SPIRO AGNEW Biography - Polititians


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Name: Spiro Theodore Agnew                                                               
Born: 9 November 1918 Towson, Maryland                                                   
Died: 17 September 1996 Berlin, Maryland                                                 
Spiro Theodore Agnew (November 9, 1918 - September 17, 1996) was the thirty-ninth         
Vice President of the United States, serving under President Richard M. Nixon,           
and the fifty-fifth Governor of Maryland. He is noted for his quick rise in               
politics - going in six years from County Executive to Vice President. He                 
resigned as Vice President in 1973 after he was charged with tax evasion.                 
Spiro Agnew was born in the Towson section of Baltimore County, Maryland to               
Theodore Spiros Agnew (a Greek immigrant who shortened his name from                     
Anagnostopoulos when he moved to the USA) and Margaret Akers, a native of                 
Agnew attended Forest Park Senior High School in Baltimore before enrolling in           
the Johns Hopkins University in 1937. He studied chemistry at Hopkins for three           
years before joining the U.S. Army and serving in Europe during World War II. He         
was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in France and Germany.                       
Before leaving for Europe, Agnew worked at an insurance company where he met             
Elinor Judefind, known as Judy. Agnew married her on May 27, 1942. They                   
eventually had four children: Pamela, James Rand, Susan, and Kimberly.                   
Upon his return from the war, Agnew transferred to the evening program at the             
University of Baltimore School of Law. He studied law at night while working as           
a grocer and as an insurance salesman. In 1947, Agnew received his LL.B. (later           
amended to Juris Doctor) and moved to the suburbs to begin practicing law. He             
passed the bar in 1949.                                                                   
Agnew, raised as a Democrat, switched parties and became a Republican. During             
the 1950s, he aided U.S. Congressman James Devereux in four successive winning           
election bids, before entering politics himself in 1957 upon his appointment to           
the Baltimore County Board of Zoning Appeals by Democratic Baltimore County               
Executive Michael J. Birmingham. In 1960, he made his first elective run for             
office as a candidate for Judge of the Circuit Court, finishing last in a five-person     
contest. The following year, the new Democratic Baltimore County Executive,               
Christian H. Kahl, dropped him from the Zoning Board, with Agnew loudly                   
protesting, thereby gaining name recognition.                                             
In 1962 Agnew ran for election as Baltimore County Executive, seeking office in           
a predominantly Democratic county that had seen no Republican elected to that             
position in the twentieth century, with only one (Roger B. Hayden) earning               
victory after he left. Running as a reformer and Republican outsider, he took             
advantage of a bitter split in the Democratic Party and was elected. Agnew               
backed and signed an ordinance outlawing discrimination in some public                   
accommodations, among the first laws of this kind in the United States.                   
Agnew ran for the position of Governor of Maryland in 1966. In this                       
overwhelmingly Democratic state, he was elected after the Democratic nominee,             
George P. Mahoney, a Baltimore paving contractor and perennial candidate running         
on an anti-integration platform, narrowly won the Democratic gubernatorial               
primary out of a crowded slate of eight candidates, trumping early favorite               
Carlton R. Sickles. Coming on the heels of the recently-passed federal Fair               
Housing Act of 1965, Mahoney's campaign embraced the slogan "your home is your           
castle". Many Democrats opposed to segregation then crossed party lines to give           
Agnew the governorship by 82,000 votes.                                                   
As governor, Agnew worked with the Democratic legislature to pass tax and                 
judicial reforms, as well as tough anti-pollution laws. Projecting an image of           
racial moderation, Agnew signed the state's first open-housing laws and                   
succeeded in getting the repeal of an anti-miscegenation law. However, during             
the riots that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in the             
Spring of 1968, Agnew angered many African-American leaders by lecturing them             
about their constituents in stating, "I call on you to publicly repudiate all             
black racists. This, so far, you have been unwilling to do."                             
Spiro Agnew is sworn in as vice-president in 1969. From left to right: Lyndon B.         
Johnson, Richard Nixon, Everett Dirksen, Spiro Agnew (with hand raised), Hubert           
Agnew's moderate image, immigrant background and success in a traditionally               
Democratic state made him an attractive running mate for Nixon in 1968. In line           
with what would later be called Nixon's "Southern Strategy," Agnew was selected           
as a candidate for being sufficiently from the South to attract Southern                 
moderate voters, yet not as identified with the Deep South, which could have             
turned off Northern centrists come election time.                                         
His vice presidency was the highest-ranking United States political office ever           
reached by either a Greek-American citizen or a Marylander. Agnew's nomination           
was supported by many conservatives within the Republican Party and by Nixon.             
But a small band of delegates started shouting "Spiro Who?" and tried to place           
George W. Romney's name in nomination. Nixon's wishes prevailed and Agnew went           
from his first election as County Executive to Vice President in six years—one         
of the fastest rises in U.S. political history.                                           
Agnew was a protege of Nelson Rockefeller, then governor of New York State and a         
head of the moderate wing of the Republican Party. Rockefeller was Nixon's chief         
opponent during the 1968 primary season. Going into the 1968 GOP convention               
neither Nixon nor Rockefeller had enough votes to clinch the nomination, but             
Nixon had nearly enough. He invited Rockefeller to his hotel room and proposed           
that Rockefeller throw his support to Nixon in exchange for naming the Vice               
Presidential nominee. The only condition was that Rockefeller could not name             
himself. Rockefeller named Agnew.