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Lot 3: Agnew States that "Democracy is sustained [when] civil rights are balanced by civil responsibilities"
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
26 October 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: Spiro Agnew on Democracy: “democracy is sustained through one great premise: the premise that civil rights are balanced by civil responsibilities” ********** AGNEW, SPIRO T. (1918-1996). Richard Nixon’s first VP whose 1973 resignation led to Gerald Ford’s vice presidency and, later, presidency. Signed souvenir typescript. (“Spiro T. Agnew”). 1p. 4to. N.p., N.d. ********** “Intellectual and spiritual leaders hailed the cause of civil rights and gave little thought to where the civil disobedience road might end. But defiance of the law, even for the best reasons, opens a tiny hole in the dike and soon a flood… And while no thinking person denies that social injustice exists; no thinking person can condone any group’s, for any reason, taking justice into its own hands. Once this is permitted, democracy dies; for democracy is sustained through one great premise: the premise that civil rights are balanced by civil responsibilities.” ********** In 1972, Richard Nixon chose Agnew, a moderate governor from Maryland, as his vice presidential running mate. Having served in public office only a short time, Agnew was a relative unknown whose self-confidence made him popular. On the campaign trail, he defended Nixon’s position on the war in Vietnam and criticized anti-war protesters. With Nixon’s landslide defeat of George McGovern, Agnew became the first Greek American to serve in that office. However, his fall from grace came quickly when, in October 1973, he resigned after pleading guilty to charges of tax evasion and money laundering. Agnew was only the second American vice president to resign his office (the first being Andrew Jackson’s Vice President John C. Calhoun who resigned to take a seat in the Senate) and the first to resign because of criminal charges. In his 1980 memoir, Agnew insinuated that Nixon had threatened his life unless he resigned and that he was sacrificed to divert attention from the Watergate scandal that eventually undid Nixon’s political career as well. ********** Agnew’s resignation impacted more than just his own political ambitions. Following the procedures laid out in the 25th Amendment, House Minority Leader Gerald Ford was nominated and confirmed by the Senate as the country’s new VP. Meanwhile, Nixon was embroiled in the Watergate scandal, and despite compelling evidence, continued to assert his ignorance of the affair, refusing to cooperate until he finally resigned from the nation’s highest office on August 9, 1974. Ford succeeded him, becoming the only person ever to serve as president and vice president without having been elected to either office. ********** Our signed typescript is an excerpt from Robert Marsh’s 1971 biography Agnew, the Unexamined Man: A Political Profile. Marsh was a manager of Agnew’s gubernatorial campaign and went on to serve as Special Assistant for Legislative Affairs to President George W. Bush and as manager of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. ********** Neatly signed in blue ink with some light creasing and wear and in very good condition.