This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
When That Great Ship Went Down:
The Legal and Political Repercussions of the Loss of RMS Titanic -- --. -.-GMW Wem ss Mar!ham Shaw P le
From the Introduction: … The myth set sail even as the great liner slipped into the death-cold embrace of the North Atlantic. We know, a cent ry on, m ch that was not known in 1!1"# her tr e position, the probable ca se of her loss, and how m ch of the myth was false in fact. $t does not matter % in several senses. &erception again tr mps reality. 'or the p rposes of this vol me, it does not matter that we know now what the Wreck (ommissioners and )enate s bcommittee and co rts of admiralty and *o se of (ommons did not know# for they acted pon what they knew and pon what they believed to be tr e, witho t the benefits of o r after-knowledge+ and this work is concerned with what they did and why they did it# and that rests pon what they knew and ass med, not what pon we have learnt since. And as a potent symbol, a pop lar myth, Titanic and her loss reck nothing of the facts then known or the facts known now. Almost before the s rvivors reached New ,ork aboard Carpathia, the Titanic of myth had been salvaged and had commenced her eternal -o rney. 'ashionable preachers deno nced her as having, by h bris, invoked Nemesis, altho gh this intensely .reek concept was wrapt in the diction of &rotestant (hristianity. African-Americans sang of her fate, as p nishment for not having allowed /ack /ohnson to take passage on her, an episode that simply did not occ r# 0(aptain said, 1$
ain2t ha lin2 no coal3# 'are thee, Titanic, fare thee well2. $smay was represented as having donned women2s clothing to sneak into a lifeboat+ the 0rich wo ld not ride with the poor2+ .od2s mighty hand showed the world that boasts of her 0 nsinkability2 0wo ld not stand# it was sad when that great ship went down2…. *arland 4 Wolff, the myth has it, and their 5lster &rotestant workforce, gave the ship in the yard a n mber of 6!7!78, being, reversed, an appro9imation of 0No &ope2 % another o tright fabrication. And of co rse, there are the contrary myths % for myth is never consistent % of the band2s playing 1Nearer :y .od to Thee3 and of the stoic gallantry of the ;firstclass< gentlemen going down with the ship once the women and children were away+ the myths of 0an $talian2 or 0a =atin of some sort2 attempting to force his way into the boats ahead of the women and children, and being forced back at g npoint+ the myths of fate and c rses…. =eaving aside the c rio s theology of .od2s drowning fifteen h ndred so ls to reb ke scientific and engineering complacency and other forms of mortal h bris, there remain the facts beneath the myths of pop lar imagination. There was a h ge loss of life, by a ca se other than a nat ral disaster s ch as storms or ocean cyclones, an ins rer2s 0Act of .od2+ and it was pon a scale that % two years before the .reat War sho ld bring cas alties that p t Titanic2s death toll in the shade % was so vast as to be simply incomprehensible. There was the fact that Titanic was owned,
ltimately, by a /& :organ transatlantic 0Tr st2, which was to the 5) )enate2s &rogressives sin eno gh to bring condign p nishment by .od and by the (ongress. There was the fact that she had been b ilt in >elfast by >elfast &rotestants % and the co ntervailing political fact that the head of *arland 4 Wolff was a =iberal, Ascendancy s pporter of $rish *ome ? le. And there was the fact that the drowned emigrants from $reland and the (ontinent had been fatally segregated in steerage by strict meas res, cordoned off … to satisfy nativist, often &rogressive, 5) immigration restrictions. …
From Chapter One: @@@@@@@@@@@@ T*A )$BT,-)A(CND (CN.?A)) C' 5nited )tates n mbered
ninety-si9 senators % where the ?ep blicans had a narrow ma-ority % and three h ndred ninety-fo r representatives in the *o se, which was firmly in Democratic hands. This represented fo r more senators and three more representatives than were seated in the )i9ty-'irst (ongress, for at the beginning of 1!1", the last two contig o s states of the 5nion had been admitted# New :e9ico and AriEona. >oth 5) )enators from AriEona were Democrats+ both 5) )enators from New :e9ico, ?ep blicans. The single congressman from AriEona was likewise a Democrat+ New :e9ico2s *o se members, one Democrat and one ?ep blican. >oth parties, in the older states as in the new, were rived thro gh with internal divisions# the ?ep blican Cld . ard were Not &leased with the ?ep blican &rogressives# not even with those of them who had not yet deserted the standard of &resident Taft to s pport Teddy ?oosevelt2s ins rgency.1 AF ally,
The former president % partly from a sense that Taft, his chosen s ccessor, the Alisha on whom he had placed his mantle ;T? tho ght in somewhat Cld Testament terms<, had betrayed the ca se and become too friendly with the Tr sts and 0malefactors of great wealth2, and partly o t of sheer boredom with life after office and deprived of the 0b lly p lpit2 % was challenging &resident Taft for the .C& nomination. $n / ne, Teddy2s s pporters wo ld bolt the ?ep blican (onvention, and in A g st, create a third party, nominate T? as > ll :oose in (hief, and thereby ens re the election of Woodrow Wilson.
