Spiro Theodore Agnew was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 9, 1918. His father was a Greek immigrant, and his mother a widow from Virginia. After attending Baltimore public schools, in 1937, Spiro Agnew enrolled at Johns Hopkins University, where he studied chemistry. Three years later, he transferred to the University of Baltimore School of Law, and started attending night classes there. While Agnew was in law school, he earned a living with a day job at an insurance company.
In late 1941, Spiro T. Agnew was drafted into the peacetime Selective Service System. After completing his training as a tank officer at Fort Knox, in 1942, Agnew married his law school classmate, Elinor Isabel Judefind, nicknamed Judy. Not long after, Agnew was drafted into the U.S. Army to fight in World War II, ultimately earning a Bronze Star for his service.
In 1946, Agnew was able to go back to the University of Baltimore Law School through the GI Bill of Rights. That same year, his wife gave birth to the first of the couple's four children.
Spiro Agnew completed his law degree in 1947. Soon after, he began practicing at a Baltimore legal firm, and eventually started a private practice in nearby Towson. Agnew had just purchased a house in the suburbs when, in 1950, he was recalled to active duty in the Korean War. Upon his return to Baltimore, Agnew became active in local politics. In 1957, he was appointed to served on the Baltimore County Board of Zoning Appeals. In 1962, he was elected the first Republican county executive of the 20th century. Four years later, he won election to the Maryland governorship.
In 1969, Agnew was elected the 39th vice president of the United States, serving under Richard Nixon's Republican administration. During his term, he became known for his outspoken speeches criticizing protesters of the Vietnam War, and for accusing Democrats of being "soft on Communism."
In 1973, Agnew was accused of having committed extortion, bribery and income-tax violations while in office as Maryland's governor. Initially, Agnew refused to resign if indicted, stating that he would only leave his office by impeachment. Nixon was also in danger of being impeached, as a result of the Watergate scandal. When Agnew was indicted, his lawyers plea-bargained with a federal judge on his behalf; he ultimately agreed to resign on October 10, 1973.
Forced to leave politics, Agnew became an international trade consultant. He died of leukemia on September 17, 1996, at the age of 77, in Berlin, Maryland.