Early in our third fiscal year, the Germans took the final step to force Belgian and French workers into German factories by means of wholesale deportations. When they began, in November, 1916, I was in Brussels, and I urged Minister Whitlock to make a general protest against the entire deportation infamy. He was loath to act, so I sent him a strongly worded letter:

BRUSSELS, 8 November 1916

Reports this morning from all over the country show seizure of men right and left regardless of employment, including members of our local committees and employees. I fear it is the beginning of the end.

It is worth your considering uttering a full and strong protest with all the vigor of which you are so capable.

This is a greater issue to the Belgian people than anything since the invasion and they look to you as to America for some strong action.

It may result in nothing, but it will have put the American stamp on it in indelible terms, and if we do nothing else for Belgium we will go down in a blaze of indignation at this, its worst of any trials since the first agony.


Whitlock believed that making such a protest lay beyond his duties and that it might endanger the Relief. He may have been right. Nevertheless, Ambassador Page, on my information, took the matter up with Washington. As a result, our State Department took a strong stand and issued the following statement to the press:


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An American Epic - Vol. 1
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