Who's Who - Brand Whitlock

Brand Whitlock (right) with Belgian King Albert I Brand Whitlock (1869-1934) served as U.S. Ambassador to Belgium during World War I.

Born in Urbana, Ohio on 4 March 1869 Whitlock's early career took him into law and journalism, including a spell at the Chicago Herald.

Subsequently employed by John P. Altgeld, the influential governor for Illinois, Whitlock himself developed an interest in politics.  In 1906 he was elected to the first of four terms as Mayor of Toledo (until 1913).

In 1914 Whitlock accepted an appointment by President Woodrow Wilson as American Minister to Belgium, during which time he earned a nickname as Le Ministre Protecteur on account of his frequent appeals to German military authorities in occupied Belgium on behalf of condemned prisoners (most notably British nurse Edith Cavell).

Remaining in Belgium until 1922 he published, in 1919, Belgium: A Personal Narrative, based upon his wartime experiences.   A prolific author, Whitlock wrote 18 books on numerous topics, including several works of fiction (e.g. The Thirteenth District, 1902).  His autobiography, Forty Years of It, was published in 1914.  He also wrote poetry, including a piece based on the sinking of the Titanic.

He died in Cannes, France in 1934, where he is buried.

Click here to read Whitlock's appeal on behalf of Edith Cavell.  Click here to read Whitlock's report on German treatment of Belgian citizens in 1916.  Click here to read Whitlock's report on German atrocities in Belgium.

A "listening post" was an advanced post, usually in no-man's land, where soldiers tried to find out information about the enemy.

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