239 Days in America, Day 16: April 26, 1912 | Washington, DC

A Trip Through New York City, 1911 1

The following eight-minute film [1911 – A Trip Through New York City from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)]… The speed of the film has been corrected to smooth over the jerky motion commonplace in old silent movies, and a tapestry of sound has been added to produce a faithful representation of life in New York in the early century.

Washington D. C. 2

Among the visitors on Friday morning, April 26, was Lee McClung, the Secretary of the Treasury if the United States. Later ‘Abdul-Bahá addressed the ladies of President Taft’s All Saints [Souls] Unitarian Church, the room was completely filled. After the daily Parsons’ reception, He took a walk in the park. That evening He spoke to another capacity crowd, in one of the largest halls in Washington—the Continental Hall of the Daughters of the American Revolution—sharing the platform with Samuel Gompers, the president of the American Federation of Labor, Benjamin Trueblood, secretary of the American Peace Society, and A. C. Monohan [Arthur Coleman Monahan] of the United States Bureau of Education.

Abdul-Bahá, Who kept the friends in the Holy Land and Persia apprised of the activities through frequent cablegrams, cabled, “‘This day three thousand persons were interviewed in the utmost harmony.’”

“Remembering those who looked into His eyes” 3

Message to the Esperantists, Home of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur J. Parsons , 1700 Eighteenth Street, NW, Washington, D.C., 25 April 1912

Today the greatest need of the world of humanity is discontinuance of the existing misunderstandings among nations. This can be accomplished through the unity of language. Unless the unity of languages is realized, the Most Great Peace and the oneness of the human world cannot be effectively organized and established because the function of language is to portray the mysteries and secrets of human hearts. The heart is like a box, and language is the key. Only by using the key can we open the box and observe the gems it contains. Therefore, the question of an auxiliary international tongue has the utmost importance. Through this means international education and training become possible; the evidence and history of the past can be acquired. The spread of the known facts of the human world depends upon language. The explanation of divine teachings can only be through this medium. As long as diversity of tongues and lack of comprehension of other languages continue, these glorious aims cannot be realized. Therefore, the very first service to the world of man is to establish this auxiliary international means of communication. It will become the cause of the tranquillity of the human commonwealth. Through it sciences and arts will be spread among the nations, and it will prove to be the means of the progress and development of all races. We must endeavor with all our powers to establish this international auxiliary language throughout the world. It is my hope that it may be perfected through the bounties of God and that intelligent men may be selected from the various countries of the world to organize an international congress whose chief aim will be the promotion of this universal medium of speech. 4

Friday, April 26, 1912

In addition to the usual receptions at the home of Mrs Parsons, there were three public meetings: one in the morning, another in the afternoon and one in the evening. At the first gathering, at the All Saints Unitarian Church, the Master spoke on the subject of the varieties of light, the effulgence of the Sun of Reality in its original essence, and of the waiting souls with pure hearts who are like unto clear spotless mirrors, whose eyes and ears become enlightened by the appearance of the Sun of Reality. So great was the respect and devotion of the audience that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote in a cable He sent to the Orient: ‘Today three thousand persons visited with the utmost harmony.’

At every gathering, whether for Bahá’ís or non-Bahá’ís, several stenographers, as well as the Persian secretaries, were in attendance. The English translations were published soon after the address itself but the Persian originals taken down by us verbatim had to be submitted to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for correction. Because of His heavy schedule, He had little time for this, so the originals were often delayed in their publication.

The afternoon meeting was held at the home of Mrs Parsons. The subject of the talk was the interpretation of the Old Testament statement concerning the creation of man in the image of God. At the conclusion ‘Abdu’l-Bahá took His leave of the friends, promising to return to Washington DC from Chicago. On hearing this, the friends hastened to shake hands with Him and showed great reverence and humility to Him, joyful that soon He would return to their midst. After the meeting, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went for a stroll in a park to recuperate.

In the evening ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to a third gathering, held in a very large building, to speak to a group of young women of the suffrage movement. This was the largest meeting held thus far and the most spacious and majestic hall. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá delivered a most impressive address which He began by saying:

“One of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is equality of rights for men and women. When He promulgated this principle in the Orient, the people were astonished.

One of the proofs of the advancement of women is this magnificent and imposing building and this large gathering.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk centered on the subject of equality of men and women and the necessity of giving women the same training as men. Many praised Him, both before and after His talk. The meeting closed with a song of praise.

The chairman of the meeting, Mr Hoover from New York, introduced the Master most eloquently. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá came to the pulpit, He was received with a standing ovation and a burst of enthusiasm. Then, with a motion of His hand, all seated themselves.

As the Master arose to give His talk, everyone began to clap so loudly that the sound echoed around the great hall. Everyone was thrilled as the beloved Master stood and the hearts of the believers were relieved of all grief and anxiety. Indeed, the appearance of the Center of God’s Covenant in these meetings is worthy of the highest praise and will undoubtedly be of the greatest benefit to all. Instead of the harsh treatment meted out to the Manifestations of God, here was the advancement and elevation of the Cause of God. To listen to the melodious, resonant voice of the Center of the Covenant in such auditoriums fills one with excitement and raises the banner of everlasting honor. The presence of the Eastern friends was sorely missed.

At the end of the meeting, people again filled the room to capacity so they could glimpse ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s beautiful face and shake His hand. 5

  1. Menon, Jonathan. “A Trip Through New York City, 1911.” 239 Days in America, April 26, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/26/a-great-harvest-of-results/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 45.
  3. Van Ness, Zabine. “Remembering Those Who Looked into His Eyes: Abdul Baha’s Visits with Some Influential Dignitaries, April 11th to December 5th, 1912.” PDF, Seattle, WA, 2012, 26.https://hearttoheart.co/PDFs/Abdul-Bahaandhisvariousvisitations.pdf.
  4. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 60-61. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/3#293573670.
  5. Mahmud-i-Zarqani, Mirza. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=2#section33

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