Titanic: The unsinkable ship that sank… the ship at the bottom of the ocean; silent in its watery grave. Titanic: the ship that will not die. I have been fascinated with the Titanic since I first saw it on the cover of National Geographic in 1985 when Robert Ballard discovered her final resting place. I became obsessed with the ship and her story as a teenager when Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet fell in love aboard the doomed liner at the movie theater. The stories of the survivors, the artifacts, the little details overlooked, and new discoveries keep the Titanic very much alive for me.
Of course, with any tragic event on a scale as immense as the Titanic, come conspiracy theories. As a self-proclaimed Titanic history buff, I have heard many of these tales and my curiosity was stirred again this past week when Titanic became a top searched subject on Facebook. The headlines read “A Fire Sunk the Titanic”. A preposterous title indeed as a fire did occur before the maiden voyage but let’s get real: the iceberg sunk the floating “ship of dreams”. The fire may have weakened the steel of the bulk-head compartment but ultimately, the collision with the iceberg caused the demise of the Titanic. But that’s not the conspiracy I want to talk about.
One notion floating among the sea of conspiracy is that of the Federal Reserve. Benjamin Guggenheim, a wealthy American mining magnate, Isador Strauss, founder of Macy’s department stores, and John Jacob Astor, arguably the wealthiest man alive at the time, were all aboard the Titanic that fateful night she sunk to the dark abyss of the Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912. Theories suggest that all three men were stout opposers to the Federal Reserve and that by 1913, the Federal Reserve made its debut in America. Even more tantalizing is the fact that J.P. Morgan’s International Mercantile Marine Company was part of White Star Line which ran Titanic. Apparently, Morgan was to have a private suite aboard Titanic complete with a promenade deck. Ironically or not, J.P. Morgan cancelled his plans to board the Titanic at the last minute and therefore went on to aid in the development of the U.S. Federal Reserve. Was this possible because three of the wealthiest and most influential men opposed to the creation of the Federal Reserve lost their lives’ in the icy waters on that frigid April morning as the Titanic floundered and the impossible became reality?
The problem with conspiracy theories is in its name itself: “theory”. Many lingering questions remain with the Federal Reserve plot. How did J.P. Morgan manage a 52,310 ton “unsinkable” luxury liner to collide with an iceberg and guarantee an ultimate sinking? There is no plausible way he could ensure that Guggenheim, Strauss, and Astor would perish alongside the ship. Isador Strauss’ body was recovered in the icy waters as was John Jacob Astor. Benjamin Guggenheim was never found or at least identified. This is one of many Titanic conspiracies that at first glance clamors for your attention. Research upon research is needed to dispel this notion and even then, we would never know the truth as the truth sank with Titanic alongside the 1,503 souls who perished.
Many may see the Titanic as a broken ship decaying on the ocean floor. I see it as a lifetime of stories; some told and some yet to be heard. To honor the lives’ of those lost, we must tell of their memories and in doing so, the Titanic will become the unsinkable ship that sank but that will never die.