What explains our nationalized passion with the Titanic? Why do so few historical events grip the heart in the same way? What really caused the great ocean liner to sink into its grave? There have been many great disasters. Some have resulted in a drastically higher death toll and level of damage to a property. The epic creation and then unfortunate sinking of the Titanic has proven that no ship is “unsinkable,” and that people underestimated the chances of ever having to worry about the safety of the ship.
The British-based White Star Line had gone through a number of changes since its formation in 1850. The company had turned its attention to oceangoing passenger steamships when Thomas Henry Ismay purchased it in 1867. Ismay’s first ship, the Oceanic, completed by the Belfast shipbuilding firm of Harland and Wolff in 1871, introduced innovations, like promenade decks, that greatly increased passenger comfort and became the rule on subsequent liners. When Ismay died in 1899, his 38-year-old son, J. Bruce Ismay, took over the company.
J. Bruce Ismay had a real sense of both “business and style” says Marc Shapiro in Total Titanic. Together with Lord W. J. Pirrie, the chairman of Harland and Wolff, he considered a proposal by American financial wizard, J. P. Morgan, to buy White Star Line as part of a scheme to unite all Atlantic shipping lines in one trust. In 1902, Morgan purchased the White Star Line for his International Mercantile Marine and installed J. Bruce Ismay as the company’s president, in 1904.
At a 1907 dinner party, Ismay proposed the construction of two luxury-class ocean liners, to be known as the Olympic class, to go head to head with the Cunard Line for the well-paid Atlantic passenger trade. A third shi...
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...forgettable liner’s story for generations to come.
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