The Agnew Funeral.
Today we can finally bury, and lay to rest, the slander that Spiro Agnew, Vice President under Richard Nixon, did not meet the two citizen parent standard defined in Minor v. Happersett.
I was at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. yesterday and today double checking the information I found at Princeton’s amazing Firestone library earlier this week. Before that, I was in Baltimore where I received a couple of important clues.
A few weeks ago, I was researching this issue at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore, only blocks from where Spiro Agnew grew up. I asked the head reference librarian to help me track down the 1910 census. I was hoping it would provide more information than the 1920 and 1930 census info, which contain a serious discrepancy. The 1920 census indicates Spiro’s father was not naturalized by 1920, two years after Spiro was born, which, if true, would mean Agnew was born to an alien. This has been alleged as precedent for Obama, who was born of an alien father.
The 1930 census indicates that Spiro’s father Theodore had been naturalized by then. It was also common knowledge that the 1920 census info contradicts a World War I draft registration card on file for Theodore Agnew dating back to September 12, 1918, which indicates he was naturalized just prior to Spiro’s birth on November 9, 1918.
In Baltimore, the librarian told me that Agnew’s father lived in Schenectady, N.Y. in 1910 and that I should check the census for that city. He also warned me that the name might be spelled wrong so I should try various spellings. This turned out to be quite prophetic.
At Princeton, I found catalogue records for many biographies on Spiro Agnew, but most of them were not available on the shelves. I had to order them from a special annex and it took 24 hours for them to arrive. Meanwhile, I began Googling these biographies and was able to unearth a very relevant fact from the snippet view at Google for, “What Makes Spiro Run: The Life And Times Of Spiro Agnew“, by Joseph Albright (published by Dodd, Mead & Company New York, 1972). The snippet told me something I did not know, that Spiro’s father first shortened his full Greek name to Theodore Anagnost, not Agnew.
I then plugged the name “Theodore Anagnost” into the database at Ancestry.com and searched the Schenectady N.Y. area. Direct hit. And the Md. Historical Society librarian was spot on, the name was listed on the 1910 census, and Ancestry.com had it catalogued as both Theodore Anagnost as well as Amagnost. It clearly shows that Theodore entered the U.S. in 1902 and that he was naturalized by the time this census was taken in 1910. It also contains the correct year of birth, 1878, and it includes the other members of his family.
The next day I returned to Princeton and the biographies were waiting for me. Two of them confirmed all of the above and more. The Albright book states that Spiro Agnew’s father was born on September 12, 1878, named Theofraste Spiro Anagnostopoulos. He entered the United States on September 19, 1902 through the port of Hoboken, N.J. But before we discuss more from that book, separate relevant details stated in, “Spiro Agnew’s America” by Theo Lippman, Jr. (W. W. Norton & Co. Inc., New York, 1972), must come first.
Lippman’s book states that Theodore Anagnost declared his intention to naturalize in 1906, and that he submitted his petition for naturalization in 1907. The declaration and the petition are two different documents.
Back to the Albright book now, and he indicates that Theodore had become a United States citizen in 1909 and then changed his name again in 1911 to Theodore Agnew. Albright’s book gives a lot of detail on the genealogy of Spiro’s parents.
Here is a PDF of the relevant pages from both books.
Albright’s book also includes important details which corroborate the accuracy of the 1910 census regarding other household members who were included in that census and who were also included in the book. Albright mentions Theodore’s brother George, his girl cousin Angeliki, and a male cousin who had anglicized his Greek last name to Lambert. All of these people are listed in the 1910 census right under Theodore Anagnost, and all of these people are mentioned on the same page in Albright’s book as having lived together in Schenectady.
I also tracked down a high res image of the World War I draft card which is right next to brother George’s on the microfilm at the National Archives. They both registered for the draft on the same day, Theo’s birthday, September 12, 1918. Furthermore, both of them were listed as having been naturalized.
I also took a hi-res scan at Nara of the 1920 census. If you look a few spots down from Theodore Agnew’s family entry, you will see the entry for George Agnew’s family. It’s obvious now that many mistakes were made. Both men are listed as having entered the U.S. in 1887. That is absolutely wrong. Furthermore, it lists both men as aliens, and it lists their wives as aliens. This is also not accurate according to the 1910 census, the 1918 draft cards, and two thoroughly researched biographies from Spiro Agnew’s heyday.
Spiro Agnew was born in the U.S. of two parents who were citizens. Therefore, he was a “natural born Citizen”.
Leo Donofrio, Esq.
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