Archive for Monday, April 16, 2012

100 years ago: Shocking news of Titanic disaster reaches Lawrence

April 16, 2012


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for April 16, 1912:

  • "The appalling magnitude of the wreck of the giant liner Titanic has been but little mitigated by the fragmentary information which has filtered in today. The rescuing steamer Carpathia has 868 survivors aboard, according to the latest news received at the offices of the White Star line. But except for this, favorable details are insignificant compared with the supreme fact that the Titanic is at the bottom of the Atlantic and that the shattered wreck took with her about 1350 victims to their death.... Hope clung desperately this morning to the belief that the steamers Virginian and Parisian of the Allan line may have picked up survivors in addition to those on board the Carpathia, but this [hope] was practically abandoned.... All hope for details of the tragedy and its effects are centered on the Carpathia. She will be in wireless communication with Sable Island tonight, with Nantucket on Thursday and she will reach New York some time Thursday night."
  • "The Titanic, if placed on land in Lawrence on Massachusetts street, would have reached from the Journal-World office to the Innes store.... The deathbed of the 10 million dollar steamer, and of probably many who must have been dragged with her, is two miles at least below the surface of the sea.... Vice President Franklin of the White Star line knew the Titanic's fate yesterday afternoon; he is being criticised today for his definite reassuring declaration of yesterday, which tended as alleged to mislead the public. 'The reason I did not give it out last night,' Mr. Franklin said, 'was because it was so discouraging that I felt that it would not be right to alarm the public unnecessarily. Now that the worst is known I am willing to give it out.'"


Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 9 months ago

The sinking of the Titanic was certainly a terrible tragedy, but it is far from the top of the list in the number of fatalities. But because of many circumstances, it is the most well known maritime disaster.

Even at the time the Titanic sank, there had already been two disasters that had resulted in greater loss of life, the SS Sultana on April 27, 1865 with up to 1,800 dead, and the Tek Sing (China) February 6, 1822, with an estimated 1,600 dead.

This is a list of ship disasters in order of the number of people killed: Number One: MV Doña Paz (Philippines) December 20, 1987. 4,341 people were killed.

Number Two: SS Kiangya (China) December 4, 1948. Between 2,750 and 3,920 people were killed.

Number Three: SS Mont-Blanc and the Halifax Explosion (Canada) On 6 December 6, 1917. About 2,000 people were killed.

Number Four: Le Joola (Senegal) September 26, 2002. Estimated 1,800 people were killed.

Number Five: SS Sultana April 27, 1865. Up to 1,800 people were killed.

Number Six: Tek Sing (China) February 6, 1822. Estimated 1,600 people were killed.

Number Seven: RMS Titanic (Great Britain) April 14, 1912. 1,523 people were killed.

AreUKiddingMe 5 years, 9 months ago

The loss of life is but one of the reasons Titanic is remembered as one of the greatest maritime disasters. Her being promoted as "unsinkable" and "the greatest ship ever made". The rich and famous on board. And to add a little "today" into it. The media hype that was given the ship at the time.

I find this very interesting. Nice to see how this international event was covered locally

RoeDapple 5 years, 9 months ago

" Claims that one of history's greatest ships could never sink were never made during the Titanic's short lifetime and are a classic example of myth creation, according to a British academic.

Richard Howells, lecturer in communications studies at Leeds University, says in a new book, The Myth of the Titanic, that it was only after the liner had gone down that she was described as being unsinkable.

"As soon as the Titanic sank, everyone decided it was the great unsinkable ship, but it was never, in fact, publicised as being an unsinkable ship," he said."

AreUKiddingMe 5 years, 9 months ago

"The shipbuilders Harland and Wolff insist that the Titanic was never advertised as an unsinkable ship. They claim that the 'unsinkable' myth was the result of people's interpretations of articles in the Irish News and the Shipbuilder magazine that said she was "practically unsinkable". They also claim that the myth grew after the disaster. Yet, when the New York office of the White Star Line was informed that Titanic was in trouble, White Star Line Vice President P.A.S. Franklin announced " We place absolute confidence in the Titanic. We believe the boat is unsinkable." By the time Franklin spoke those words Titanic was at the bottom of the ocean" look I can copy and paste too we are talking semantics here. Just like when something is taken out of context in today's media.

AreUKiddingMe 5 years, 9 months ago

An extract from a White Star Line publicity brochure produced in 1910 for the twin ships Olympic and Titanic which states ??these two wonderful vessels are designed to be unsinkable. Some sources state that this wording was used on an advertising flyer while others point to an illustrated brochure. The White Star Line insist that the words used in the publicity brochure (shown right) only point to Titanic's being designed to be unsinkable, not that it was claimed to be unsinkable.

On June 1, 1911, the Irish News and Belfast Morning News contained a report on the launching of Titanic's hull. The article described the system of watertight compartments and electronic watertight doors and concluded that Titanic was practically unsinkable.

In 1911, Shipbuilder magazine published an article on the White Star Line's sister ships Titanic and Olympic. The article described the construction of the ship and concluded that Titanic was practically unsinkable.

Sarah St. John 5 years, 9 months ago

Thanks for the comments, everyone.

I liked the bit about how long the Titanic would have been if it were superimposed on Mass Street. I should have indicated in brackets that the Innes store was, to the best of my knowledge, located at Ninth and Mass. After writing this OHT (a week or two ago) I toddled over to Mass and walked the length of the ship, just to get a feel for how big it was.

I was also interested in the false report circulated by the White Star people about 24 hours before this. (See yesterday's OHT.) I checked other newspapers -- that report was repeated on nearly every front page that I checked that day. And this Franklin guy did not sound at all sorry for it the next day. Really, what good did it do for him to prevaricate? He said the real news was "too discouraging" and that they didn't want to alarm people. So thousands of people worldwide got their hopes up unnecessarily, only to have them dashed the next day.

In preparing this week's 100 Years Ago, I wanted to get a feel for how excruciatingly long the news-gathering process was in 1912. If I remember correctly, the Titanic sank on a Sunday night, and the Carpathia did not reach NYC until Thursday. In the interim, people were dependent on intermittent wireless reports relayed from various offshore points. I have not yet reached the half-century mark in my life, but as far back as I can remember, news was pretty much instantaneous, or close to it.... you had to wait for the evening news, but then you got the info for that day or maybe the day before. What a lot changed in the first half of the 20th century!

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