Whitlock, Brand


Born: March 4, 1869

Ohio connection: Birth

Brand Whitlock was born in 1869 in Urbana, Ohio, to the Rev. Elias and Molly Lavinia (Brand) Whitlock. He was raised in the Methodist Church and was greatly influenced by the church and his father. He was first educated at home and later at a public high school in Toledo. His family had hoped he would attend Ohio Wesleyan College to prepare for the ministry. He had other ideas, however, and became a reporter for the Toledo Blade newspaper. In 1890, when he was twenty-one, he moved to Chicago and became a reporter for the Chicago Herald, where he worked until 1893. He then worked as a clerk in the secretary of state’s office in Springfield, Illinois, from 1893 until 1897. He was admitted to the bar of the state of Illinois in 1894 and to the Ohio bar in 1897. He worked as a lawyer in Toledo from 1897 until 1905, and served as mayor of Toledo, 1905-1913. Serving as U.S. Minister to Belgium from 1913 through 1918, Whitlock became the first U.S. Ambassador to Belgium when the post was upgraded in 1919 and continued to serve in the post until 1921. While serving in these various positions, Whitlock was also a writer of both fiction and nonfiction works. Some of his fiction titles were The Thirteenth District: A Story of a Candidate; The Happy Average; Her Infinite Variety; and The Turn of the Balance. He also produced two short story collections: The Gold Brickand The Fall Guy. Some nonfiction titles were Abraham Lincoln; Forty Years of It (autobiography); and Belgium: A Personal Narrative. After his retirement from politics in 1923, he devoted the bulk of his time to his writing career. Of the books he wrote from 1923 until his death, the most well-known were J. Hardin & Son, and a two-volume biography, La Fayette. Brand Whitlock died May 24, 1934, in Cannes, France.

Gold medal, National Institute of Social Sciences, 1913; patron commendation forrelief in Belgium; Grand Cordon de l’Ordre de Leopold by the King of Belgium, 1917; burgher of Brussels, 1918, of Liege, 1919, and of Ghent, 1920; special session of Belgian Parliament called in Whitlock’s honor, 1918; honorary citizen of Antwerp, Belgium, 1919; associate member of the Royal Academy of Belgium, 1919; commemorative medal, Comite National, Belgium, 1919; Grand Cross of St. Sava, Serbia, 1920; member of the Royal Belgian Academy of French Language and Literature, 1922; Grand Cross Order of the Rising Sun, Japan, 1922; grand officer of the Legion of Honor, France, 1929; Civic Cross of first class by Belgium government for “courage and devotion”; bust in Belgian Senate; Brussels boulevard named for Whitlock; and named honorary member of Grand Serment Royal of St. Georges, Brussels, Belgium.