the Democrats comprised a bewildering and m t ally hostile congeries of factions, &rogressive, conservative, rban, agrarian, pro-finance, >ryanite, Wall )treet, economically radical, Wet, Dry, New )o th, Cld )o th, o tright >o rbon-(onfederate, " protariff, anti-tariff, anti-Hlan, pro-Hl 9er, moralistic, and frankly corr pt.6 Things were fractio s eno gh in the )enate that the ?ep blicans, let alone both parties, co ld not agree on who sho ld be president pro tempore of that body ;a problem that wo ld become more pressing later in the year when the Iice&resident of the 5nited )tates, /ames ) )herman, sho ld die, leaving the )enate witho t its presiding officer ex officio for its third session, ntil the new, Democratic Iice-&resident took office in :arch 1!16<# they had to rotate the office between one Democrat and fo r ?ep blicans. 8 $n the *o se, )peaker (hamp (lark of :isso ri was fort nate to be a F ick learner# )peaker only since 1!11, he was forced to mollify, ca-ole, threaten, oil,
" $n the second session of the )i9ty-)econd (ongress % the session sitting in April 1!1" % there were in the )enate alone five 5nion Army veterans ;one of whom, )enator Warren, ?ep blican of Wyoming, had won the :edal of *onor< and si9 (onfederate veterans % incl ding the senior Republican )enator from New :e9ico, Thomas >enton (atron. $t was his skill in appearing to be all things to all men that was to allow Woodrow Wilson, the )o therner who happened to be governor of New /ersey at the time, to slip in between )peaker (hamp (lark, Chio governor / dson *armon, and antiHlan, anti-&rohibitionist (ongressman 5nderwood of Alabama, and emerge as the Democratic nominee in / ne. )en. A g st s Cctavi s >acon, Democrat of .eorgia and former (onfederate staff officer+ )en. (harles ( rtis of Hansas, ?ep blican, *erbert *oover2s f t re Iice&resident, the first known Native American to attain s ch high office+ ?ep blican )en. /acob * .allinger of New *ampshire, the homeopathic senator+ Ali )enator 'rank >randegee, (onnectic t ?ep blican from )k ll and >ones+ and the :assach setts ?ep blican >rahmin stalwart *enry (abot =odge.
and sell his nr ly charges to preserve a Democratic ma-ority that was m ch less impressive in the chamber than on paper. There seemed sometimes to be any n mber of Democratic &arties at large in the *o se, all of them at odds with all of the others, in a *obbesian state of nat re. @@@@@@@@@@@@ CN 17 A&?$= 1!1", *o se of (ommons concerned itself with
Naval and marine ins rance matters % the 'irst =ord, :r (h rchill, being absent % with Welsh Disestablishment, local schools in >irkenhead, the ?'( ;with reference to the $talian se of air attacks in $taly2s ongoing little war with the Cttoman Ampire<, imperial trade, district n rses and National $ns rance, the Army estimates, p nishment for Cther ?anks fo nd to have fathered bastards, and new b ildings for the >oard of Trade. The sclerotic >oard of Trade, so lately headed by the now 'irst =ord, :r (h rchill, in s ccession to the c rrent (hancellor, David =loyd .eorge, might move its offices+ otherwise, it was not noted for m ch in the way of movement. )choolchildren in >irkenhead and everyone on either side of the :ersey, incl ding that =iverp dlian K( and - rist =ord :ersey, knew that perfectly well. (ertainly it had offered no real scope for the energies of the 'irst =ord when he had been &resident of the >oard of Trade, nor yet for those of that most signally disestablished Welshman, the
(hancellor, who was sing larly fort nate that fornication and ad ltery were not regarded as offences against &arliamentary % as they were against military % discipline. The 'ront >ench were concerned with National $ns rance, in an off-hand fashion, and, far more, with the coming fight for *ome ? le % and the conseF ences sort of chance. As for imperial trade and foreign affairs, wars and r mo rs of war, these were the concerns of the 'irst =ord and the (hancellor, the latter of whom had profited handsomely from the decision to create, as had long been contemplated, the $mperial Wireless (hain … and to award it to :arconi2s Wireless Telegraph (ompany. The depart re, at Noon on 17 April, of ?:) Titanic from )o thampton, bo nd for New ,ork via (herbo rg and K eenstown,G went nnoticed, nless perhaps for its celebrity in the pop lar press, the c rio s incident of its wake tearing )) New York from her moorings and nearly drawing the American ship into a collision with Titanic, and, in the 'irst =ord2s case, possibly a dim recollection that, when New York had been the >ritish $nman =ine passenger liner City of New York, she had been 0christened2 by =ady ?andolph (h rchill, the 'irst =ord2s New ,ork-born mother.
G Now (obh, in $reland.
