Reaction to the disaster


Sep 4, 2007
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Right after the tragedy, what was the average person's reaction to the news? Did they care? And how far did the news travel - all over the world or just in certain parts of it?
 
Mar 7, 2006
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I research my family history here in the UK, and I have found that even very small circulation provincial newspapers covered the disaster...

James.
 
Sep 4, 2007
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And how did your family, for example, react to the news, would you know?

I'm just trying to get a picture of the scope of the disaster in its heyday. I mean, if even today we still get chills just thinking of Titanic, back then it must have been an enormous deal!???
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I would say that the average persons reaction was strong enough that the newspapers kept on following the story through at least the two inquiries and survivor accounts were much sought after. (Whether they really came from survivors or not.) Politicians, activists, and preachers got quite a bit of milage out of it as well.

Not the sort of outcome you would expect to see if people were indifferent to the event.
 
Mar 7, 2006
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>>And how did your family, for example, react to the news, would you know? <<

My Grandfather James Josiah Robinson, born 1900, and died 1981. I never recall discussing it with him. He had a working class background, and after the newspapers had stopped reporting it, he would be to busy trying to earn a living to think about it.

Titanic like family history, is much easier to research now. Although we have the dis-advamtage of being father way from the actual events, records are much more easily available.

If Jim in say the 1930s had tried to research his family history by knocking on the local vicarage and asking to look at the records, he would have told its none of his buisiness!

James.
 
Mar 20, 2007
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My impression is that the 'Titanic' disaster had an enormous impact on the general publics of both Great Britain and the United States, burning an indelible mark of the consciousness of all those old enough at the time to appreciate the enormity of the tragedy. I've read very widely among the diaries, memoirs and autobiographies of the period, and of the decades following, and one soon appreciates that even those individuals not directly involved through the loss of friends and loved ones grew to perceive the event as a historical landmark, in much the same way as the Stock Market Crash of '29, the Kennedy shooting or the fall of the Berlin Wall. And I'm not talking about the 'importance' of the sinking either - I'm not wholly comfortable with notion, still very prevalent, that the 'Titanic' somehow marked the end of one era and the beginning of another. I'm merely saying that the coverage at the time, and the way the story captured the popular or collective imagination, made (and makes) it one of the greatest news sensations of the modern age.
 

Mick Molloy

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Nov 29, 2002
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Western People 4th May 1912

"One of the saddest sights ever witnessed in the West of Ireland was the waking of the five girls and one man from a village near Lahardane, who went down with the ill-fatec Titanic. They were all from the same village , and when the news of the appalling catastrophe reached their friends the whole community was plunged into unutterable grief. They cherished for a time a remote hope that they were saved, but when the dread news of their terrible fate arrived, a feeling of excruciating anguish took the place.

For two days and two nights wakes were held. The photograph of each victim was placed on the bed on which they had slept before leaving home and kindred. The beds were covered with snow white quilts and numbers of candles were lighted around.

The wailing and moaning of people was very distressing and would almost draw a tear from a stone. ........."
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I'm not wholly comfortable with notion, still very prevalent, that the 'Titanic' somehow marked the end of one era and the beginning of another.<<

That's because it really didn't. It serves in the mind as something of a benchmark but I wouldn't even call it the beginning of the end of the Edwardian era. World War One seems a much better candidate for that. By the time it ended, millions were dead, the maps had been redrawn because entire nations no longer existed, and the chain of events which led to World War Two and everything which followed had already been set in motion.

Titanic had nothing to do with that.
 
Oct 19, 2007
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I believe that the day the news story came in might have been something similar to the vacuum that occurs directly following the 9/11 attacks. Although not exactly in far reaching impact, but in the confusion, in the stories of heroism, in the sympathy. I also believe that it touched on the unthinkable--an unpredictable--experience. Countries that had nothing to do with the sinking itself have movies about it (I believe I saw a German film not too long )
Everyone knows what you mean when you say something is like the Titanic--doomed etc but how many have heard of the Sultana (sank in the Mississippi, 1500 dead). The reaction must have been great for so many people across so large an area to know about it.
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"Titanic, name and thing, will stand as a monument and warning to human presumption."
The Bishop of Winchester, preaching in Southampton, 1912.

Andrea
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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I'd like to see reactions from places like India and China. My Chinese e-mate has managed to find a little in the Hong Kong press, but it doesn't seem to have made a great impression. Has anybody seen anything?
 
Mar 20, 2007
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An interesting point. I imagine that the British-owned newspapers in India - still very much part of our empire at that time - would have given a fair degree of coverage to the disaster. The regional or 'district' press in the relevant area would no doubt have reported the loss, for example, of Annie Funk. China...well, who knows? I'm assuming that the story would have been of very limited interest to the Chinese themselves, although ex-pats living and working over there may have discussed it at the club.

