Spiro Agnew Resignation Letter as Vice President – Initialed and Annotated by Henry Kissinger


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Spiro Agnew was the 39th Vice President of the United States from 1969 until his resignation in 1973. He is the second and most recent VP to resign the position, the other being John C. Calhoun in 1832. Unlike Calhoun, Agnew resigned as a result of a scandal.

In 1973, Agnew was investigated by the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland on suspicion of criminal conspiracy, bribery, extortion and tax fraud. Agnew took kickbacks from contractors during his time as Baltimore County Executive and Governor of Maryland. The payments had continued into his time as vice president; they had nothing to do with the Watergate scandal, in which he was not implicated. After months of maintaining his innocence, Agnew pleaded no contest to a single felony charge of tax evasion and resigned from office.

On October 9, Agnew visited Nixon at the White House and informed the President of his impending resignation.

On October 10, 1973, Agnew appeared before the federal court in Baltimore, and pleaded nolo contendere (no contest) to one felony charge, tax evasion, for the year 1967. Richardson agreed that there would be no further prosecution of Agnew, and released a 40-page summary of the evidence. Agnew was fined $10,000 and placed on three years’ unsupervised probation. At the same time, Agnew submitted a formal letter of resignation to the Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, and sent a letter to Nixon stating he was resigning in the best interest of the nation.

While in federal court, Agnew himself orchestrated the details of his resignation.  He was informed that the Attorney General would honor his agreement, at which time Agnew authorized his resignation to be handed into Secretary of State Kissinger.  One of Agnew’s attorneys, Judah Best, went into the judge’s chambers and called Kissinger’s office in the White House and stated:  “You are authorized to deliver into the secretary of state the instrument of resignation.”

Presented to Kissinger was a one-sentence official resignation, dated October 10, 1973 on “The Vice President Washington” stationery.  It was addressed:  “The Honorable Henry A. Kissinger / The Secretary of State / Washington, D.C. 20520” and simply stated:

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I hereby resign the Office of Vice President of the United States, effective immediately.


Spiro T. Agnew (signed)

The resignation was officially acknowledged and accepted by Kissinger at 2:05PM.

Henry Kissinger, well aware of the historical significance of the events transpiring, made a copy of the resignation letter and in ink in his own hand, noted:  “1405 HK”.  The original letter, by federal law, was to be sent to the National Archives for preservation.

This photocopy, with Kissinger’s notation, was sent to Agnew for his records.  It would remain with his family for 40+ years after that historic day.  This is its first public offering of it for sale.

The original resignation letter is lost to history.  As noted in the New York Times of November 2, 1974:

The spokesman for the State Department, John F. King, said yesterday that the letter of resignation submitted by Spiro T. Agnew, the former Vice President, was missing and that it might have been stolen.  An official investigation is under way into the disappearance of the possibly purloined letter, said Mr. King, who acknowledged that it could have great value on the open market.  Several Government agencies are in on the search for the letter, which was handed to Secretary of State Kissinger on Oct. 10, 1973.   According to Mr. King, its disappearance was noted shortly after the former President, Richard M. Nixon, submitted his own resignation letter to Mr. Kissinger last August.  Embarrassed officials of the National Archives had to report then that they could not find the original of the Agnew letter, although there were plenty of copies available.  It had been assumed that the original letter was sent from Mr. Kissinger’s office to the Archives, to be part of the historical record.

To be certain, the letter offered here is not the original letter submitted by Agnew to Kissinger that is assumed stolen and lost to history.  This document is a direct copy of that letter, with authentic ink docketing by Kissinger, certainly within mere moments of receiving the actual resignation letter.

This historically-significant document has never before been offered for sale.