President Taft and his ill-fated aide, Archie Butt, ca 1910
Major Archibald (Archie) Butt served as a military aide to President Theodore Roosevelt. He did his job so well that President Taft, who succeeded Roosevelt, persuaded Major Butt to stay on as his aide. Major Butt worked tirelessly coordinating the President’s schedule and accompanying him on his travels. The two became close friends.
In 1912 the President convinced his exhausted aide to take a much-deserved vacation. Major Butt agreed, but soon canceled his plans. President Taft insisted that his aide take some needed rest. Major Butt acquiesced and departed for a two-month excursion to Europe. However, he cut his trip short so that he could return to America on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Survivors of that disaster recalled how the Major aided women and children to the life boats. He went down with the ship. President Taft remarked that “He died like an officer and a gentleman.”