The Titanic – A 3rd Class Passenger’s Hopes and a President’s Bereavement

On April 14, 1912, the “unsinkable” RMS Titanic sank two and a half miles to the ocean floor; of 2,223 people aboard, only 703 survived. In commemoration of this date, let’s take a look at two fascinating artifacts related to this tragedy.

On board the Titanic was a 22-year-old valet named Charlie Shorney, who had paid eight pounds one shilling for Third Class passage. His fiancée awaited him in New York, where he hoped to start a taxicab business upon his arrival. Here is a postcard Shorney sent to his father as the Titanic left Queenstown for New York. Charlie went down with the Titanic, together with 75% of the Third Class passengers.

Rare Titanic Postcard Sent at Beginning of Voyage; Ship “a Peach”, in “N.Y. Next Tuesday.”
Rare Titanic Postcard Sent at Beginning of Voyage; Ship “a Peach”, in “N.Y. Next Tuesday.”

The Titanic brought men from vastly different worlds to a shared end.

Major Archibald Butt, a popular military aide to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, perished as well. Roosevelt spoke of his shock and grief; Taft was devastated.

In eulogizing his aide, President Taft wrote that he regarded Archie Butt like a younger brother – a member of his family. In his memorial, Taft lauds him as a Christian gentleman and perfect soldier:

I knew that he would certainly remain on the ship’s deck until every duty had been performed and every sacrifice made that properly fell on one charged, as he would feel himself charged, with responsibility for the rescue of others.

There are widely conflicting accounts of Butt’s actions before his death; he was last seen standing on the sinking deck with John Jacob Astor.

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