Margaret “Maggie” Tobin Brown

The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Margaret “Maggie” Tobin was born (July 18, 1867) in Hannibal, Missouri. After moving to Leadville, Colorado, she met prospector James Brown and married him in 1886. Seven years later, he struck gold and began building his five million dollar fortune.


By 1903, Margaret began tackling the tough social issues of her time: juvenile justice; children’s, women’s and miner’s rights; and social equality. When Judge Ben Lindsey met Margaret in 1903, he saw a partner that shared his vision of a juvenile court system and had the ability to raise funds and make connections. Together they created a juvenile justice system that reformed the way the state and the nation treat juvenile crimes. Margaret also became very involved in politics, as Colorado was one of the first states to give women the right to vote in the 1880’s. She became a suffragette and attended national rallies on women’s rights. Margaret first ran for the US Senate in 1909 and then again in 1911, both before women had the right to vote nationally.

Bad-ass Maggie was used to traveling to remote places and wasn’t afraid of sh!t. In April of 1912, she booked passage on the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic. After the ship struck the iceberg, Maggie helped women and children into lifeboats and eventually was shoved into lifeboat six. She fell four feet into the lifeboat, arguing all the way that she wanted to stay and help others. She was an excellent swimmer and figured, at worst, she could swim to a lifeboat. Lifeboat 6 was supposed to hold 65 passengers, but it was pushed off with only 21 women and 2 men aboard. Maggie realized that it could get caught up in the suction effect caused by the sinking ship. The two dudes on the boat were a bunch of pussies, especially Quartermaster Robert Hichens.  Maggie told the women on the lifeboat to row together and not let fear take over, which is what they did. Maggie argued fiercely with Quartermaster Hichens, who refused to return to the wreck site for fear survivors in the water would swamp the boat.  When Hichens dismissed a flare fired by an approaching ship as a “shooting star,” Maggie threatened to throw him overboard. To fight the bitter cold, she shared her stable coat.

After being rescued by the ship Carpathia, she began to take action consoling survivors who spoke little English (Maggie knew five languages) and rifling through the ship to find extra blankets and supplies to distribute to the survivors. She also compiled lists of survivors and arranged for information to be radioed to their families at her expense. Margaret rallied the first class passengers to donate money to help less fortunate passengers and, before the Carpathia reached New York, $10,000 had been raised. While roughly 20% of all the passengers who escaped the sinking Titanic would later die from exposure to the cold, everyone on Margaret Brown’s boat survived …even douche-bag Hichens.


Maggie giving Captain Arthur Henry Rostron an award for his service in the rescue of Titanic's surviving passengers.

When interviewed by reporters upon their return and asked what she attributed her survival to, she replied “Typical Brown luck. We’re unsinkable.” The Titanic disaster made Margaret a national hero. She didn’t take crap from anyone. Once, it was pointed out to her that it was improper to wear diamonds in the daytime. She replied, “I didn’t think so either, until I had some.”

She was damned pissed off that as a woman she couldn’t testify at the Titanic hearings. Because of this, Maggie wrote her own version of the event that was published in the newspapers of New York, Denver, and Paris. She founded and was head of the Titanic Survivors’ Committee which supported immigrants who had lost everything in the disaster, and helped to get a memorial erected to the Titanic survivors in Washington, DC.

In 1914, her bid for US Senate was undertaken by the Congressional Union and endorsed by the President of the National Women’s Suffrage Association of New York but she postponed her bid because of WWI. She was awarded the prestigious Palm of the Academy of France in May 1929 and the French Legion of Honor in April 1932 primarily for her work during World War I. She never did go by the name Molly, that was added decades after her death when her life was dramatized by the Broadway stage play and movie called “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

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