Mr. Samuel McIlhenny Knox

Samuel Knox Saloon Passenger Saved
Samuel Knox image credit:  US National Archives/Michael Poirier.
Born Samuel McIlhenny Knox 1857 Delaware, United States
Died 8 April 1924 (age 66) United States
Age on Lusitania 57
Ticket number 14679
Cabin number B 9
Traveling with - Albert Hopkins (colleague) - Frederic Gauntlett (colleague)
Lifeboat Collapsible
Rescued by - Wanderer (Peel 12) - Flying Fish
Occupation Businessman (company president)
Citizenship United States
Residence Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Spouse(s) Florence Pusey (? - 1924, his death) (Please provide dates)
Samuel Knox (1857 - 1924), 57, was a former state senator from Delaware and leader of the opposition movement to the election of industrialist J. Edward Addicks to the U.S. Senate. In 1915, Knox was president of the New York Shipbuilding Company at 316 Upsal Street, Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He was traveling aboard Lusitania with fellow shipbuilding company presidents Fred Gauntlett and Albert Hopkins.  Knox and Gauntlett survived the torpedoing and sinking of the Lusitania on 7 May 1915 by swimming to a collapsible. Hopkins was lost.
  1. Political principles
  2. Private citizen
  3. Lusitania
  4. Recovery and later life
  5. Related pages

Political principles

Knox was a native of the state of Delaware, where he lived in the largest city in the state, Wilmington, in New Castle County. Knox served as a state senator for New Castle County from 3 January 1899 to 6 January 1903 in the 90th and 91st Delaware General Assemblies. He was a Republican. Knox was state senator during the time when industrialist J. Edward Addicks sought to buy a United States Senate seat in Delaware, under an "Addicks or nobody" campaign. During this time U.S. Senators were elected by state governments and not by the general population. Addicks' struggle with Henry A. du Pont for control of the government of Delaware led to a time where Delaware had both U.S. Senate seats vacant. At the time, one U.S. Senate seat from Delaware was already vacant. Republicans held 29 of the 52 seats in the state legislature. The 29 Republicans were split between the 18 who supported J. Edward Addicks' campaign and 11 "Regulars" who opposed Addicks. Knox was the leader of the Regulars and was determined that Addicks not be elected to the U.S. Senate by Republican votes. Pressure came from Washington in the form of Senator Mark Hanna of Ohio, who summoned the Regulars to D.C., practically ordering them to compromise on giving Addicks the U.S. Senate seat. The Regulars were offered Collectorship of the Port of Wilmington and other forms of patronage. Knox, as their leader, was even offered a U.S. Senate seat in exchange for voting for Addicks. In turns the Regulars were offered bribes and threatened. In the end, 4 Regulars defected, but not Knox and the other 6. Knox and the remaining Regulars reached a private agreement with the Democrats that Addicks would not be elected. Addicks received 22 votes in favor of his senatorship. The remaining 30 votes were against. As a result, Delaware had two vacant seats in the U.S. Senate. Senator Hanna of Ohio called the Regulars "perverse" and Samuel Knox as one of the most obstinate men he had ever met. Hanna said that the Regulars had failed in their job to send two senators to the U.S. Senate, but the Regulars stated that they were upholding their principles that a senate seat should not be bought or sold. General James H. Wilson, a cavalry officer who served in the Civil War, Spanish-American War, and in China had this to say about Knox and the Regulars' refusal of Addicks:
"Other states have surrendered to the mercenaries. Look at Clark going back to the Senate from Montana, and Quay from Pennsylvania. But Delaware has refused to be bought. In its entire history the state has done nothing nobler than in the case of Addicks."
The Addicks case was a contributing factor to the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1913, where U.S. Senators would be popularly elected instead of being elected by state governments.

Private citizen

Knox left the Delaware State Assembly in 1903. He moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and became president of the New York Shipbuilding Company at 316 Upsal Street, Germantown, Pennsylvania. Knox married Florence Pusey of Pennsylvania, and they had a daughter, Jean. Florence and Jean had stayed at home when Knox sailed on the Lusitania in May 1915.


