On October 10, 1973, following months of pressure and scandal, Vice President Spiro Agnew turned in his letter of resignation to President Nixon (who was soon to follow him) becoming only the second vice president to resign.* Michigan representative Gerald R. Ford took his place as vice president on December 6, 1973.
Agnew began his political life as a liberal Democrat and ended it as a law-and-order Republican who pleaded nolo contendere (no contest) to charges of tax fraud. He once called the media "nattering nabobs of negativism"** and found a political base with both social conservatives and what would later be called Reagan Democrats.
He rose quickly from a mere county executive of Baltimore County in 1962 to the Republican candidate for governor of Maryland in 1966. The Democrats nominated a race-baiting candidate and Agnew, running to the left of him, won becoming one of the first Republican governors south of the Mason-Dixon line since the Civil War. Just two years later, Nixon chose him to be his far-right, hippie-bashing, anti-intellectual attack dog - a role he (along with speechwriters William Safire and Pat Buchanan) clearly relished.
In fact, he was a hero to many and the subject of one of the first fads of the decade: T-shirts and other products sporting his image were mass-produced (check your local thrift store or our eBay links below and to the right). To his credit, Agnew refused royalties for merchandise with his likeness and instead asked that any proceeds go to aid families of American POWs. As you will see later, the "royalties" he chose to keep came from far deeper pockets.