Gentlemanly Action in Crisis: 7 Titanic Heroes

gentlemanly action in crisis

At times, the gentleman is ridiculed. Some might call his ways outdated, others might call his actions rigid, still others might call his ways weak and feminine.


In times of crisis, the gentleman is legendary. He is a hero.

The sinking Titanic gave way to accounts of men who gave their lives so that others may live; men who calmly displayed gentlemanly action in crisis. You’ve probably heard of the eight musicians who continued to play as the ship went down. The Titanic heroes share common gentlemanly characteristics that are applicable today in crisis situations and difficult circumstances.

6 Characteristics of Gentlemanly Action in Crisis based on men from the Titanic

1. Understood their strength: these men could have forced or bought their way onto lifeboats, but they helped others first.
2. Remained calm: even as the rescue rockets were being shot in the air, these men didn’t panic and reassured the frightened.
3. Duty first: they were selfless and served the needs of others before themselves.
4. Protected others: they made sure children and women were taken care of first.
5. Courageous: they willingly faced death…and in style.
6. Demonstrated love: there’s no greater love than a gentleman laying down his life so others may live.

There were many men who displayed gentlemanly conduct aboard the Titanic. These 7 gentleman have documented heroic acts for all the aspiring gentleman today.

Benjamin Guggenheim slept through the Titanic’s collision with the iceberg and was later awakened to go up on deck. After helping women and children board the lifeboats, he found out they were unlikely to be rescued. He and his valet Victor Giglio went back to their rooms and put on formal evening wear. Benjamin famously said, “We’ve dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentleman.”

Daniel Marvin and Mary had just married and were returning from their honeymoon. After helping his wife board the lifeboat, Daniel, who was only 19 years old said, “It’s alright, little girl. You go. I will stay.” He blew her a parting kiss.

Dr. W.T. Minahan helped his wife onto a lifeboat and told her, “Be brave. No matter what happens, be brave!” He then stepped back with the other men.

Isidor Straus founded Macy’s department stores. After helping his wife Ida board a lifeboat, an officer made room for him, but he said, “I will not go before the other men.” Ida refused to leave him and they perished together when the ship went down.

Washington Augustus Roebling was coming back from Europe after test-driving the new Fiat. Like many other men, he was noted for being “calm and gallant in helping load women and children into the boats” and “took it upon himself to assist women with their life preservers.”

Walter Donald Douglas and his wife had just retired and were coming back from Europe on the Titanic bringing back furnishings for their new home. When distress rockets were sent up in the air, a rescue boat was provided for them, but Walter told his wife, “No, I must be a gentleman.”

When Captain Smith realized there was no hope for the Titanic, he told his men, “‘Well boys, you’ve done your duty and done it well. I ask no more of you.”

The foundation of being a gentleman is putting others before oneself. Smith’s leadership influenced the men to serve the women, children, and passengers first and foremost. As a respectful captain, he went down with the ship.

These 7 gentlemen have been noted for their heroic acts aboard the Titanic, but many of the heroic deeds will never be known.

The ways of a gentleman are very much like an iceberg (pictured below). Just like a majority of an iceberg is unseen, a bulk of gentlemanly actions will never be noted or recognized. Gentlemen are the everyday and unsung heroes who don’t expect reward or publicity. Quietly, these men dramatically change the world around them.


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