emasc lating the =ords, allowed a *ome ? le bill to have some
@@@@@@@@@@@@ $N WA)*$N.TCN, 17 A&?$= 1!1", (ongress had defeated an
amendment to a bill a thorising additional aids to navigation in the lightho se service ;the amendment sho ld have taken away a provision for sing appropriations to feed and clothe s rvivors of shipwrecks<, and had red ced the d ties on wool and woollens. The )enate had also increased the mandatory retirement age for 5) Navy dentists. Now the )enate was debating whether to amend a *o se bill concerning the carrying of concealed weapons in the District of (ol mbia, and whether to amend a *o se bill on Army appropriations which had served to red ce the siEe of the 5) (avalry. The sailing of Titanic for New ,ork was a matter only for the social pages of the newspapers, not for legislators. @@@@@@@@@@@@ $' $?$)* :A:>A?) the =iberal government firmly by the
bollocks, =abo r were grasping the hem of the =iberal garment. Aven now, :r AsF ith2s ma-ority was dependent pon s pport from :r ?edmond2s $rish Nationalists and ?amsay :acDonald2s =abo r members. AsF ith himself had been overmastered by events, drink, vanity, social climbing, and se9 al obsession# once
(ampbell->annerman2s forensic and silken 0sledge-hammer2 in (ommons debates, a free-trader and a (lassical, .ladstonian =iberal very m ch of the ?ightmost wing of the party, he had been forced already to abdicate m ch of his power. The Naval crises with Wilhelmine .ermany, the $rish K estion that had bedevilled the =iberals since the end of .ladstone2s second ministry, the rise of =abo r, and his own personal failings, had left him shackled hand and foot to :r ?edmond, and at the mercy of his chancellor, :r =loyd .eorge. The =ords had badly and inarg ably overreached themselves in 1!7! by re-ecting the > dget in a way that violated &arliamentary convention and placed them irreparably in the wrong+ b t they had been provoked and indeed almost forced into doing so by a deliberately o trageo s 0&eople2s > dget2 crafted by =loyd .eorge e9pressly to provoke the crisis it did provoke. With the conseF ent loss of the =ords2 Ieto, there was no longer any e9c se for delaying a *ome ? le bill % an e9c se =iberal prime ministers had not been above sing in the past % and no bar to f rther e9periments in social welfare spending p t p by the (hancellor ;less o t of conviction than to dish =abo r<. *ome ? le for $reland had become The &ro-ect, the indispensable, ine9orable goal with which nothing was to be allowed to interfere. $t was a political necessity for the =iberal &arty so far as the =iberals wished to remain in government. :ore dangero sly, it was a personal obsession of the &:2s. $f he
was shackled to the $rish members, he had participated in riveting the fetters. AsF ith was one of the few, pro d members of (ommons % 0the remnant2 % who had been members in (ommons what time .ladstone had made his last, heart-breaking attempt to p t *ome ? le thro gh, and he was determined that neither the repeated ref sal of the people to give him a mandate, nor any other ca se, sho ld prevent him in s cceeding where his old chief and idol had failed. *ome ? le was The &ro-ect, and nothing % not the deaths of h ndreds, not corr ption in the (abinet, not his (hancellor2s cherished schemes % sho ld be allowed to divert from it his path. David =loyd .eorge had beg n his ascent as the voice of the valleys, the trib ne of Welsh Nonconformism and the incarnation of the Nonconformist conscience. (ertainly by 1!7J at the latest, he had lost whatever conscience he had had, and was simply corr pt and on the make. At the same time, he c ltivated, and, on one side of his notably comple9 nat re, seemed yet to feel compassion for, the poor, and partic larly the Welsh poor. *is ally in p tting p the > dget of 1!7! had been the then &resident of the >oard of Trade, that enfant terrible Winston. Winston sensed that he was not destined to remain long at the >oard of Trade, and his sights were even then set pon the Admiralty, which was always to be his first love. The 0&eople2s > dget2 not only so ght to ta9 the rich to assist the poor, it so ght to ta9 the rich to maintain Naval s periority, partic larly
as against TirpitE and the Haiser. And, too, (h rchill was always easily captivated# by /oe (hamberlain, by =loyd .eorge, by /ackie 'isher, by :onty…. =loyd .eorge, who portrayed himself, to great political advantage, as having been born to poverty and str ggle ;he hadn2t been, and he certainly made certain he did not remain long bereft of the world2s riches<, disliked d kes as a class and delighted in twisting their tails. Winston2s e9asperation with d kes was not class-based, b t individ al, and proceeded from his knowing them all too well and being related to most of them. >etween them, they created a social revol tion, a political crisis, a =iberal co p, and very nearly % averted only by the o tbreak of war in 1!18 % a civil war. 'or the position that )F iffy AsF ith had managed to get himself into was more than diffic lt. >etween the tri mph over the =ords and the fail re to win a ma-ority in two s ccessive general elections, he had now to make good on the cheF e he had written ;and crossed< to the $rish Nationalists. Witho t them, he co ld not have broken the =ords+ having broken the =ords, and being reliant pon the $rish members for his control of the (ommons, he m st now get *ome ? le thro gh. And *ome ? le was in any event The &ro-ect, and he a Tr e >eliever. And it was already becoming obvio s that % whether or not it was right % 5lster was prepared to fight. :r ?edmond, like not a