I do know that the sinking of the 'Titanic' caused a massive sensation in England, the States and (to a slightly lesser extent) on the Continent. I live on a street of late nineteenth-century houses in south-west London and often think of that April morning when the newsboys would have run down, shouting their tidings of the disaster, and bringing the story into every home. Obviously, the limitations of technology would have done something to lessen the impact - no deluge of live coverage on the television, no satellite link-ups - but, as far as I understand, no family remained unaware of the scale and significance of the event. I've been fortunate to read the letters swapped by members of the European royal families, expressing their horror and sadness...individuals like Cynthia Asquith, Violet Bonham-Carter and Alan Lascelles all recorded it at length in their diaries...memorial services were packed out...the reverberations really were felt for weeks and months afterwards.

The 'celebrity' status and high public profiles of many of the victims partially explains this but perhaps what really hit home was the sheer human cost of the disaster, occurring so unexpectedly and seeming even more terrible for that reason.
 

Jason D. Tiller

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the sinking of the 'Titanic' caused a massive sensation in England, the States and (to a slightly lesser extent) on the Continent.
It also had a huge effect on Canada (which was a part of the British Empire at the time) as well, especially here in Toronto. The mayor at the time organized a relief fund to aid the victims families, which collected a substantial amount of money.

People came out in droves to honour the memory of the victims; just as anyone else was, they were shocked and saddened. Even the inquiries made front page news everyday and it was the talk of the town for months.
 
Mar 20, 2007
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In every part of Canada? I recall reading a letter Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught (then serving as Governor General) wrote home to his sister, Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, in which he comments that mercifully few English-speaking Canadians had been lost, as opposed to those from the French provinces.

I'd need to find the exact quotation, and I freely admit that my knowledge of Canadian history is limited (to practically nothing!), but I found it interesting that, in that part of the world at least, the tragedy was regarded as rather less of an 'English' concern.

Could just be a matter of my interpretation, of course.
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Hi Martin,

Well, perhaps not the entire country per say, but a good portion of it anyway. But, I wasn't referring to that. I'm talking about Halifax (of course), Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Toronto (as I already mentioned); Ottawa, Montreal, Victoria and perhaps a few others.

but I found it interesting that, in that part of the world at least, the tragedy was regarded as rather less of an 'English' concern.
I disagree and that's never been my interpretation. My read on it is, that people no matter if they were English or French speaking still felt much sorrow and grief. Similar to saying that the Chinese didn't feel sad about it, whereas the Hungarian's did and as we know, both cultures were represented on board.
 
May 1, 2004
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Perhaps HRH the Duke of Connaught was biased toward the English-Canadians, being English rather than French by birth, or against the French-Canadians. I hope not, but our two founding strains did not (and do not) get along in complete harmony. If so, it was not the last time that a Royal put a prejudice befouled foot in the mouth.
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Hi Marilyn,

Perhaps HRH the Duke of Connaught was biased toward the English-Canadians, being English rather than French by birth, or against the French-Canadians.
Good point, it's a possibility. Just like the English and the French don't get along.

our two founding strains did not (and do not) get along in complete harmony.
How true! Some things just never change.
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Jason

I can easily, and will gladly, supply the exact quotation from, and appropriate reference for, the Duke's letter to his sister. My notes are currently at home in the country so it may have to wait until I make a return visit in a fortnight or so. I'll also collect the quotations from Vera Brittain, Violet Bonham-Carter, Cynthia Asquith and Alan Lascelles I referenced in my earlier post.

Marilyn

'Perhaps HRH the Duke of Connaught was biased toward the English-Canadians, being English rather than French by birth, or against the French-Canadians. I hope not, but our two founding strains did not (and do not) get along in complete harmony.'

I'm afraid to say that this is PRECISELY my interpretation. HRH was relieved that the disaster had taken rather less of a toll among English-Canadians than French-Canadians. Although I don't necessarily see this as evidence of ill-will or animosity on his part...he was simply saying that the section of the community he, as an Englishman, felt closest to had not suffered as much as the other. It should be remembered that the Duke's daughter, Princess Patricia of Connaught, who was enormously popular with Canadians at this time, was an old friend and client of Lady Duff Gordon, so it would be foolish to assume that the family felt NO personal involvement with 'Titanic' victims or survivors.

As a matter of interest (because I'm ignorant on this point)...how DID the Canadian contingent in first-class break down? The Baxters and Suzette Douglas were, I think, French speaking. However, I've always assumed that Peuchen, the Allisons, the Fortunes, the Hayses and the Davidsons were more closely affiliated to the English community.
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Dec 3, 2000
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Hi Martin,

I can easily, and will gladly, supply the exact quotation from, and appropriate reference for, the Duke's letter to his sister.
Thanks, I appreciate it. Whenever you can post it is fine, but no rush.

I'm afraid to say that this is PRECISELY my interpretation. HRH was relieved that the disaster had taken rather less of a toll among English-Canadians than French-Canadians.
Pardon me, I did not realize that this is what you were saying in your previous post. With that in mind, then I agree with you that HRH felt more of a personal attachment to the English-Canadians, rather than the French-Canadians.
 
May 3, 2005
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The news was probably reported in all the newspapers in the United States...at least those with connections with the Associated Press. It made the headlines on the Dallas Morning News.
 

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