The fact that the Titanic didn’t have enough lifeboats for all the passengers was sort of an open secret — and The White Star Line, owner of the Titanic, was able to get away with it because the ship was widely-considered to be “unsinkable.”
Apart from the themes of sadness and loss after the disaster, one recurring motif in many of the editorial cartoons during the days and weeks that followed the disaster of April 14, 1912, was the artists’ commentary on the absurdity of the situation. The Titanic was one of the most luxurious, well-appointed cruise liners ever, with seemingly no expense spared… except when it came to passenger safety in the event of an emergency — and that is a choice that has never been forgotten, or forgiven.
Foresaw tragedy through few lifeboats
Emil Taussig, president of the West Disinfecting Company of New York, who lost his life on the Titanic, made persistent endeavors while alive to get the United States steamship inspection service to enforce regulations that would compel steamships to carry enough boats to give every person on board a seat in case of an accident.
Letters written by Mr. Taussig to the officials of this service at Washington give evidence that he foresaw with remarkable clearness the possibility of Just such a disaster as the one which cost his life. Those letters were written in 1908 and 1909 and are in part as follows:
“It will certainly be calamitous if, at the next disaster which may occur, any of the passengers have lost their lives, simply because there were not lifeboats enough for them to get into. That is a responsibility that nobody would be willing to shoulder.
“In lieu of all these matters brought before you. and your experience in the service. is the board willing to take the responsibility that in case of an accident to a vessel a large number of people lose their lives due to the fact that there were lifeboats carried by the ship to save only a small portion of the passengers?
“Do you want to take the responsibility in view of the added facilities in the direction of entrusting steamships to carry a sufficient number of lifeboats to enable anyone to say these people lost their lives owing to the fact that the board of steamship supervising inspectors did not prescribe or compel steamships to carry more boats?
“Just as sure as you are living and just as sure as there is a sun above us this thing will come to pass sooner or later, unless the rules are amended compelling steamships to carry more boats.”
Syndicated article, as published in The Citizen (Honesdale, Pennsylvania) on May 1, 1912
“The Whited Sepulchre”
Caption: “Luxuries of the sea: Swimming pool, tennis courts, elevators, Palm room, gymnasium, grill room, but FEW LIFE BOATS.”
From The Montgomery Times, Alabama
Everything for enjoying life, but not much to save it.
From the Detroit News
From the New York World
Time to get busy
Uncle Sam: “By Ginger, I’ll take a firmer grip on this business hereafter,” turning a ship wheel with “Navigation laws” written on it, while a “Steamship magnate” looks on.
Book: “The Lost: John Jacob Astor, Henry B. Harris, [Major] Archibald Butt, Washington Roebling, Benj. Guggenheim, J.G. Widener, [Charles] M. Hays, W.T Stead, F.D Millet, Isidor Straus, Cart E.J. Smith. The Saved: J. Bruce Ismay.”
Cast in shadow
Paper: “Titanic Disaster, Final Report”
Globe: “The World”
From the Des Moines Register and Leader
Grieve not, the spirit of Manhood still lives
Paper: “Roll of Honor – ‘Women and children first'”, “First Cabin – Second Cabin – Third cabin – Steerage”, “Lost – 1,310”
From the St. Louis Globe-Democrat
Poster: “Modern Ocean Liner Equipment | Golf course, swimming pool, tennis courts, grand dining saloons, electric elevators, gymnasium, Turkish baths, Verandah cases, glass site baroors, electric baths, squash racquet court”, (overlayed) “More life-saving boats”.
Desk: Paper reads “Titanic” – Desk reads “Steamship Company”