few of the leading proponents of $rish *ome ? le ;incl ding even some of the many &rotestants who had led the movement<, was one of the Anglo-$rish, and, in his case, not one of the Ascendancy, b t rather one of the Cld Anglish, the pre?eformation, pre-T dor, *iberno-(ambro-Normans who were Hiberniores Hibernis ipsis, more $rish than the $rish. The 5lster &rotestants and 5nionists thro gho t $reland, regarding *ome ? le as treasono s, believing that 0*ome ? le was ?ome ? le2, in t rn considered themselves more loyal and more 5nionist and more >ritish than the >ritish .overnment. >y 1!18, both sides were to tread perilo sly near to treason, arming themselves against a civil war they were thereby provoking. The sinking of a >ritish ship, b ilt by a >elfast shipyard r n by sprigs of the Ascendancy and of the &resbyterian plantations, and carrying (atholic, $rish emigrants to New ,ork in steerage class, was perhaps the worst possible event ality for the AsF ith government. 'ort nately, this was a fantastic and all b t nimaginable prospect, a mere, baseless, passing nightmare that co ld not possibly befall. The science of shipb ilding was, after all, settled+ the consens s was clear. Cn 11 April 1!1", at 6.G
the &rime :inister rose, stood to
the despatch bo9, and moved the .overnment of $reland >ill. ?:) Titanic had p t o t from K eenstown one and one-F arter ho rs before, departing tro bled $reland for the promise of
From Chapter Two: T*A .CIA?N:ANT $?A=AND >$== created, inevitably, its own
moment m# the ship of state, once set on that co rse, co ld not readily be t rned to avoid collision. And % as Titanic had done at )o thampton Docks % she drew powerf l wake. The ocean is not feat reless, yet its feat res are not all of them fi9ed# its very variety and changeableness make its s rface monotono s and indisting ishable. AF ally nseen are the s bmarine landscape, the deep c rrents, and the play of wind and weather pon the oceans2 s rfaces# and what is not seen is what most matters. When Titanic stood o t to sea from K eenstown, she was not entering ncharted waters, yet she did not foresee what she was to find. When the =iberal government embarked pon the *ome ? le >ill, these also were not ncharted waters, yet these also concealed fatef l perils. … @@@@@@@@@@@@ '?C: :A, TC /5NA 1!11, the $mperial (onference in =ondon had taken p arbitration iss es+ immigration within the Ampire and amongst the Dominions+ cable comm nications+ - risdiction over imperial appeals+ merchant shipping+ the 0All-?ed2 :ail ?o te, ne9pected company in her
the ) eE (anal+ and, on 1G / ne, wireless telegraphy. New Nealand proposed that 0the great importance of wireless telegraphy for social, commercial, and defensive p rposes renders it desirable that the scheme of wireless telegraphy approved at the (onference held at :elbo rne in December 1!7! be e9tended, as far as practicable, thro gho t the Ampire, with the ltimate ob-ect of establishing a chain of >ritish )tateowned wireless stations, which, in emergency, wo ld enable the Ampire to be to a great e9tent independent of s bmarine cables2# which, on 1G / ne, was accepted by the (onference. :r )am el, by then > 9ton2s s ccessor as &ostmaster-.eneral, was very eloF ent pon the s b-ect in the *ome .overnment2s behalf# 0$n the opinion of the .overnment of the 5nited Hingdom it is very desirable that a chain of wireless stations sho ld be established within the Ampire, partly for strategical and partly for commercial reasons. (ables, of co rse, are always liable to be c t in time of war. …O$Pt sho ld be a )tate-owned system. If it were in the hands of a company it could not fail to be a monopoly, and in an even hi her de ree than the cables are a monopoly….2 … @@@@@@@@@@@@ … There, there, was the rift in the l te. The $rish might accept this as a temporary and half-meas re+ b t it was not eno gh, as
events were to show. $t was to this nworkable compromise, however, that the .overnment were committed, and nothing co ld be allowed to impede the passage of the >ill, lest the .overnment fall. Not even the deaths of fifteen h ndred so ls, a - dicial enF iry, and a (abinet scandal. @@@@@@@@@@@@ T*A $DAA C' AN $:&A?$A= Wireless (hain, a long-wave broadcasting system linking the Ampire from colony to dominion to *ome, had been floated in 1!17. :r )ydney > 9ton was then &ostmaster-.eneral+ in 1!1" he was &resident of the >oard of Trade. The :arconi (ompany had made the r nning in proposing and seeking s ch a contract from *: .overnment+ and *: .overnment were prepared to make a deal. Aven then, altho gh the conscio s mind of most members of all parties in the *o se recoiled from the prospect, the fear of war against .ermany had beg n already to work pon the >ritish s bconscio s+ and for military as well as commercial and political reasons, it was arg ed that a chain of wireless stations sho ld be far s perior and more sec re than cables that might be c t or interfered with. This was partly right % and wholly wrong. When A g st 1!18 broke pon the world, the first and perhaps most momento s act
