Whitlock, Brand

Whitlock, Brand
   A politician, writer, and diplomat, Brand Whitlock served as U.S. minister to Belgium during World War I and played an instrumental role in securing aid to the residents of Brussels. Born on 4 March 1869, in Urbana, Ohio, he practiced law in Toledo, was elected mayor (1905-1911), and simultaneously became an influential author of essays and novels (The 13th District [1902]). A passionate social reformer, he toured Europe to study municipal law enforcement agencies and made his last stop in Brussels, where he became much interested in the city's history of municipal liberties.
   Appointed minister plenipotentiary to Belgium during the administration of Woodrow Wilson, he arrived in Brussels in February 1914. Refusing to leave the city after it fell to the Germans in August, Whitlock worked closely with the U.S.-sponsored Commission for Relief in Belgium to distribute material aid and he interceded frequently with the occupation authorities to save many lives. Following the U.S. entry into the war in April 1917, Whitlock moved the legation to Le Havre, France, where he wrote his wartime autobiography Belgium: A Personal Record (1919).
   After the armistice, in December 1918, the Belgian government elevated the status of the legation to that of embassy. City officials named Whitlock an honorary citizen of Brussels and the Université libre de Bruxelles granted him an honorary degree. He toured the United States with King Albert I in 1919. He was recalled to Washington following the election of Warren G. Harding in November 1921, but he chose to remain in Europe, residing in Cannes, France, and spending several months each year in Belgium. He continued to write fiction until his death in Cannes on 24 May 1934. The city honors him with the name of a boulevard, and a bust of Whitlock stands in the corridor of the Senate committee rooms in the Palais de la Nations.

Historical Dictionary of Brussels. .

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