This High Society Couple Had It All Until They Decided To Honeymoon On The Titanic

To those on the outside looking in, John Jacob Astor and his young bride Madeleine had everything — looks, fabulous wealth, and a new baby on the way. But behind the scenes, things weren’t quite so perfect. And when they booked a trip on board the RMS Titanic, the couple sealed the fate of their doomed marriage.

No happy ending

In the events that followed, hundreds of people lost their lives — and the face of American high society changed for good. But for Mr. and Mrs. Astor, the sinking of the Titanic was just the final obstacle in a relationship that was beset by challenges from the start. And sadly, there would be no happy ending for the golden couple.

Madeleine Force

Born in 1893 in Brooklyn, New York, Madeleine was the daughter of William Hurlbut Force, a prominent merchant with a seat in the city’s Chamber of Commerce. Her great-grandfather, meanwhile, was Thomas Talmage, who had once been mayor of their borough. In other words, they were a family not lacking in money or influence by the standards of the time.

The Four Hundred

But Madeleine and her parents could only dream of reaching the upper echelons of New York society — the spot occupied by those known as the Four Hundred. Comprising the city’s richest and most distinguished families, this elite group was presided over with an iron fist by John Jacob Astor’s mother Caroline.

Caroline Astor

Descended from the original Dutch settlers of New York, Caroline was part of the city’s long-standing aristocracy. And when the economic boom of the Gilded Age brought new money — fortunes that had been earned, rather than inherited — to the streets of Manhattan, she appointed herself the arbitrator of high society.