The White Star Line was founded in 1850 primarily to service the Australian gold trade. It was bought by Sir Edward Harland and Thomas Henry Ismay in 1867. In 1891, the Teutonic was the first White Star Line to hold the record for fastest Transatlantic crossing earning White Star the "Blue Ribband". Upon Thomas Ismay's death in 1899, John Bruce Ismay took over his father's position in the White Star Line. In 1902, Ismay sold the White Star Line to International Mercantile Marine (IMM) a company created by J. Pierpont Morgan. Ismay remained as White Star's chairman and subsequently became IMM's president. IMM consisted of the The White Star Line, The Red Star Line, The Dominion Line, The Atlantic Transport Line and The Leyland Line.
In reaction to the Cunard Line's large, fast passenger ships, the Lusitania and Mauritania, and the competition from German passenger lines, the White Star Line decided to build the largest, most luxurious ships in the world, the Olympic class ships. The first ship was the Olympic, the second the Titanic. Competition for passengers on the trans-atlantic routes was fierce and the competition for the Blue Ribband was closely watched.
The Titantic left from Southampton, England at noon on April 10th
and proceeded to Cherbourg, France to pick up additional passengers. On
April 11th, the Titantic stopped at Queenstown, Ireland for additional
passengers. The Titanic departed Queenstown at 1:30 p.m. for
New York with Joseph Bruce Ismay aboard and the three witnesses.
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