Title Page || 1: Construction and Preparations for the First Voyage
The circumstances in which this book came to be written are as
follows. Some five weeks after the survivors from the Titanic landed
in New York, I was the guest at luncheon of Hon. Samuel J. Elder and
Hon. Charles T. Gallagher, both well-known lawyers in Boston. After
luncheon I was asked to relate to those present the experiences of the
survivors in leaving the Titanic and reaching the Carpathia.
When I had done so, Mr. Robert Lincoln O'Brien, the editor of the
Boston Herald, urged me as a matter of public interest to write
a correct history of the Titanic disaster, his reason being that he
knew several publications were in preparation by people who had not
been present at the disaster, but from newspaper accounts were piecing
together a description of it. He said that these publications would
probably be erroneous, full of highly coloured details, and generally
calculated to disturb public thought on the matter. He was supported
in his request by all present, and under this general pressure I
accompanied him to Messrs. Houghton Mifflin Company, where we
discussed the question of publication.
Messrs. Houghton Mifflin Company took at that time exactly the same
view that I did, that it was probably not advisable to put on record
the incidents connected with the Titanic's sinking: it seemed better
to forget details as rapidly as possible.
However, we decided to take a few days to think about it. At our next
meeting we found ourselves in agreement again,—but this time on the
common ground that it would probably be a wise thing to write a
history of the Titanic disaster as correctly as possible. I was
supported in this decision by the fact that a short account, which I
wrote at intervals on board the Carpathia, in the hope that it would
calm public opinion by stating the truth of what happened as nearly as
I could recollect it, appeared in all the American, English, and
Colonial papers and had exactly the effect it was intended to have.
This encourages me to hope that the effect of this work will be the
Another matter aided me in coming to a decision,—the duty that we, as
survivors of the disaster, owe to those who went down with the ship,
to see that the reforms so urgently needed are not allowed to be
Whoever reads the account of the cries that came to us afloat on the
sea from those sinking in the ice-cold water must remember that they
were addressed to him just as much as to those who heard them, and
that the duty, of seeing that reforms are carried out devolves on
every one who knows that such cries were heard in utter helplessness
the night the Titanic sank.