Spiro Agnew was an American politician who served as the 39th Vice President of the United States from 1969 to 1973 under President Richard Nixon. His time in office was marked by his conservative political views and his outspoken criticism of the media and political opponents. However, his tenure was cut short when he resigned from office in 1973 after pleading no contest to charges of tax evasion and bribery related to his time as Governor of Maryland. This event led to the rise of the term “Agnewization”, which refers to the practice of politicians using harsh rhetoric against the media and political opponents.
Spiro Agnew was born on November 9, 1918, in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended Johns Hopkins University and the University of Baltimore Law School. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, he worked as a lawyer in Baltimore and became active in local Republican politics. In 1962, he was elected as the Republican Governor of Maryland, where he implemented a number of conservative policies and gained a reputation for being tough on crime.
In 1968, Agnew was chosen by Richard Nixon as his running mate in the presidential election. The choice of Agnew, who was relatively unknown nationally, was seen as an attempt by Nixon to appeal to the conservative wing of the Republican Party. During the campaign, Spiro Agnew became known for his tough rhetoric and attacks on the media and political opponents. He famously referred to journalists as “nattering nabobs of negativism” and “an effete corps of impudent snobs”.
After Nixon and Spiro Agnew won the election, Spiro Agnew continued to be a controversial figure in national politics. He was a vocal critic of anti-war protesters and civil rights activists, and he opposed busing as a means of desegregating schools. He also spoke out against affirmative action and advocated for a “law and order” approach to crime.
Spiro Agnew’s tenure as Vice President was cut short when he became embroiled in a scandal involving charges of bribery and tax evasion. In 1973, he was charged with accepting bribes from contractors while he was Governor of Maryland, and with failing to report those bribes on his tax returns. Agnew initially denied the charges and refused to resign from office, but he eventually agreed to plead no contest to a single charge of tax evasion and resigned from office on October 10, 1973.
Spiro Agnew’s resignation marked the first time in U.S. history that a Vice President had resigned from office. It also led to the rise of the term “Agnewization”, which refers to the practice of politicians using harsh rhetoric against the media and political opponents. In the years since Agnew’s resignation, many politicians have used similar tactics, including President Donald Trump, who frequently attacks the media and political opponents using harsh language.
After leaving office, Spiro Agnew retired from politics and worked as a business consultant. He remained a controversial figure, with some people seeing him as a victim of a political witch hunt, while others saw him as a corrupt politician who got what he deserved.
Agnew died on September 17, 1996, at the age of 77. Despite his controversial legacy, he remains an important figure in U.S. political history, and his tenure as Vice President continues to be studied and analyzed by historians and political scientists.