Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Vice Presidents 5- VP Museum

  Usually in these Vice President posts I show my most recent progress on my quest to visit the gravesites of all of the Vice Presidents. This post will have a little more to it. Over the course of the the last year and a half I did visit the gravesite of one new VP and got as close as I could get to another one. I also got to shake hands with a future VP during the 2016 campaign season and finally I got to visit the Vice President Museum in Huntington, Indiana. All these VP related adventures will be covered in this post.

#39 Spiro Agnew

Vice President under Richard Nixon 1969 -1973

   I visited the final resting place of Spiro Agnew during my 2016 summer vacation. We started the day in DC touring Ford's Theater and the U.S. Capital Building. We then headed to the Baltimore area where the first stop was Agnew's gravesite north of the city. Afterwords we went to Fort McHenry in time to take part the evening flag lowering. Then it was dinner at Chap's Pit Beef. A pretty awesome day!

    Spiro Agnew was born in Baltimore to a Greek born father and an American born mother. He attended Johns Hopkins University and the University of Baltimore School of Law. After the Pearl Harbor attack he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, as well as other battles, eventually earning the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Bronze Star.

   After the War he returned to his law studies. He graduated law school and was admitted to the bar in 1947. He then opened up his own law practice, which he struggled to make successful. In 1951, he was called back into the service when the Korean War was heating up.

    Agnew failed at several attempts to gain local political office. But in 1962 he won election to become Baltimore County Executive. In the mostly Blue State of Maryland, Agnew was now the highest ranked Republican in the State. This opened the door for Agnew to run as Governor of Maryland 4 years later.

    In the Governor's election in 1966, Agnew won when the Democrat vote was split by a 3rd party candidate. Then in 1968, Richard Nixon chose Agnew as his running mate. Agnew being a liberal Republican from a Blue State was thought to be a nice balance of the ticket with Nixon.

   The Nixon Agnew ticket won in a landslide in 1968, and again even better in 1972's reelection. Having once served as Vice President himself, Nixon didn't want to give Agnew the same, boring ceremonial duties that former VP's had. So Nixon gave Agnew an office in the West Wing. The first VP to get an office there. But as the Nixon Administration developed, Nixon chose to rely mostly on an inner circle of advisors, leaving Agnew behind.  Accusations that Agnew took bribes from contractors as County Executive and Governor surfaced. Agnew claimed his innocence, but eventually signed a plee bargain that had him resign the office of Vice President, becoming only the 2nd VP in history to do so, the 1st being John C. Calhoun. House Minority leader Gerald Ford was chosen by Nixon to replace Agnew. Less then a year later President Nixon resigned due to the Watergate scandal, making Ford President. So if Agnew was never persuaded to resign, he would of become our 38th President instead of Ford.

    Agnew lived a fairly low key retirement and died in 1996.


VP Agnew's unassuming grave marker

VP Agnew and I

     Being interested in history and politics I usually attend campaign events for both sides when the candidates are nearby. I saw our current Vice President Mike Pence twice during the 2016 campaign season. The 1st time was near Toledo in a small rec center gym. I got to shake his hand and exchange a few brief words. The 2nd time was at a much larger event in Cleveland in which Trump was also there.

Soon to be VP Pence takes the stage with his daughter in Rossford, near Toledo

Pence with my Congressman Bob Latta

Pence and I

Pence and I

Pence in Cleveland


#41 Nelson Rockefeller

Vice President under Gerald Ford 1974-1977

   Ask anyone who has set out to visit the gravesites of all of the Vice Presidents, and they will tell you that the gravesite of Vice President Nelson Rockefeller is the White Whale. Mostly because it is on private property and the general public is not permitted to see it. The Rockefeller family cemetery is right next to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York. However there is a fence dividing the 2 cemeteries. I've heard that years ago when it was just a chain link fence dividing the cemeteries that you could see Rockefeller's gravesite through the fence behind the tomb of Walter Chrysler. But now a wooden fence also borders the divide, making it impossible to see from there. And so when I visited Sleepy Hollow on my 2017 summer vacation I had to go the Chrysler's Tomb and see what I could see. Which proved to be not much. So until the Rockefeller family allows public access to the cemetery, I guess I can claim that I "half" visited Rockefeller's gravesite.

