Denver, Colo., Apr 5, 2017 / 02:02 am America/Denver (CNA).
On the fateful voyage that embarked from Southampton and never made it to New York City, a passenger on the RMS Titanic named Major Archibald Willingham Butt was tasked with a special mission.
He was to carry a letter from Pope Pius X and personally deliver it to United States president William H. Taft.
But the 45-year-old major perished along with more than 1500 other passengers the night of April 15, with the contents of the letter never to be known.
Born in 1865 in Augusta, Georgia, Major Butt began a career in journalism after graduating from the University of the South, in Sewanee, Tennessee. He later worked as first secretary of the United States Embassy in Mexico. During the Spanish-American war, he joined the army and was later appointed in 1908 by Theodore Roosevelt as his military aid. When President Taft was elected, Major Butt was kept on staff and promoted to the rank of major in 1911.
By the next year, his health began to deteriorate – some speculating that this was due to him wanting to stay neutral and supportive amid tense political rivalry between Taft and Roosevelt, the latter of whom was planning a re-election campaign.