Timeline Article: The United Kingdom Mourns, America Asks Questions

Senator William Alden Smith & New York City
in the 1900s.
Friday, April 19, 1912
Early Morning

As the United Kingdom holds a national day of mourning, in America, Senator William Alden Smith convenes an inquiry in New York City the morning after Carpathia arrives with Titanic's survivors. The people of America are in shock after hearing the news of Titanic's fate. Senator Smith moves quickly to issue subpoenas so that he can promptly collect survivor testimonies while the incident is still fresh. 

J.P. Morgan
Smith's colleagues suspect that he has put together the inquiry and appointed himself chairman mainly because he is an outspoken opponent of J.P. Morgan, the owner of International Mercantile Marine, White Star's parent company. 

The first witness called at the inquiry is Bruce Ismay. Senator Smith is not happy with Ismay's performance. Ismay's responses to questions are short, evasive, and lack substance. Whether Smith disbelieves Ismay or simply dislikes him, he seems determined to hold White Star's president responsible for the tragedy.

Bruce Ismay at the inquiry.

Due to inadequate space and terrible acoustics, after two days at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, the inquiry is moved to Washington D.C. The crew members and passengers that haven't received a subpoena are free to return to their lives. The others who are required to testify will have to travel to Washington.

Bruce Ismay will be required to answer further questions after the inquiry is moved. Senator Smith will not release him for eleven days. 

Click here to see the U.S. and British inquiry transcripts and final reports.