As president of the New York Shipping Company, he was traveling aboard Lusitania with fellow shipbuilding company presidents Fred Gauntlett and Albert Hopkins.  Knox wrote an article about his Lusitania experience for The New York Times, that was published on Monday, 10 May 1915, page 3:


Samuel M. Knox of Philadelphia Tells Thrilling Story of Escape.

By SAMUEL M. KNOX, (Philadelphia.)

Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES.

QUEENSTOWN, May 9 -- Shortly after 2 o' clock on Friday, while we were finishing luncheon on board the Lusitania, in a calm sea, a heavy concussion was felt on the starboard side, throwing the vessel to port.  She immediately swung back, and proceeded to take on a list to starboard, which rapidly increased. The passengers rapidly, but in good form, left the dining room, proceeding mostly to A deck, or the boat deck.  There preparations were being made to launch the boats.  Order among the passengers was well maintained, there being nothing approaching a panic.  Many of the passengers had gone to their stations and provided themselves with lifebelts. The vessel reached an angle of about 24 degrees, and at the point there seemed to be a cessation in the listing, the vessel maintaining this position for four or five minutes, when something apparently gave way and the list started anew and increased rapidity, until in the end the greater number of the passengers were congregated on the high side of the ship.  When it became apparent that she was going to sink, I made my way to the lower, or port, side, where there appeared to be several boats only partly filled and no passengers on that deck. At this juncture I found the outside of the boat deck practically even with the water, and the ship was even further down by the head.  I stepped into a boat, and a sailor in charge then attempted to cast her off, but it was found that the boat falls had fouled the boat, and she could not be released in the limited time available. I went overboard at once and attempted to get clear of the ship, which was coming over slowly.  I was caught by one of the smokestacks and carried down a considerable distance before being released.  On coming to the surface I floated about for a considerable time, when I was picked up by a life raft.  This raft, with others, had floated free when the vessel sank, and had been picked up and taken in charge by Mr. Gauntlett of Washington and Mr. Lauriatt [sic] of Boston, who picked up thirty-two persons in all.  It was equipped with oars, and we made our way to a fishing smack about five miles distant, which took us on aboard, although it was already overloaded.  We were all finally taken off this boat by the Cunard tender Flying Fish and brought to Queenstown, arriving at 9:30 o' clock.
During the sinking, he had also seen Paul Crompton and his family, where Paul was trying to put a lifebelt on his baby son Peter. Knox also helped Alberta Crompton with her lifebelt, as she had asked Knox, "Please will you show me how to fix this?" Knox adjusted it, and the girl thanked him. The entire Crompton family was lost in the disaster.

Recovery and later life

Knox suffered great nervous shock from his Lusitania experience. He was not able to give attention to the business which took him to England, and for some time was not able to give attention to any business. On his return to the United States, his doctor advised that he retire from business. His family doctor advised Knox to retire due to his nervous condition and high blood pressure, which was in part attributable to the Lusitania disaster. Knox passed away on 8 April 1924 at age 66. He was survived by his wife Florence and daughter Jean Knox Chambers. They presented his case to the Mixed Claims Commission, which awarded Florence and Jean $15,000 for health damages that prevented Knox from doing his work and an additional $1,330 for lost property.

Related pages

Samuel Knox at the Mixed Claims Commission
Contributors: Michael Poirier Zachary Schwarz Judith Tavares References: "Brandywine." "J. Edward Addicks - A Political Meteor." Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly, June 1901. Volume LII, No. 2. The American Magazine, Volume 52. Pages 165 - 167. "Carried Down by Funnel."  New York Times, Monday, 10 May 1915, page 3. Hickey, Des and Gus Smith.  Seven Days to Disaster.  G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1981. Mixed Claims Commission. Docket No. 619, page 495.

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