Nothing seems to change with rich vs. poor – after 100 years and recently discovered details – pointing to mostly poor people drowning when the Titanic sank on April 15, 1912 on route to New York City.
The sinking of the RMS Titanic – when 1,514 people drowned out of a total 2,224 people on board – impacted mostly the lower class passengers it’s now revealed by experts who point to the very rich as being saved first over women and children.
Don Lynch, the historian of the Titanic Historical Society and author of “Titanic – An Illustrated History,” writes that news insights into the voyage of the ill-fated Titanic 100 years ago, on April 15, 1912, reveals more lower class passengers perishing than the rich class.
While the Titanic went down 100 years ago – with both the ship and the dead having been buried long since – Lynch writes how there’s still “Titanic’s allure that seems greater today than ever.”
For instance, newly unearthed records – from a U.S. Senate directed investigation into who died and why when the Titanic sunk – are featured in Lynch’s book that documents what was “the most luxurious ocean liner afloat.”
From the first-class staterooms to the second and lower-class decks, all of these passengers embarked on Titanic’s maiden voyage in hopes of a fun cruise while not knowing it would be her last.
Still, all were not equal when facing the Titanic’s sinking, state experts.
When the Titanic sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean (sailing from Cork to New York City) after hitting a massive iceberg, it resulted in 1,514 people (mostly lower class and working class passengers and crew members) in what is still one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.
This Sunday, April 15, marks the 100th anniversary of the famed ocean liner’s sinking on its maiden voyage.
Titanic Passengers Upper And Lower Classes
The Titanic’s “wealthiest passenger was John Jacob Astor,” writes Don Lynch, the historian of the Titanic Historical Society and author of “Titanic – An Illustrated History.”
Lynch writes that Astor was the owner of a yacht notorious “for its collisions,” and that he had “once been sued by the Vanderbilt’s for having rammed their yacht, the North Star, during the America’s Cup races.
Lynch also notes how this maiden voyage of the Titanic included the “playboy,” Benjamin Guggenheim who, although married, “was traveling on the Titanic with his mistress, one Madame Aubert of Paris.”
And, there was Thomas Andrews, managing director of Harland and Wolff, who had overseen the construction of the Titanic from the keel up; and Lynch writes how Andrews “was taking the maiden voyage to make one final inspection of the new ship.
Second-class Passengers Remembered
In the second class, for example, Lynch writes about the Reverend Ernest C. Carter – vicar of the poor parish church of St. Jude’s in East London – who had developed a “slight cold” after the Titanic’s maiden voyage began.
“Fortunately, he and his wife, Lilian, had befriended Marion Wright, a young woman traveling to New York to be married to an Oregon fruit farmer.
Miss Wright, it turned out, had some tablets that seemed to relieve the minister’s symptoms,” writes Lynch.
Also, Lynch – who spent more than 10 years researching Titanic’s passenger records, writes how “a much younger second-class passenger, seven-year-old Eva hart, had made friends with six-year-old Nina Harper, but only after Eva’s father insisted that she share her precious teddy bear with the older girl, whose mother had passed away.”
Overall, the Titanic was not only the largest ship afloat back 100 years ago in April 1912; Lynch writes that “without a doubt it was the most luxurious,” but only for those rich in first class.
Sadly, most of the children in second class perished while the rich and powerful cigar-smoking millionaires in first class were the “first to the lifeboats” when the Titanic began to take on water after hitting a massive iceberg on that fateful April 15, 1912 night when it sunk to the bottom of the sea taking 1,514 passengers and crew members with it.
Ship Of Dreams Mainly For The Rich
The rich and powerful Titanic passengers in first class enjoyed “gold-plated light fixtures on each landing of the staircase and spacious entrance halls” that led to the posh dining rooms and bars where these special guests enjoyed the finest food and drink while gazing at the Atlantic Ocean from spacious seaport windows or viewing million-dollar oil paintings that decorated the landings of the Titanic’s staircases.
