Almost immediately after the waves closed over the stern of the R.M.S. Titanic on April 15, 1912, authors began pumping out articles, books and essays about the history and greater meaning of the world's worst shipwreck. Very few authors over the ensuing 101 years wrote much about Titanic in the bigger picture of Edwardian technology, foreign relations, or business. This thesis argues that the massive ships that crowded the North Atlantic created wealth and prestige not only for the companies that owned them and the nations whose flag flew from the mast. Between 1871 and 1911, the ships of the North Atlantic transformed a means of transportation into commercial status symbols and tools of national interest. Driven by consumer, popular and government interests, rivalry stoked intense pressure to innovate. This thesis explores how business changed to meet the challenge to innovate; the means business used to raise capital, and, finally, how the trans-Atlantic trade changed from privately owned firms into government-business partnerships that fulfilled nationalistic visions This thesis documents the evolution of ideas about the relationship between the private pursuit of wealth and the government pursuit of global status using such primary resources as excerpts from diaries, newspaper articles, and essays from leading businesses men of the era. Secondary sources include books from both the U. K. and the U. S. The research shows a rapid transition from privately held, family shipping businesses to multinational conglomerates. It further documents how business interests in Great Britain and the United States eventually joined to produce the great liners that also fulfilled the goals of foreign policy in both nations.