   Nelson Rockefeller was born in Maine in 1908 and went to school in New York City as he grew up. He was the 2nd of 5 sons of John D. Rockefeller Jr. Coming from such a wealthy family had it's advantages. He worked in many avenues of his families businesses as a young adult. As he got older he worked some lower level government jobs in the administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

   Rockefeller left Washington in 1956 to focus on New York State politics. This lead to him running for Governor of New York in 1958. He won the election decisively, and went on to win reelection 3 times in 1962, 1966 and 1970. Rockefeller was the leader in the Eastern Establishment branch of the Republican party. The term "Rockefeller Republican" is still used today.

    He was a successful Governor who sought the Republican Nomination for President in 1960, 1964 and 1968. He came closest in 1964, emerging as the early front runner. But his recent affair, divorce and remarriage hurt him in the poles as Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater would go on to secure the parties nomination.

    When Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973, Rockefeller was on the short list of replacements along with California Governor Ronald Reagan and House Minority leader Gerald Ford. Ford got the appointment, and then less then a year later when President Nixon resigned, Ford was elevated to the Presidency. With the VP slot open once again, Ford chose Rockefeller to be his Vice President. When Ford ran for reelection in 1976, Rockefeller chose not to be on the ticket. He remains the last Vice President to not seek reelection.

    Sadly, Nelson Rockefeller had a short retirement from politics. He died unexpectedly on January 29, 1979 of a heart attack.

Tomb of Walter Chrysler at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, NY. Rockefeller is buried behind the fence, behind the tomb

The fence that is blocking my view of VP Rockefeller's final resting place.

Picture I took over the fence. The brush is heavy, also blocking the view.

As close as I can legally get to the final resting place of VP Rockefeller.

A picture I found of Rockefeller's gravestone

      Many years ago I heard of the Vice Presidents Museum in Huntington, Indiana. Huntington is the hometown of George H. W. Bush's VP Dan Quayle. It's also only about 2 hours away from where I live. The problem is that they are only open Monday through Friday. So a weekend day trip there has always been out of the question. I finally found an opening when I got the day before Thanksgiving 2017 off of work. I called to verify that they would be open and threw together a little day trip with my kids.

The Quayle Vice Presidential Learning Center. My kids all recently got Amazon Kindals for there birthday's. So they have really been exploring the camera's on there Kindals. Klo and Nick thought the sign was worth taking a picture of, while Grant decided taking a picture of me, taking a picture of the building was more worth while.

They have displays on every Vice President. The largest display is for Huntington's favorite son Dan Quayle.

1st VP John Adams

Every VP gets an information board like this on there display. Elbridge Gerry was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and namesake of the political strategy "Gerrymandering". He was also the first non President VP grave that I visited back in 2010.


Hubert Humphrey glassware marked "HHH"

James Buchanan's VP John C. Brekinridge ran for President in 1860. After he lost, he became a Confederate General.

Next to each of Indiana's 6 VP's is this "Indiana's Six" logo. Indiana has the 2nd most VP's of any state. Next to New York.

My kids

A letter written by Coolidge's VP Charles Dawes

Quayle and I

My kids and Quayle

Quayle Inaugural Bible

The day after election day in both 1988 and 1992, Quayle gave a speech to his home town by standing on a chair in his favorite diner Nick's Kitchen. This is the chair that he stood on after losing reelection in 1992.


Bush 41 Administration picture with autographs.

The Quayle's with President Reagan

Al Gore

Dick Cheney

Joe Biden

Mike Pence

After the museum we got some lunch at Quayle's favorite hometown place Nick's Kitchen

It turned out to by the best pork tenderloin I've ever had

The nearby courthouse is the site where George Bush and Dan Quayle had their first campaign event during there successful 1988 Presidential campaign

My kids

VP Quayle's boyhood home.

Quayle's boyhood home and I

Quayle's boyhood school

    That's it for now. I still have 3.5 VP graves to visit.
- Daniel Tompkins  New York, New York
-John Nance Garner Uvalde, Texas
-Hubert Humphrey Minneapolis, Minesota

and Nelson Rockefeller if they ever drop the fence