According to Lynch’s book “Titanic – An Illustrated History,” one of the livelier first class dining tables was that shared by Clarence Moore, a Washington sportsman and social figure; while Francis Millet, a well-known painter of historical scenes and “an accomplished raconteur” was also enjoyed toasting expensive champagne with the likes of Archibald Butt, President Taft’s military aide.
In turn, the first class Titanic “dining saloon,” featured elegant tableware that’s now prized collectables from treasure hunters who’ve entered the doomed ship in recent years to salvage the Titanic’s elegant cups and saucers that go for hundreds of thousands of dollars for those who want a piece of the Titanic’s history.
At the same time, those Titanic passengers and crew members ate far less sophisticated foods from plain white dishes that are now cracked and scattered at the bottom of the sea where the Titanic still lies.
Titanic Marketed To The Rich And Powerful
Overall, Lynch writes that the Titanic’s “four parlor suites provided the most expensive accommodation on board.
Each suite had its own sitting room, two bedrooms, two wardrobe rooms and a private bath and lavatory.”
Meanwhile, second class and lower class passengers and crew members slept in stacked and very tight lower cabin quarters on bunk-beds and tiny corners; while sharing one small toilet with dozens of people.
Also, since the Titanic’s “smoking room” was a male preserve for the very rich who could afford both their first class accommodation and $10 cigars, the wealthy women passengers had to make do with an elegant Georgian-style room with an adjacent lounge that Lynch writes “was designed as a retreat for the ladies.”
In turn, the only “retreat” for the lower class passengers was a dark lower deck area that “smelled to high heaven,” said one of the Titanic crew members.
In addition, the first class Titanic passengers were treated to Turkish baths, a barber shop, a huge gymnasium and a swimming pool on the F-deck that was reserved for the rich first class passengers.
However, those in the lower class areas had to “wash-up in a sink,” and had no access to a bath while onboard the luxury ocean liner that “reflected the times when the rich were privileged and the poor were not.”
Rich Survive, Poor Perish On Titanic
As the wealthy panicked after that fateful Sunday, April 15, 1912, the poor in the lower class decks worried about women and children getting to the lifeboats that were already commandeered by the rich men; while poor lower class women and children passengers were left wanting.
For instance, Lynch writes how Titanic life boat No. 1, with a capacity of 40, “has only twelve aboard including the ultra-wealthy Duff Gordon’s and seven crew members.”
At the same time, other life boats were filled with first class passengers; while “collapsible” life boats were lowered with dozens of second class passengers, with the lower classes screaming for help.
In the wake of the formal British inquiry as to why the Titanic sunk and why so many lives were lost, America followed suit with an official U.S. Senate investigation into who was lost.
In turn, Lynch’s book “Titanic – An Illustrated History,” shows how the numbers of those lost and saved varied among the three classes and the crew.
These Figures Are From The Official U.S. Senate investigation
- First class lost: 119 men, 11 women and children. First class saved: 54 men, 145 women and children.
- Second class lost: 142 men, and 24 women and children. Second class saved: 15 men, and 104 women and children.
- Third class lost: 417 men, 119 women and children. Third class saved: 69 men, 105 women and children.
- Crew lost: 682 men and three women. Crew saved: 194 men and 20 women.
Overall, the numbers of rich first class lost numbered 130; while the number of third class or poor lost totaled 536; for about five times more lower class than rich perished when the Titanic sank.
In turn, the U.S. Senate investigation was kept from the public, writes Lynch, due in part to a backlash by the working class against the rich and powerful who viewed their lives as more of value than the poor; as some will say the same view exists in the world today.
Thus, Lynch writes how “part of the lure and mystery of the Titanic will always be its unanswered questions.
Would a different captain have avoided the iceberg? Could the ship have been prevented from sinking? What kind of gash did the iceberg cause in the hull?
Ironically, Lynch says “the discovery of the wreck in 1985 solved some of the mysteries, but it created others.”
For instance, why were there so many more rich who survived than the poor when they were all equal in the end when the Titanic sank into the cold Atlantic waters on April 15, 1912.