1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Whitlock, Brand

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

WHITLOCK, BRAND (1860-), American diplomat and writer, was born at Urbana, O., Mar. 4 1869. He was educated in the public schools, became a newspaper reporter in Toledo, O., in 1887, and was appointed political correspondent on the Chicago Herald in 1890. Three years later he accepted a clerkship in the office of the Secretary of State of Illinois, where he remained until 1897. Meanwhile he read law and was admitted to the bar (1894). In 1897 he returned to Toledo and practised law until 1905, when he was elected mayor. He was reëlected for three succeeding terms, but in 1911 declined the nomination for a fifth term. In 1913 he was appointed by President Wilson minister to Belgium and in 1919 his post was raised to ambassador. This office he continued to hold under President Harding until the close of 1921. Before he had been in Belgium a year the World War broke out and the German invasion took place. Although the other diplomatic bodies followed the Belgian court to Havre, Whitlock insisted on remaining in Brussels in order to render any possible aid to the oppressed people. It was largely due to his urgent advice that Brussels did not resist and thus escaped even more ruthless devastation. In the early days of the war he gave protection to many German residents who had been unable to leave the country. By his firm attitude toward the German military officials he saved many innocent Belgians from death; but his activities in behalf of Edith Cavell were unavailing as he was misled at the last moment by false promises by the Germans. After the formation of the Commission for Relief in Belgium, its operations were placed wholly under his direction. Food and clothing were provided for destitute civilians whose means of sustenance had been destroyed. His ceaseless work in their behalf won the gratitude of all the Belgians; and although worn out by the physical strain he refused to quit his post until the signing of the Armistice in Nov. 1918, when he returned to America for a short rest. He was decorated with the Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold by King Albert (1917), and was made burgher of Brussels (1918) and of Liége (1919) and Honorary Citizen of Antwerp (1919). The Belgian Government awarded him the Civic Cross of the First Class (1919). He was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

An excellent account of the German occupation is given in his Belgium; a Personal Narrative (1919). His other writings include The 13th District: a Story of a Candidate (1902); Her Infinite Variety (1904); The Happy Average (1904); The Turn of the Balance (1907); Abraham Lincoln (1909, in the Beacon Biographies); The Gold Brick (1910); On the Enforcement of Law in Cities (1910; enlarged form, 1913); The Fall Guy (1912); Forty Years of It (1914, a description of “democracy's progress in a mid-western city”) and Walt Whitman: How to Know Him (1920).