Artist Catalog

Spiro Agnew

Born: November 9 1918
Born in: Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
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  • politician

Spiro Agnew

Spiro Theodore "Ted" Agnew (; November 9, 1918 – September 17, 1996) was an American politician who served as the 39th Vice President of the United States from 1969 to 1973, under President Richard Nixon.

Agnew was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to an American mother and a Greek immigrant father. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Baltimore School of Law, and was then drafted into the United States Army in 1941. Agnew served as an officer during the Second World War and later being recalled for service during the Korean War in 1950. He worked as an aide for 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 City Circuit Court, but in 1962 was elected Baltimore County Executive. In 1966, Agnew was elected the 55th Governor of Maryland, defeating his Democratic opponent George P. Mahoney. He was the first Greek-American to hold the position, serving between 1967 and 1969.

At the 1968 Republican National Convention, Agnew, who had earlier been asked to place Richard Nixon's name in nomination, was selected in private by Nixon and his campaign staff. He was then presented to the convention delegates for nomination for Vice President and ran alongside Nixon in the Presidential Election of 1968. Nixon and Agnew defeated the incumbent Vice President, Hubert Humphrey and Senator Edmund Muskie from Maine. In 1972, Nixon and Agnew were reelected for a second term, defeating Senator George McGovern from South Dakota and Ambassador Sargent Shriver from Maryland.

In 1973, Agnew was investigated by the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland on charges of extortion, tax fraud, bribery, and conspiracy. He was charged with having accepted bribes totaling more than $100,000 while holding office as Baltimore County Executive, Governor of Maryland, and Vice President. On October 10 that same year, Agnew was allowed to plead no contest to a single charge that he had failed to report $29,500 of income received in 1967, with the condition that he resign the office of Vice President. Nixon later replaced Agnew by appointing House Minority Leader Gerald Ford as Vice President. The following year, when Nixon resigned from the White House due to the Watergate scandal, Ford ascended to the presidency.

Agnew was the second Vice President in United States history to resign, the other being John C. Calhoun, and the only one to do so because of criminal charges. Nearly ten years after leaving office, Agnew paid the state of Maryland nearly $270,000 as a result of a civil suit that stemmed from the bribery allegations. In describing Agnew, Garry Wills borrows the backhanded compliment once paid Coolidge by H.L. Mencken: "No man ever came to market with less seductive goods, and no man ever got a better price for what he had to offer." Agnew is often ranked among the worst Vice Presidents in the history of the United States.
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