239 Days in America, Day 17: April 27, 1912 | Washington, DC

At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue 1

President Taft had invited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to visit him at the White House at 12:30 [on Sunday, April 28th]. On Friday morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had spoken at the President’s church, All Souls Unitarian on Harvard Street. Then, on Saturday, members of the Taft family had attended an evening reception that Mrs. Parsons had held for 300 dignitaries in the capital.

William Sulzer, the Democratic Congressman from New York, had also come to the Parsons’ for a private interview with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He was Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and said later that he felt he had just talked with the prophet Elijah, and Moses. Shortly afterward, another invitation arrived: this one came from Champ Clark (D-Missouri), the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to address Congress the following week on his vision of world peace.

Washington D. C. 2

At the Parsons’ reception in the afternoon He [‘Abdul-Bahá] said to a Justice of the Supreme Court, “‘It is possible to establish such unity among the powers of the whole world as is found in the United States of America.’”

To some of the doctors He said, “‘I hope that you will raise the standard of the universal peace.’”

To a mathematician He said, “‘I hope that you will try to teach the truth and principles of divine relations to different nations as you are teaching mathematics to different persons in your school.’”

To Admiral Peary He said, “‘I hope that you will explore the invisibilities of the Kingdom.’”

To the Archbishop He said, “‘I hope you will throw away the injurious formalism, enforce the truth of the teaching of Christ, and remove all those dogmas that are against science and reality.’”

To a member of Congress He said, “‘As you are endeavoring for the good of America, so you must put forth your energy for the good of the whole world and all the nations.’”

“Remembering those who looked into His eyes” 3

Talk to Theosophical Society, Home of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur J. Parsons , 1700 Eighteenth Street, NW, Washington, D.C., 25 April 1912

Man has two powers; and his development, two aspects. One power is connected with the material world, and by it he is capable of material advancement. The other power is spiritual, and through its development his inner, potential nature is awakened. These powers are like two wings. Both must be developed, for flight is impossible with one wing. Praise be to God! Material advancement has been evident in the world, but there is need of spiritual advancement in like proportion. We must strive unceasingly and without rest to accomplish the development of the spiritual nature in man, and endeavor with tireless energy to advance humanity toward the nobility of its true and intended station. For the body of man is accidental; it is of no importance. The time of its disintegration will inevitably come. But the spirit of man is essential and, therefore, eternal. It is a divine bounty. It is the effulgence of the Sun of Reality and, therefore, of greater importance than the physical body. 4

Saturday, April 27, 1912

Mrs Parsons offered the Master a sum of money but He said that she should distribute it among the poor. No matter how much she supplicated, He would not accept it, saying, ‘If we had not had the money necessary for the expenses of the voyage, we would have accepted your offer.’

The Treasurer of the United States had lunch with the Master. This gentleman was very happy and smiling as he bade farewell to the Master. Later, the Master went to the home of an official to say goodbye. The man embraced Him, weeping with joy. When I saw the smile of the Treasurer and the tears of the official, I recited this poem: ‘The smiles and tears of the lovers are from another world.’

The Bahá’í meetings and the outstanding qualities of the Master have received such acclaim that today, out of jealousy, some narrow-minded Christian clergymen spoke out against the Cause.

Since this was the last night of the Master’s stay in the this city, Mrs Parsons held an elegant reception for dignitaries and city officials in honor of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and on behalf of the Orient-Occident Unity Society. Three hundred people in formal attire assembled in the spacious rooms, which were beautifully decorated with flowers and ornaments. When the Master came downstairs, each guest, man and woman alike, approached Him with the utmost reverence to shake His hand. They introduced one another and paid Him their respects. The guests then went into the dining room to partake of the repast prepared for them, including beverages, cakes, ice cream and coffee.

After they had eaten the guests were ushered into the music hall while the Master sat in another room to receive those who wished to see Him. He answered all their questions. To a Washington judge He said: ‘It is possible to establish among the powers of the whole world the unity which is found among the states of the United States of America.’ To some doctors He stated, ‘I hope that you will raise the standard of universal peace.’ To a mathematician He said, ‘I hope that you will try to teach the truth and principles of divine religions to different nations just as you are teaching mathematics to different persons in your school.’ To Admiral Peary, the explorer of the North Pole, He said, ‘I hope you will discover the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.’ The Master spoke to a bishop, saying, ‘My hope is that you will abandon harmful imitations, spread the truth of the teachings of Christ and remove all those dogmas that are against science and reality.’ To the chargé d’affaires of Switzerland, the Master described His sojourn in that country. To some relatives of the President of the United States [William Howard Taft] He spoke about divine civilization. To a member of Congress, He said, ‘Just as you are exerting yourself for the good of America, so must you expend your energy for the benefit of all the nations of the world.’ He also spoke to the head of the United States Patent Office and the General Consul, the President of the Peace Congress and other well-known personages.

When this magnificent meeting ended, the guests came to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá one by one to shake His hand and to say goodbye. The night was one of the most blessed nights and that meeting one of the most great and important meetings. 5

  1. Menon, Jonathan. “At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” 239 Days in America, April 27, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/27/at-1600-pennsylvania-avenue/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 45-46.
  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, 31.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. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/3#470126563.
  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#section34

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