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“Ismay Tells Senate Committee Titanic Was Not Seeking Speed Record . . . ,” The Washington Times, Washington, D.C., April, 19, 1912

White Star Line chairman J. Bruce Ismay’s testimony was crucial to the Senate subcommittee in determining White Star’s liability for the disaster. Ismay denied having any contact with the ship’s captain, and an 1851 United States law limiting the liability of ship owners protected White Star from being accountable for any loss of life or property.

Serial and Government Publications Division, Library of Congress

“Ismay Tells Senate Committee Titanic Was Not Seeking Speed Record . . . ,” The Washington Times, Washington, D.C., April, 19, 1912

The Sinking of the RMS Titanic

On April 14, 1912, the British ship Titanic collided with an iceberg and sank. More than 1,500 of those aboard died, including scores of Americans. To understand the cause of the accident, a Senate Committee on Commerce subcommittee acted quickly to obtain testimony from survivors, witnesses, rescuers, and officials. The subcommittee concluded that the catastrophe was an “act of God,” but criticized certain actions of the Titanic’s builders, owners, and crew. Congress responded with the Radio Act of 1912 and other legislation to improve maritime safety.

Our course was simple and plain—to gather the facts relating to this disaster while they were still vivid realities. . . . It was vital that the entire matter should be reviewed before an American tribunal if legislative action was to be taken for future guidance on international maritime safety.

Senator William A. Smith of Michigan, Speech to the Senate, May 28, 1912