of (h rchill2s Admiralty and the .&C cable ships was to c t and dredge p the .erman transatlantic cables. What this in t rn meant was that ?oom 87 co ld and did then pl ck from the air the .erman wireless transmissions, and decode them# incl ding the fatal Nimmermann Telegram seeking to draw :e9ico into an attack on the 5nited )tates that wo ld force the Americans to stay o t of the .reat War in which they were, to that point, ne tral. $t had, of co rse, the opposite effect# decrypted and handed to the Americans, it forced even Woodrow Wilson to abandon ne trality, and to enter into the War on the Allied side. !inis "ermani#$ *ad the :arconi system of the proposed $mperial Wireless (hain been in place in 1!18, it sho ld s rely have been in se# *:. were not going to pay for it and not se it. .ermany sho ld then have been in the same position of interception and decryption as >ritain was to be vis-Q-vis .ermany, despite the inability of the %aiserliche &arine % having no s periority at sea and being bottled p by the ?oyal Navy % to have c t >ritish cables at sea+ and >ritish cables on land sho ld have been and in the event were accessible to the destr ction or interference, or tapping, of the (entral &owers. ,et there was, as wo ld emerge, more to the :arconi proposal, and to the (abinet2s acF iescence in it, than those considerations. @@@@@@@@@@@@
… And, s ddenly, in this welter of $rish affairs, personalities, and party politics, the fate of a f t re enF iry into the deaths of n mero s $rish people was sealed. 0Wee /oe2 Devlin, hon. member for >elfast West, setter-aside of bishops2 restraints, betrayer of William C2>rien, distiller, yellow -o rnalist, .randmaster for life of the :ollies, anti-&arnellite, deadly foe of ?edmond, spoilsman and -obber, inter-ected what seemed a mere debating point. 0$s the hon. gentleman aware that the head of one of the greatest ind stries in >elfast is a *ome ? lerR2 0$ am F ite well aware of =ord &irrie2s history. $ am also aware that in the demonstration that took place three days ago in >elfast, his workmen t rned o t almost to a man to hear the =eader of the Cpposition.2 'rom that moment, the yard that b ilt Titanic was politically nto chable by the =iberal government that had moved the *ome ? le >ill. …___…
From Chapter Three:
"ello# ma $a$ # hello# ma hone
… '(N) &( * %I'' +Y wire, baby, my heart-s on fire$ $n April 1!1", to have sent a kiss by wire aboard an Atlantic liner was possible# indeed, passenger traffic and inane chatter was the primary -ob of the :arconi operators aboard# b t that kiss ;–.– .. … …< wo ld have been transmitted as a series of dots and dashes. Wireless comm nication at sea was in code, not by voice. … @@@@@@@@@@@@ A.A$N AND A.A$N investigation of Titanic2s loss, the role of
the :arconi companies and their commercial methods is eF ivocal at best, and appears at every - nct re of crisis. There is a more than ample irony in the statement that, 0OtPhose who have been saved have been saved thro gh one man, :r :arconi and his wonderf l invention2# firstly beca se in takes no acco nt of the :arconi companies2 role in contrib ting to the loss of life, and secondly beca se the trib te was that of *erbert )am el, > 9ton2s s ccessor as &ostmaster-.eneral and one of those implicated in the :arconi )candal.
$f the )enate2s (ommerce (ommittee, its investigatory s bcommittee, and the 5) .overnment generally, were comparatively free of reg latory capt re before the disaster, they were nF estionably capt red by )ignor :arconi himself d ring the co rse of the investigation. *is eminence as a practical scientist, his freedom % as an $talian of half-$rish antecedents % from any perception of >ritish infl ence, his obliging nat re and apparent willingness to assist the s bcommittee with his e9pertise, and his near-monopoly of that e9pertise, inevitably allowed him to capt re the reg lators. $t is diffic lt to overstate the regard in which he was held in 1!1"# he was a greater and more celebrated applied scientist, in the p blic mind, than Adison or Tesla ;from the latter of whom, amongst n mero s others, he had stolen gleef lly, as patent litigation then and after nF estionably demonstrated<+ he had the pioneering a ra that sho ld after attach to the yo ng =indbergh+ he was the toast of the $talian-American constit ency ;and of the $rish<. *e had not yet become as he after did a symbol of monopoly, crony capitalism, bribery, the theft of intellect al property, and the f ll-throated embrace of a 'ascism that in 1!1" had not yet been conceived. *e was regarded as being a Wise :an and a & blic >enefactor on the level of an Ale9ander .raham >ell. As for the >ritish .overnment, )ignor :arconi, a distant co sin of that ed cated and elegant officer Do glas *aig and
son-in-law of an $rish peer, was indeed not owned by *:.. $n a sense, he owned them. The :arconi )candal had not come to light+ b t it, and the whole tort o s % and tortio s % series of dealings that cl stered aro nd the $mperial Wireless (hain, had already occ rred. And it is not witho t interest that the &ostmaster-.eneral in the =iberal (abinet when, in 1!17, the idea of the $mperial Wireless (hain % and a :arconi contract for it % was first br ited, was in 1!1" the &resident of the >oard of Trade, the right hon. :r )ydney > 9ton :&, member for &oplar in the =iberal interest. … @@@@@@@@@@@@ T*A :A?(CN$ )(ANDA= to have m ch of the same
dimensions as the &anama Affaire had had in 'rench politics % incl ding giving new 0respectability2 to anti-)emitism. The revelations of what had occ rred with and beca se of the wireless operations aboard Titanic, and the already-envenomed relations in the *o se that derived from s ch ca ses as the Archer-)hee case and the *ome ? le >ill, wo ld make it so. …
