Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

William F. Broening (1870-1953)
MSA SC 3520-12486


Born in Baltimore, Maryland, June 2, 1870.  Son of Mr. Broening and Katherine (Petri) Broening.  Married J. Marie; Children were two sons and one daughter including William F. Broening, Jr. and K. Ethel (Broening) Fulenwider.  Lutheran.  Died October 12, 1953.  Buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Maryland.

The following essay is taken from Wilbur F. Coyle, The Mayors of Baltimore (Reprinted from The Baltimore Municipal Journal, 1919), pp. 229-233.

Mr. Broening was born in the Southern section of Baltimore in 1870.  He was educated in the public schools of the City, but at an early age began earning his own livelihood.  He took every opportunity to study and finally entered, as a student, the University of Maryland Law School, graduating from, that institution in 1897, and began the practice of law.  A Republican, he took an active interest in politics, and the same year of his graduation was elected a member of the City Council, 1897-99, serving as chairman of several important committees.  He was elected on a platform in which it was stated that if elected he would advocate placing wires underground in conduits.  There was much opposition on the ground that no such franchise should be given to private corporate interests.  Mr. Broening took the position that it was a municipal function, and therefore the conduits should be built by the municipality, and that they should be owned and maintained by the City because only in that way could competition among ether persons who wanted to use them be secured.  It was a hard-fought battle.  Both branches were Republican at that time.

As a member of the Council, Mr. Broening, though it was his first experience in public life, gave evidence of a vision of Baltimore’s future needs.  He insisted upon the removal of the dangerous overhead wires, which were not only unsightly, but of great hindrance to the Fire Department in fighting the flames.  He drafted and introduced into the Council the present law, which created the Electric Commission, under whose supervision the system of municipal conduits was constructed, into which were placed the former over head wires.  He also introduced the law which provided for “All-night Cars.”  He advocated the vestibule for street cars, which resulted in the placing of shields in the front and rear of cars for the protection of motormen and conductors.  He also took the initiative in bringing about the free transfer system.  At this time there were a number of Railway Companies, afterwards consolidated into the present system, and when one of them sought a franchise in connection with their system Mr. Broening insisted as part of the consideration for the franchise that the company agree to give free transfers over their lines, and all other railway lines with which they connected.

Mr. Broening was secretary of the late Frank C. Wachter during the latter’s eight years, 1899-1907, in Congress.  He, in fact, was Mr. Wachter’s close personal friend and advisor as well as secretary, and he later occupied a similar position with Congressman John Kronmiller, of Baltimore, 1909-11.

Mr. Broening served in the House of Delegates for the session of 1902-04.  As a member of the Judiciary Committee of that house he strongly advocated and succeeded in having the Parole Law of the City amended so as to give the judges wider latitude with first offenders.  He was elected States Attorney of Baltimore November 2, 1911, and was re-elected to that office in November, 1915.  As States Attorney he introduced in connection with the work of that office the Big Brother Movement, through which means he sought the help of many people in the community in saving and reclaiming many who had yielded to temptation.  He entered the Mayoralty contest in 1919 as the unanimous choice of his party, and on May 6th was elected Mayor, defeating George Weems Williams, Democrat. Mr. Broening is married and has two sons and one daughter.

The Mayor is a fraternalist, and ever since his majority has been actively identified with fraternal organizations.  He is now the Supreme Dictator of the Loyal Order of Moose of the World, is one of the Supreme Representatives of the Knights of Pythias, is a Mason, an Elk, an Odd Fellow, and is connected with other fraternal and humane activities.

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