Originally created 03/10/99

Titanic tops 1912's news events



James Cameron's epic motion picture brought an event of 1912 to the forefront of the American imagination recently.

Titanic, the ill-fated ship which left Southampton, England, bound for New York, struck an iceberg shortly before midnight on April 14 of that year. More than 1,500 of her 2,200 passengers died as the ship sank about 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland.

Among the passengers was an Augustan, Maj. Archibald Butt, who served as an aide to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

Titanic survivors who were quoted in news reports hailed Maj. Butt as a hero, vowing to ensure with his own life that women and children would make it safely onto the lifeboats. The last person to see him alive said that Maj. Butt was arm in arm with millionaire businessman John Jacob Astor on the bridge of the sinking ship, according to historian Edward Cashin's The Story of Augusta.

President Taft attended a memorial service in Augusta two weeks after the sinking.

Also in 1912, former Augustan Woodrow Wilson won the presidential election by a landslide. Mr. Wilson received 435 electoral votes, while President Taft received eight. Mr. Roosevelt also ran that year, taking 88 electoral votes. This was the only election in U.S. history in which a sitting president and a former president were defeated by another candidate.

Elsewhere in 1912, Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts in Savannah.

In California, Mack Sennett started his Keystone Studios which put Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton in their first films. The Olympics were held in Stockholm, Sweden. The Better Business Bureau was founded in Minneapolis.

Notable births of 1912 included television personality Julia Child, entertainers Dale Evans and Minnie Pearl, golfers Sam Snead and Ben Hogan, and cartoonist Chuck Jones, who created Wiley Coyote and Pepe Le Pew.

Aviation pioneer Wilbur Wright died of typhoid fever in 1912. Others who died that year included Dracula author Bram Stoker and American Red Cross founder Clara Barton.

Charmain Z. Brackett can be reached at (803) 441-6927 or czbrackett@hotmail.com.