From Chapter Four: ?:) Titanic )ANH NC?T* Atlantic waters, not far from (ape
?ace and the Newfo ndland >anks, on the night of 18S1G April 1!1", with the loss of fifteen h ndred so ls. )he had left K eenstown in distracted $reland with all the lifeboat capacity that law and reg lation reF ired, and the latest in comm nications technology. Neither was adeF ate# even witho t considering that, nder a close reading of applicable reg lation, she carried more lifeboat capacity than reF ired by law. ?ightly and inevitably, the cry went p, )omething : st >e Done. The problem for the governmental enF iries that followed was less what to do, than how to do what might be done witho t condemning 5) immigration laws+ e9onerating the wicked Tr sts in the midst of an election year in which Teddy ?oosevelt was taking on the inc mbent Taft for not b sting eno gh Tr sts+ e9posing the :arconi (ompany in which ministers of the (rown held illicit stakes+ ins lting 5lster workers in a >elfast shipyard owned by a =iberal s pporter of *ome ? le for $reland, whose ship had - st now drowned any n mber of emigrating $rish (atholics+ wrecking the *ome ? le >ill+ F eering the pitch for the $mperial Wireless (hain+ and bringing down *is :a-esty2s .overnment. Within those limits, not a few of which co ld not be so m ch
as mentioned to the (ongress, the *o se of (ommons, and the Wreck (ommissioner, =ord :ersey, the enF iries were perfectly free and above-board. @@@@@@@@@@@@ T*A Titanic WA) a tragedy+ for the American government
as for the >ritish, it was a potential political problem+ and for not a few American and >ritish politicians, it was a political opport nity. 'or its owners, it was a disaster at best, and, at worst, potentially, a doom. And it was who those owners were that sho ld make all the difference in the politics and cond ct of the >ritish and American enF iries, and what - stice co ld be, in both senses, afforded. @@@@@@@@@@@@ T*A :$(*$.AN, William Alden )mith, was a
/5N$C? )ANATC? '?C:
railway attorney, a .reat =akes shipping proprietor, a &op list to the e9tent politically necessary, a &rogressive from conviction, a ?ep blican from ancestral inheritance ;and, thro gh that same ,ankee-gone-West heritage, a member of the &ark, or 'irst, (ongregationalist (h rch<, and % like many :idwestern ?ep blican politicians and their co nterpart )o thern Democrats
% a newspaper proprietor ;in his case, in .rand ?apids<, telling the comm nity what it tho ght and confirming its notions to it in windy prose. As a (ongressman, he had shown himself a master of gl tino s flag-wagging rhetoric, notably over the anne9ation of *awaii and America2s civilising mission that b t resembled in o tward form lesser and baser-motivated imperialisms. *e was not in 1!1" notably isolationist, save to the e9tent any :idwestern politician was forced to be# the )enate had mainly occ pied itself in 1!11 with three great ca ses# pensions for (ivil War veterans and their widows and children ;5nion only, of co rse<, protective tariffs, and the hard fight over international arbitration treaties with the 5H and 'rance. )enator )mith, when he voted % which was not nearly so often as his colleag e the senior senator from :ichigan# William Alden )mith missed well over half the votes in his )enate career % had favo red arbitration and resisted wrapping himself in the flag of n mero s amendments proclaiming American sovereignty and reserving certain iss es, from immigration policy to the :onroe Doctrine, from arbitration. *is hand-picked editor back in .rand ?apids, one Arth r Iandenberg, wo ld event ally become a trib ne of isolation, and )enator )mith himself was to be an opponent of the =eag e of Nations in 1!1M and after+ b t in 1!1", he was not noted for any great degree of isolationism. $n fact, in 1!1", altho gh he, more even than other
members of the )enate and the *o se, tho ght himself presidential timber ;a del sion from which vanishingly few senators and representatives are wholly free when they gaEe enrapt red into their mirrors of a morning<, J )enator )mith wasn2t noted for m ch of anything. *e was amiable, amenable, biddable, and at once boyish and silver-haired in the conventional senatorial mode. *e didn2t have any partic lar anim s against the shipping interest as s ch+ he didn2t have any pre- dice against immigrant ships so long as they didn2t sink# as was so for most politicians in the 5pper :idwest, m ch of his constit ency was composed of )candinavian immigrants, Aspl nds and Nilssons and Thmans and the occasional &eltomUki, who were precisely the immigrants, along with the $rish, the > ckleys and .allaghers and C2Driscolls and )canlans, most carried by the White )tar liners from =iverpool and )o thampton. *e didn2t have any special detestation of the >ritish, or of Anglo-American b siness vent res … unless they were trusts$ *e was a tr st-b ster of long standing, with a personal contempt for /& :organ# and it was the fate of White )tar and Titanic to be part of an international tr st behind which )enator )mith knew and saw the hideo s visage of :organ the Wicked. The loss of Titanic was a tragedy, a sorrow, an event that
J )enator &rice Daniel, )nr, of Te9as, comes to mind as one of the few e9ceptions, along with *arry ) Tr man of :isso ri, who wished fervently not to become even Iice &resident.
