July 13, 1864 – April 15, 1912
Madeleine Force Astor
June 19, 1893 – March 27, 1940
John Jacob Astor VI
August 14, 1912 – June 26, 1992
The Astors were returning from an extended honeymoon in Europe when the Titanic hit an iceberg. At first Colonel Astor, one of the richest Americans, resisted boarding the lifeboats, saying “We are safer here than in that little boat.” Soon he ensured his pregnant wife got on one of the boats, where he was refused permission to board. According to Archibald Gracie in his Senate hearing testimony:
I heard Mr. Astor ask the second officer whether he would not be allowed to go aboard this boat to protect his wife. He said, "No, sir; no man is allowed on this boat or any of the boats until the ladies are off."
Astor kissed his wife goodbye and stood on the ship deck as it began to sink. Washed overboard, Astor drowned April 15, 1912. Madeleine named their son John Jacob in tribute.
Why might he think it safer to stay on board?