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Video:The Sinking of the Titanic

with David Wilson

The sinking of the Titanic was a tragedy of epic proportions, with more than 1,500 passengers and crew lost to the icy waters of the Atlantic. Learn more about this infamous event in this history video from About.comSee Transcript

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Transcript:The Sinking of the Titanic

Hi, my name is David Wilson. I'm an historian and a teacher of U.S. and World History, here today for About.com, and we're going to be talking about the sinking of the Titanic.

The Optimism of the Early 20th Century

In the earliest parts of the 20th Century, there existed a new level of optimism and confidence born out of the Industrial Revolution and advancements in science. It was thought by many, that the ingenuity of man had finally tamed nature. Few things seem to embody this feeling as much as the RMS Titanic, which at the time was the world's largest ocean liner.

The Titanic's Ill-Fated Voyage Begins

Titanic was built over a three-year period in Belfast, Ireland for the the White Star Line. The mammoth ship was dubbed by many as unsinkable due to her modern design and construction. Ironically, it was this design that, in part, contributed to her unexpected sinking during her maiden voyage.

Titanic's ill-fated maiden voyage launched from Southampton, England on April 10, 1912 with a final destination of New York. The ship set sail with 2,240 passengers and crew on board, among them some of the wealthiest members of the upper crust of British and American society. On the evening of April 14th, Titanic sailed the calm seas of the North Atlantic on a moonless night.

The Titanic's First Warnings of Danger

Throughout the day the liner had received warnings from other ships about the presence of icebergs. Captain Edward J. Smith, the most experienced seaman in the White Star Line, however, was unaware of the gravity of the reports and retired for the night shortly after 9:00 p.m. At 11:40 p.m., the lookouts in the birds' nest rung the bell indicating an iceberg had been spotted in Titanic's path. The engines were put in reverse and the ship turned hard left to avoid the impending collision. Under the water a protruding section of the iceberg had torn a long gash through the ship's hull. While most passengers barely noticed anything amiss, the ship's captain and crew quickly realized that Titanic was fatally wounded.

The Sinking of the Titanic

At 12:05 the order was given to begin uncovering lifeboats, and by 12:10 Titanic began sending out distress calls. In a glaring mistake, Titanic only had enough lifeboat space for about half of the people on board, making it a desperate race to board once the passengers realized that the ship was going down. At 2:05 the final lifeboat was lowered into the water, and only 15 minutes later Titanic disappeared beneath the Atlantic, taking the lives of 1,517 passengers and crew.

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