horrified the most hardened+ yet for )enator )mith and no few others, it was also, however tragic and horrible, and however sensible they might be of its pathos, a political windfall. @@@@@@@@@@@@ T*AT .5.=$A=:C :arconi, the m ch-fVted, was also )o nd on $reland was not to be forgotten by (abinet. : ch more pertinent to the press res pon the enF iries into Titanic2s loss, was that fatal passage in (ommons on 1" April "71", as *:. moved the *ome ? le >ill# :? DAI=$N ;>A='A)T WA)T<# $s the hon. gentleman aware that the head of one of the greatest ind stries in >elfast is a *ome ? lerR :? =AI,-=AW)CN ;:$=A AND<# $ am F ite well aware of =ord &irrie2s history. $ am also aware that in the demonstration that took place three days ago in >elfast, his workmen t rned o t almost to a man to hear the =eader of the Cpposition. =ord &irrie, it was not to be forgotten ;least of all by (abinet< was the chairman of *arland 4 Wolff, shipb ilders of >elfast. *e was a &rotestant, a =iberal, and a s pporter of *ome ? le whose s pport % as a peer and a &rotestant % it was indispensable to pray in aid of the *ome ? le >ill. $n the moment in which he was mentioned in the *o se, two days
before the ship his yard had b ilt was to sink so terribly, the fate of the Titanic enF iry was set. @@@@@@@@@@@@ NC Titanic2s sinking and the loss of fifteen
DC5>T T*A T?A.AD, C'
h ndred so ls affected )enator )mith, as it affected all who heard of it. $t is pardonable nonetheless to wonder whether, had she carried more $rish immigrants and a complement of $talians or .reeks in steerage, rather than the )candinavian immigrants who made p so m ch of the )enator2s home constit ency, he sho ld have been F ite so F ick off the mark in taking to himself the investigation into her loss. / st as the so-far hidden infl ence of the :arconi dealings and the debate over *ome ? le affected every aspect of the >ritish enF iry, so also m st it never be forgotten that 1!1" was a presidential election year in the 5nited )tates, in which the &rogressive ?ep blicans were at daggers drawn with &resident Taft# and every action in American politics, includin the Titanic investi ation, m st be meas red against that r le. * man feelings or no h man feelings, no politician on either side of the Atlantic had p re motives in seiEing pon one or another position with reference to Titanic and her loss. … @@@@@@@@@@@@
/& :C?.AN % / &$A?&CNT :C?.AN % was not a bad or wicked man. *e was an AliEabethan, born o t of his proper time. =ike another famo s :organ, also, and like not a few of the other Welsh, incl ding the (hancellor of the A9cheF er in 1!1", he was a privateer when he co ld obtain letters of marF e and a pirate when these were sadly nobtainable. *e was a ch rchman, a good neighbo r, c ltivated, charitable, and % after G.7 and before !.7 the ne9t morning % kindly. Nor was his besetting sin that of personal greed# he fo ght his shareholders2 corner. *e considered, and not witho t ca se, that he deserved well of his co ntry+ he considered, and not witho t ca se, that he had all b t single-handedly saved his co ntry2s financial and banking systems amidst &anic and (rash, when government was paralysed and str ck d mb. And he was a walking instance of Adam )mith2s warning that b sinessmen do not so m ch as to take l ncheon together witho t conspiring in restraint of trade. The only colo rable arg ment against capitalism is the behavio r of capitalists, as the arg ment against the (h rch is the behavio r of (hristians. $n the first instance, at any event ;theology being o twith the scope of this work<, the behavio r of capitalists that brings capitalism into disrep te is precisely not capitalistic behavio r. The great enemy of crony capitalism is the tr e capitalist. ,et the n-capitalistic behavio r of capitalists % heretical, as it were, behavio r % is the res lt of powerf l temptations, diffic lt to resist# and specially so for the larger
concerns, >ig > siness. The larger the b siness concern, the more favo rably it regards, despite its lo d b t pro forma protests, governmental reg lation. After all, the governmental reg lations establishing a minim m standard of behavio r or safety or what have yo , inevitably become the ma9im m standard, and a defence in law. The politicians and b rea crats who establish these reg lations are either nescient in the technical aspects of the matter, in which case they are amenable to being g ided and informed by the e9pertise of ind stry, or, if they are themselves technically informed, are amenable to rem nerative positions in that ind stry when they shall have left their ill-paying government posts. $n either case, reg latory capt re is fatally easy for a ma-or ind stry and its larger concerns. All reg lation acts as a drag pon commerce# b t there are always loopholes, commonly inserted by the reg lated ind stry in the process of reg latory capt re and political infl ence, and they are caref lly designed to be e9ploited and e9ploitable only by the large corporations that possess the wherewithal to deploy men of law, chartered acco ntants, and lobbyists by the doEen. 'or a large corporation, government is an annoyance# it is not the enemy. The enemy is competition, and partic larly pstart competition. $t is with b siness concerns as it is with ships# siEe matters. Aven as .lympic and Titanic co ld pset smaller vessels
in their wakes, a large company can e9ploit reg lation to cripple a smaller. A large ship, of considerable b rthen and dra ght, with its centre of gravity well below the waterline, can pass thro gh c rrents and winds that lighter vessels are wrecked by. A reg latory scheme that red ces a large company2s dividend by t ppence can cripple and bankr pt three smaller firms, thereby protecting the large corporation from their wo ld-be competitors2 innovation, invention, s perior c stomer service, and competitive red ction in price. >ig > siness also nat rally en-oys the benefits of crony capitalism, with the )tate in its pocket and contrariwise# a commercial protection racket to which governments of a vag ely =eftist stripe are pec liarly and specially prone. Cf co rse >ig > siness makes the appropriate noises, and rails and screams against oppressive reg lation … all the way to the bank. $n this is the genesis of all tr sts and anti-competitive arrangements. … @@@@@@@@@@@@ W$==$A: *CWA?D TA'T WA) A -ovial behemoth, and the friend of all the world ;bar, by 1!1", Teddy ?oosevelt<# his paternal attit de, ntinct red by racialism, as .overnor of the &hilippines, had left behind a barracks marching-cadence which 5) troops sang when dealing with those 'ilipinos g n-totingly irreconciled to the
