Spiro Agnew (originally Anagnostopoulos), the son of a Greek immigrant, was born in Baltimore on November 9th, 1918.
Spiro Agnew’s father was born Theophrastos Anagnostopoulos in about 1877, in the Greek town of Gargalianoi. The family may have been involved in olive growing and been impoverished during a crisis in the industry in the 1890s. Anagnostopoulos emigrated to the United States in 1897 (some accounts say 1902) and settled in Schenectady, New York, where he changed his name to Theodore Agnew and opened a diner. 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.”
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.
Spiro Agnew attended John Hopkins University before serving in the United States Army during the Second World War. After the war, Agnew attended the University of Baltimore and graduated with a law degree in 1947. A member of the Republican Party Agnew was county executive of Baltimore County before being elected governor of Maryland in 1967. During his period of office, he introduced a graduated income-tax and an effective anti-pollution law.
In 1968 Richard Nixon selected Agnew as his vice presidential candidate. After the defeat of Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic Party candidate, Agnew developed a reputation as a hard-liner against anti-Vietnam War protesters.
Freedom of speech is useless
without freedom of thought.
Agnew was re-elected as vice-president in 1972 but the following year it was announced he was being investigated for extortion, bribery, and income-tax violations while governor of Maryland.
After months of maintaining his innocence, Agnew pleaded no contest to a single felony charge of tax evasion and resigned from office. Nixon replaced him with House Republican leader Gerald Ford.
Agnew spent the remainder of his life quietly, rarely making public appearances. He became a business consultant and in 1980 published his autobiography, Go Quietly or Else.
Spiro Agnew died in Berlin, Maryland, on September 17th, 1996.