Archibald Butt - Titanic First Class Passenger

Major Archibald Willingham Butt was a 45 year old first class passenger travelling home aboard Titanic from Europe. While in Europe he had personally delivered a letter to the Pope from the President of the United States. He boarded Titanic in Southampton on 10th April 1912, and during the voyage he had occupied cabin B38.

Archibald Butt, the son of Joshua and Pamela Butt, was born on 26th September 1865 in Augusta, Georgia, United States. In 1888 he graduated from the University of the South, in Sewanee, Tennessee. He then began a career as a journalist.

After Matt Ransom was appointed the United States Ambassador to Mexico in 1895, Archibald Butt accepted the position in Mexico City as First Secretary of the United States Embassy in Mexico. He served at the embassy in Mexico at least until Matt Ransom’s time as ambassador ended in 1897.

In 1898, during the Spanish–American War, he joined the United States Army. Serving in the army, he spent time in the Philippines serving as a quartermaster with the rank of Captain, and later served in Cuba.

In 1908 Theodore Roosevelt, the President of the United States, appointed Archibald Butt as his Military Aide. After Theodore Roosevelt’s time in office come to an end in March 1909, Archibald Butt was asked to stay on as the Military Aide to President William Taft. Archibald Butt would often be seen out and about with the President. In 1911 he was promoted to the rank of Major.

By early 1912 Archibald Butt’s health had not properly recovered from an illness some months before, during the previous year, and he likely needed rest. It is also often said, along the lines of, that the political rivalry between President Taft and former President Roosevelt, with an election on its way, and Roosevelt trying to stand for President again, was having an impact upon Archibald Butt, who was a friend and supporter of both, and wanted to remain neutral.

In early March 1912, on a leave of absence, he boarded North German Lloyd Lines’ Berlin and, accompanied by his friend, Francis Millet, set sail for Europe. In his possession was a letter from President Taft to personally deliver to Pope Pius X at the Vatican, which he did on 21st March. At the time newspapers reported that a response letter given to Archibald Butt by the Pope was to be personally delivered to the President by him; such a letter likely went down with the ship.

Archibald Butt began his journey back home across the Atlantic to America on 10th April 1912, from Southampton, United Kingdom. His friend, Francis Millet, joined Titanic later in the day at Cherbourg, France.

When Titanic struck the iceberg he was likely in the First class smoking room, playing cards; he was observed doing this after the ship had struck the iceberg. Archibald Butt did not survive the Titanic disaster. His body is not known to have been recovered.

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