]

Margaret Pollard, born Margaret Marian Akers in Bristol, Virginia, in 1883, was the youngest in a family of 10 children.[3] As a young adult she moved to Washington, D.C., and found employment in various government offices before marrying Pollard and moving to Baltimore. The Pollards had one son, Roy, who was 10 years old when Pollard died.[3] After the marriage to Agnew in 1917 and Spiro's birth the following year, the new family settled in a small apartment at 226 West Madison Street, near downtown Baltimore.[7]

Childhood, education and early career

A short flight of stairs leads up to a red-brick civic building
The Enoch Pratt Free Library branch in the Forest Park neighborhood of Baltimore

In accordance with his mother's wishes, the infant Spiro was baptized as an Episcopalian, rather than into the Greek Orthodox Church of his father. Nevertheless, Agnew senior was the dominant figure within the family, and a strong influence on his son. When in 1969, after his Vice Presidential inauguration, Baltimore's Greek community endowed a scholarship in Theodore Agnew's name, Spiro Agnew told the gathering: "I am proud to say that I grew up in the light of my father. My beliefs are his."[8]

During the early 1920s, the Agnews prospered. Theodore acquired a larger restaurant, the Piccadilly, and moved the family to a house in the Forest Park northwest section of the city, where Spiro attended Garrison Junior High School and later Forest Park High School. This period of affluence ended with the crash of 1929, and the restaurant closed. In 1931 the family's savings were wiped out when a local bank failed, forcing them to sell the house and move to a small apartment.[9] Agnew later recalled how his father responded to these misfortunes: "He just shrugged it off and went to work with his hands without complaint."[10] Theodore Agnew sold fruit and vegetables from a roadside stall, while the youthful Spiro helped the family's budget with part-time jobs, delivering groceries and distributing leaflets.[9] As he grew up, Spiro was increasingly influenced by his peers, and began to distance himself from his Greek background.[11] He refused his father's offer to pay for Greek language lessons, and preferred to be known by a nickname, "Ted".[8]

In February 1937, Agnew entered The Johns Hopkins University at their new Homewood campus in north Baltimore as a chemistry major. After the first few months, he found the pressure of the academic work increasingly stressful, and was distracted by the family's continuing financial problems and worries about the international situation, in which war seemed likely. In 1939 he decided that his future lay in law rather than chemistry, left Johns Hopkins and began night classes at the University of Baltimore School of Law. To support himself, he took a day job as an insurance clerk with the Maryland Casualty Company at their "Rotunda" building on 40th Street in Roland Park.[12]

During the three years Agnew spent at the company he rose to the position of assistant underwriter.[12] At the office, he met a young filing clerk, Elinor Judefind, known as "Judy". She had grown up in the same part of the city as Agnew, but the two had not previously met. They began dating, became engaged, and were married in Baltimore on May 27, 1942. They had four children.[13]

Other Languages
العربية: سبيرو أغنيو
asturianu: Spiro Agnew
azərbaycanca: Spiro Aqnyu
Bân-lâm-gú: Spiro Agnew
беларуская: Спіра Агню
Bikol Central: Spiro Agnew
Bislama: Spiro Agnew
català: Spiro Agnew
čeština: Spiro Agnew
Cymraeg: Spiro Agnew
Deutsch: Spiro Agnew
Ελληνικά: Σπύρο Άγκνιου
español: Spiro Agnew
euskara: Spiro Agnew
français: Spiro Agnew
Gaeilge: Spiro Agnew
հայերեն: Սպիրո Ագնյու
Ilokano: Spiro Agnew
Bahasa Indonesia: Spiro Agnew
italiano: Spiro Agnew
ქართული: სპირო აგნიუ
Kiswahili: Spiro Agnew
Latina: Spiro Agnew
magyar: Spiro Agnew
Bahasa Melayu: Spiro Agnew
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Spiro Agnew
Nederlands: Spiro Agnew
português: Spiro Agnew
română: Spiro Agnew
русский: Агню, Спиро
Simple English: Spiro Agnew
српски / srpski: Спиро Егњу
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Spiro Agnew
svenska: Spiro Agnew
Türkçe: Spiro Agnew
українська: Спіро Агню
Tiếng Việt: Spiro Agnew
Winaray: Spiro Agnew
Yorùbá: Spiro Agnew