The Wreck of the William Brown: A True Tale of Overcrowded Lifeboats and Murder
by Koch, Tom
A gripping tale of a 19th century shipwreck that should have been, but wasn’t, the catalyst for major shipping reform. In the spring of 1841, the “William Brown”, packed with immigrants headed for the New World, started across the Atlantic with the maximum of speed and the minimum of precaution. It struck an iceberg, kept going, struck another iceberg, and sank. The ship’s two lifeboats didn’t hold all aboard, and only the crew and a few passengers escaped. Plus, the sailors in one of the boats, afraid of overloading, forced some 17 passengers to walk the plank. When the boat was rescued shortly afterwards, there was an immediate controversy. Had the sailors committed murder or acted reasonable in a desperate situation?