why it is the U.S. senate instead of the british government initiate the inquiry after titanic sunk?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TitanicShack : One Thread

From lots of readings in the net, Ismay and others had been gone through inquiries by the U.S. senate after the rescure ship got to New York. Why it was that? I thought the ship belong to britain, and it should be the british to start investigating the incident. Anyone could please explain this to me?

-- april cheng (aprilcheng@hotmail.com), February 15, 1998


April, the British were asking the same questions in 1912. There are a number of reasons why the US decided to investigate the Titanic accident:

1. Although registered in Great Britian, Titanic's owners, the White Star Line and its parent company, Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, were in turn owned by an American corporation, International Mercantile Marine, which was controlled by the American financier, J. Pierpont Morgan. So the Titanic was actually owned by American interests.

2. White Star Line and her ships used US port facilities, sailed in US territorial waters, and solicited business from US citizens and corporations. One of the primary jobs of government is to protect its citizens. If a foreign company doing business in the US was operating in a manner which placed US citizens in danger, the US Senate felt it had a duty to investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident, so that future Titanics could be prevented.

And, somewhat surprisingly, it worked! Regulations were adopted in the US (and eventually other countries) which ***required*** the steamship companies to carry on their ships lifesaving equipment for all passengers and crew; to maintain a 24-hour radio watch; to move the spring Atlantic steamer lanes further South; and established an International Ice Patrol to track icebergs near the shipping lanes.

Hope this answers your question.


-- Kip Henry (kip-henry@ouhsc.edu), February 15, 1998.

April: If you can obtain a copy, read "Titanic, End Of A Dream" by Wyn Craig Wade. It is an excellent account of the U.S. Senate Inquiry into the sinking, spearheaded by a very feisty Senator William Alden Smith.

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (pcnivling@capecod.net), February 16, 1998.

By the way, the British did hold an inquiry, but I do not believe it was to the extent of the U.S. inquiry. Bruce Ismay had radioed ahead to the White Star offices while still at sea on the Carpathia that he intended to return immediately to England on the Cedric. He signed his transmission YAMSI! When the Carpathia docked in New York, Senator Smith had federal marshalls waiting for him and when asked if intended to to leave the country, he suddenly became very cooperative. This guy was a real lowlife but that is just my opinion.

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (pcnivling@capecod.net), February 16, 1998.

Kip: I may be mistaken, but I'm fairly certain a U.S. Senator died aboard Titanic that night. I think that was another impetus for holding such a rigorous inquiry.

-- Rose (rosemarie17@hotmail.com), February 17, 1998.

President Taft's friend and White House aide, Archie Butt was on the Titanic and didn't survive. There was no Senator on the ship for its maiden voyage.

-- Peter Edmead (peter.edmead@employment.gov.au), February 17, 1998.

Re Archie Butt:

US Army Major Archibald Butt was President William Howard Taft's military aide, and was also close friends with former president Theodore Roosevelt. When TR broke with Taft, his handpicked successor, and decided to run for the presidency, Butt was caught between loyalties and suffered greatly. Friends convinced Taft to dispatch Butt to Rome to deliver an inconsequential message to the Pope, and also get away from DC. He was on his way home when he booked passage on Titanic.

After news of the sinking reached the US, Taft wired Carpathia repeatedly seeking news of his friend, but his messages were ignored. Having his inqurires ignored infuriated Taft, particularly when he learned that Carpathia's wireless was sending messages from Bruce Ismay to his associates in New York, making arrangements to get himself and Titanic's survivng crew out of US jurisdiction ASAP. Taft got his revenge by pressing Congress for legislation to regulate the wireless telegraphy industry.

Some have tried to attribute psychic powers to Maj. Butt. Shortly before leaving for Europe, Butt wrote a curious letter to his sister, telling her "if the old boat goes down, you'll find my affairs in shipshape condition."


-- Kip Henry (kip-henry@ouhsc.edu), February 17, 1998.

This is all quite interesting. I'm pleased that my research has been so well used by such intelligent readers. WCW

-- Wyn Craig Wade (wcwade@earthlink.net), December 01, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