Even the sinking of the Titanic has truthers… The sinking of the RMS Titanic on Apr. 15, 1912, was one of the most traumatic events of the pre-World War I Western world. It involved a ship that nobody believed could go down sinking on its first voyage after an incident that it should have survived, causing a massive loss of life.
- From the beginning, there were questions about how this could have happened. The disaster was simply unthinkable.
- And when something truly unthinkable happens anyway, conspiracy theories arise to explain it away. The questions that were asked in the wake of the ship’s sinking haven’t gone away, even though we’ve known the basics of what happened since shortly after the accident.
- A hundred years has spawned a number of Titanic sinking conspiracy theories, alleging that the sinking wasn’t the result of the ship going too fast through a field of icebergs, but a deliberate attempt to fool the public, assassinate various passengers, or part of a complex insurance scam by Titanic’s builder: the White Star Line. They’re also the inevitable result of a shocked populace trying to make sense out of what was the worst maritime disaster in history.
Despite having received six warnings of sea ice on her route to New York, the ship was traveling near her maximum speed when she entered an area called “Iceberg Alley.”
- With no moon and little giving away the icebergs’ positions, the ship’s lookouts didn’t see an iceberg until it was too close.
- Unable to turn quickly enough, the ship was scrapped by an iceberg that gashed her starboard side, flooding six compartments, including two boiler rooms. Though the ship has been billed as “unsinkable,” the crew realized the damage control measures were inadequate and the ship was doomed.
- Within two hours, she had gone down. Because it didn’t have enough lifeboats, the crew wasn’t well-trained in emergency procedures, and many passengers believed the alarms going off were a prank or exercise, 1,514 of the 2,220 people on board died.
Did the Titanic’s sinking lead to the Federal Reserve being started?
The founding of the American central bank the Federal Reserve has spawned a legion of conspiracy theories. The fact that it took place just a year after the Titanic sank has led to the doomed ship being pulled into some of these theories. Central banking was a very controversial topic at the time, and the maiden voyage of the Titanic had three of the wealthiest Americans living at the time: John Jacob Astor IV, Benjamin Guggenheim, and Isidor Straus.
- As the theory goes, these men were the most high-profile opponents of the Federal Reserve, but their deaths would clear the way for the bank’s creation.
- So they were murdered in a purposeful sinking organized and planned by J.P. Morgan, the wealthy industrialist who held a significant ownership share of White Star Line and played a critical role in launching the Federal Reserve.
- The plot was so dastardly that Morgan himself canceled his booking on the Titanic at the last minute, making him look like a recipient of great luck, rather than the organizer of a conspiracy to commit mass murder.
Sure enough, Astor, Guggenheim, and Straus all died aboard the ship—and the Federal Reserve launched the next year.
Is there any truth to the J.P Morgan Titanic conspiracy?
It’s true that the three industrialists died in the sinking, while Morgan canceled his booking. But the timeline and facts don’t match up. Straus actually supported the Federal Reserve, while the others had no position on it.
- The three living would have done nothing to stop the bank from being launched, as the Federal Reserve Act easily passed both houses of Congress in 1913, and the U.S. had already attempted a central banking system several times previously. Beyond that, sources of the time have Guggenheim booking his spot on the ship after Morgan canceled, meaning the conspiracy very nearly wouldn’t have worked in the first place.
- There’s also no indication in the conspiracy theory of how Morgan would have ensured the ship sinks.
- Did he order the crew to hit an iceberg?
- Why would they take his orders, knowing they weren’t prepared for the catastrophe to come? What if the ship had survived?
The conspiracy often takes on other layers, such as a conglomerate of Rothschild family bankers and Jesuits actually ordering the ship’s captain to hit the iceberg—but again, this would have meant death for the captain, who would have gone down with the ship. The theory briefly got a surge of recognition when the conspiracy avatar QAnon mentioned it in Nov. 2017.