Spiro Theodore Agnew, born (November 9, 1918, died September 17, 1996).
His name at birth was Spiro Anagnostopoulos.
Agnew was the 39th Vice President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1973 under President Richard M. Nixon. Also, before that, he was the governor of the State of Maryland from 1967-1969.
He studied chemistry as an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University, and later got his law degree from another Baltimore institution.
Agnew is most famous for two main things, the lesser of which is his use of the phrase "nattering nabobs of negativism" in reference to the press, but his now-famous speechwriter, William Safire, claims to have written it for him. The other, of course, is his disgraced resignation from the Vice Presidency amidst charges of tax evasion; more on this below.
Drafted into the Army to serve in World War II, Agnew worked at an insurance firm when he returned. There he met, and in 1942, married Elinor Isabel Judefind.
Agnew won a Bronze Star for his service in France and Germany during the War. He returned to school on the GI Bill, and received his law degree in 1947 from the what is now known at the University of Baltimore School of Law, then the University of Baltimore Law School.
After practicing law for a Baltimore firm, he established his own practice in Towson, Maryland.
Agnew was elected as chief executive of Baltimore County, Maryland in 1962 as a reformer and Republican outsider in a predominantly Democratic county. Democrats also helped elect him Governor of Maryland in 1966 when the Democratic primary selected an opponent of racial integration as that Party's candidate.
As Maryland's Governor, he was praised for backing tax and judicial reforms, but his posture on racial segregation was very controversial.
In 1968, students in Bowie,1 Maryland, at Bowie State College, now Bowie State University, protested disruptively at that College's administration building. Agnew dispatched the State police to end the protests immediately, a controversy ensued, as this was viewed by many people as a dismissal of the students' complaint. The students went to Maryland's capital, Annapolis, to protest. Agnew responded by ordering them arrested. Furthermore, seemingly in punishment, he (temporarily) closed Bowie State College altogether! It was as if he was saying, 'If you think it's bad now, just watch what I could do to you people.'
Then, later that same year (1968), when riots broke out in Baltimore following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Agnew held a meeting of black community leaders and reprimanded them for not doing enough to stop the rioting. Agnew was not a very likeable guy, it seems.
Agnew's Resignation from the Vice Presidency
On October 10, 1973, Vice President Spiro Agnew became the second Vice President to resign from office in the middle of his term.2 He resigned, just after pleading nolo contendere to a charge of criminal tax evasion. The prosecutor in the case was Republican U.S. Attorney for Maryland George Beall. The tax evasion charge was not all he was accused of doing, but the larger charge of accepting bribes (while Maryland's governor), was never fully prosecuted per se.
He received a sentence of $10,000 in fines and probation for three years. Of course, his career in public life was over at this point; he was soon disbarred (i.e., disallowed from practicing law anymore).
Agnew died from undiscovered leukemia in 1996, and he is buried in Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens just outside of Baltimore, Maryland.
1. pronounced 'BOO-whee', NOT 'BOW-y', nor 'BOH-wee'
2. The first was John Caldwell Calhoun, who resigned while serving under Andrew Jackson, but his circumstances were different; Calhoun resigned upon direct election to a Senate seat.
- United States Senate web site, at http://permanent.access.gpo.gov/lps12426/www.senate.gov/learning/stat_vp39.html
- Rich, Eric. "DiBiagio Will Step Down As U.S. Attorney for Md.: Prosecutor's Tenure Marked by Tumult." The Washington Post. Online edition. 4 Dec 2004.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiro_Agnew, and in compliance therewith, since this might be considered a derivitave work (though I have not copied it verbatim), I include the following notice: All text above is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
- Rotten.com bio of Spiro Agnew, at http://www.rotten.com/library/bio/usa/spiro-t-agnew/