benefits of American r le# He may be a brother to +i +ill Taft / +ut he ain-t no kin o- mine$ ,et when Titanic was lost, &resident Taft2s only apparent concern was for the s rvival of, or news of the loss of, his aide, :a-or Archie > tt. *is lack of a larger h man sympathy was no do bt the retreat into min tiW of a man overmastered by grief at a personal loss+ yet it had a n mber of balef l effects, firstly in letting the )enate by defa lt ;and with )enator )mith2s eye to the main chance< con- re and direct the American investigation, and secondly by interfering, thro gh a barrage of harassing :arconi messages, with Carpathia2s comm nications with the shore. @@@@@@@@@@@@ )ANATC? W$==$A: A=DAN ):$T* WA) a &rogressive# with all that the term implied. &art of what it implied was the 0scientific2 racism of the period, from e genics to the notion of racial s periority % specifically, and conveniently for his constit ency, that of 0Nordic2 races s ch as the Anglo-)a9ons and )candinavians and .ermans who were his electors. )o thern )enators were in the main concerned only with skin-colo r# the Hlan, in 1!1", had not yet re-formed as a non-sectional organisation ;note hyphen# 0reformed2# it has never, and in the nat re of things, can never reform<# the )o th had traditionally not been nativist, anti(atholic, or partic larly anti-)emitic, as a look at any roll of its
antebell m politicians and its (onfederate leaders attests. L $t was too obsessed with race, tout court, to concern itself with lesser divisions. $t was left to the &rogressive movement in America ;as to the 'abians in >ritain< to promote e genics, &rohibition, dietary fads, the comp lsory sterilisation of those they deemed 0 nfit2, and preferential treatment in immigration law of 0Nordic2 ;and preferably &rotestant< immigrants. M Aven these, of co rse, m st not enter the &romised =and 0 nfit, given to the se of spirit o s liF ors, diseased, degenerate, idiot, or likely to become a p blic
L $t had been in (harleston, )o th (arolina, that 'rancis )alvador had lived, after coming to the colonies from =ondon# the first /ewish-American soldier to die in the ?evol tionary War, and the first /ew to sit in any American legislat re. The first three /ewish 5) )enators had been David =evy , lee of 'lorida, / dah & >en-amin of =o isiana, and >en-amin 'ranklin /onas, also of =o isiana. All three were Democrats % )o thern Democrats. )enators , lee and >en-amin had been elected before the War. )enator /onas had been elected after the War and ?econstr ction# he had been a ma-or in the (onfederate )tates Army. )enator >en-amin, of co rse, had been the first /ew to attain (abinet rank in a North American government % indeed, bar Disraeli, the first /ewish minister anywhere since the fall of the Norman kingdom in )icily. *aving several times declined appointment to the 5) ) preme (o rt before 1MJ7, / dah & >en-amin had become Attorney .eneral, )ecretary of War, and )ecretary of )tate# in the government of the (onfederate )tates of America, in the (ongress of which nation the former 5) )enator from 'lorida, David , lee, had sat. There was an evident, pro d, disting ished, and considerable /ewish presence in the (onfederate forces# .eneral ? A =ee2s staff s rgeon was >ernard >ar ch2s father, and :oses AEekiel, the great sc lptor, was a (onfederate veteran. Native Americans and *ispanics fo ght for the (onfederacy and achieved high rank in that service. 'ormer 5nited )tates )enator )tephen ? :allory of 'lorida, as (onfederate Navy )ecretary, became the first ?oman (atholic, as :r )ecretary >en-amin was the first /ew, to sit in a North American cabinet, and there was a considerable antebell m ?oman (atholic presence in the )o th that was reflected in a considerable ?oman (atholic contingent nder (onfederate arms. )i9 (onfederate general officers were ?oman (atholics+ after the War, /ames =ongstreet converted to ?oman (atholicism as well. There2s a good deal of irony in American history. Cliver Wendell *olmes, /nr, had fo ght for the 5nion and for abolition and emancipation+ b t the great &rogressive - rist was also to write the ma-ority opinion in +uck v +ell, "L8 5) "77, 8L ). (t. GM8, L1 =. Ad. 1777 ;1!"L<, pholding a program of e genics and comp lsory steriliEation of the 0 nfit2 that wo ld have passed m ster at a N remberg ?ally. ;The sole dissenter was to be / stice &ierce > tler, an $rish (atholic Democrat from :innesota.<
charge2. 'or this reason, 5) immigration law very e9plicitly reF ired the segregation of the aspiring immigrants on the passage to America, a f ll and rather nosy dossier of each in advance of arrival, and the liability of the carrier sho ld any nreported or misreported immigrants arrive to be t rned away from the .olden Door beside which =iberty held her eF ivocal lamp. ;=awrence >eesley reco nted the e9perience of filling o t, on his passage, a lengthy baggage-declaration form 0for non-residents in the 5nited )tates2 and other fiddling, tiresome b rea cratic inconveniences, and he was a respectable schoolmaster travelling second-class.< This had meant, to Titanic2s b ilders, her s rvivors, and Carpathia2s master and his wireless operators, a n mber of nintended conseF ences# an immigrant class who were impeded in evac ation of the stricken ship by the imposed segregation, with m ch attendant loss of life in steerage passengers, for one+ for another, the -ammed airwaves, choked with o tgoing details of s rvivors so as to comply with 5) immigration law. $t meant something more to the )enate s bcommittee )enator )mith had con- red and chaired. $t was politically mandatory, f ll stop, that blame attach to the b ilders, the line, the tr sts, the malefactors of great wealth, the s rvivors, the dead, the >oard of Trade# even, if necessary, to the :arconi operators already being celebrated as heroes# so that none attached to 0' law, 0'
re ulation, and the 0nited 'tates overnment$ &artic larly where the &eople are Hing, the king can do no wrong. 'ar more so even than in >ritain, even with the hidden infl ence pon the >ritish enF iry of what was to become the :arconi )candal and even in regard of the political imperative of the *ome ? le >ill, the fi9, in the 5) investigation, was in from the off. …
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.