October 10, 1973: Spiro Agnew resigns. Agnew was born in 1918 in Baltimore, Maryland. His father had emigrated from Greece to the US and changed the family name from Anagnostopoulos to Agnew. He married a widowed Virginian woman, Margaret, who had a son from her previous marriage. Agnew went to Johns Hopkins University where he studied chemistry. He was drafted into the US Army in 1941 and was a commissioned officer serving with the 10th Armored Division. He was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for his service in France and Germany. He married while overseas. After the war he returned to the University of Baltimore School of Law and studied at night while working as a grocer and insurance salesman during the day. He passed the bar in 1949. In 1950, he was recalled to service for the Korean War.
He began his political career at the local level. He switched from the Democrats to the Republican Party in the 1950s. His political career expanded past the local level and by 1966 he ran for Governor of Maryland. Maryland, a heavily Democrat state, voted for the Republican candidate after George Mahoney’s stance on anti-integration did not keep him from winning the Democratic primary. Agnew won by 82,000 votes. During his time in office, he worked for tax and judicial reforms as well as tough anti-pollution laws. He signed the state’s first open housing laws and effectively ended anti-miscegenation laws.
Agnew was a moderate Republican from a Democrat state which made him attractive as a Vice Presidential candidate for the 1968 race to the White House by Richard Nixon. Agnew went from his first election as County Executive to Vice President in just six years, one of the fastest rises in US political history. His scathing critiques of opponents was still in play during the 1972 election but he mellowed afterwards, hoping to gain the 1976 Presidential nomination. The 1972 election brought it own troubles and soon the Watergate Scandal was in full swing. In April of 1973, with Watergate breaking into the news, Agnew was the choice of 35% of the Republican voters for the next election.
Allegations of tax evasion surfaced. He was accused of accepting bribes in excess of $100,000 while governor of Maryland. He was fined $10,000 (the amount of taxes not paid) and given three years of probation. He also lost his job, resigning on this day. He was the second VP to do so, but unlike John Calhoun, he resigned in disgrace. He eventually paid $268,482 to the Maryland State Treasury, the amount taken in bribes, as stated by Banshaf’s Bandits from George Washington University. After leaving politics, he wrote both a memoir and a novel (about a Vice President who was destroyed by his own ambition). He died of leukemia on September 17, 1996 at the age of 77.
An intellectual is a man who doesn’t know how to park a bike.
The American people should be made aware of the trend toward monopolization of the great public information vehicles and the concentration of more and more power over public opinion in fewer and fewer hands.
The lessons of the past are ignored and obliterated in a contemporary antagonism known as the generation gap.
Some newspapers are fit only to line the bottom of bird cages. – all from Spiro T. Agnew
Also on this day: Don’t Be Snookered – In 1865, a new type of billiard ball was patented.
Water – In 1913, Gamboa Dike was blown and the Panama Canal was opened for business.
TNT – In 1933, the first airline sabotage blows a plane out of the sky.
Mystery – In 19 AD, Germanicus Julius Caesar died mysteriously.