239 Days in America, Day 28: May 08, 1912 | Washington, D.C.

Juliet Thompson’s Inside View 1

THE YOUNG JAPANESE CHERRY trees on the northern shore of the Tidal Basin bloomed in coral pink. Washington in spring is a treat to the eyes of a painter. Juliet Thompson 2 was born nearby, and although she has lived in Paris and New York she has returned — not to paint it, but to follow ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

She met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for the first time in ‘Akká in 1909, then was drawn to Thonon-les-Bains, France, when he was there in 1911, and now back to Washington. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá holds Juliet in high regard, not for her skill as a painter, (when she was 24, the New York Times called her “one of the most promising young artists of the day”), but for her sincerity. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá observed of her: “Everybody is your friend.”

…[On] May 7, 1912, Juliet started to write her account of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s first trip to Washington. Her diary will become one of the most important historical sources about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s journey across America. 3

Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C.

On Wednesday, May 8, after an early morning tea, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá packed, and caught the 9:00 A.M. train for a second visit to Washington, D.C. His companions begged Him to take a special compartment or a berth on the train; but He refused saying, “‘I spend money only to help people and to serve the Cause of God; and I have never liked distinctions since my childhood.’”

After a twelve-hour train ride they arrived in Washington; but this time ‘Abdu’l-Bahá refused Mrs. Parsons’ invitation to stay in her home. Instead He rented an apartment at 1340 Harvard Street. From there He went to the Parsons’ home where there was an assemblage of people waiting for Him. 4

Talk at Hotel Schenley, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 7 May 1912

Wherever His oppressors sent Him, He hoisted the standard of the oneness of the world of humanity and promulgated the principles of the unity of mankind. Some of these principles are as follows. First, it is incumbent upon all mankind to investigate truth. If such investigation be made, all should agree and be united, for truth or reality is not multiple; it is not divisible. The different religions have one truth underlying them; therefore, their reality is one. 5

The second principle or teaching of Bahá’u’lláh is the proclamation of the oneness of the world of humanity—that all are servants of God and belong to one family; that God has created all and, therefore, His bestowals are universal; and that His providence, training, sustenance and loving-kindness surround all mankind.

This is the divine policy, and it is impossible for man to lay the foundation of a better plan and policy than that which God has instituted. Therefore, we must recognize and assist the purpose of the glorious Lord. Inasmuch as God is kind and loving to all, why should we be unkind? As this human world is one household, why should its members be occupied with animosity and contention? Therefore, humanity must be looked upon with the eye of equal estimate and in the same attitude of love. The noblest of men is he who serves humankind, and he is nearest the threshold of God who is the least of His servants. The glory and majesty of man are dependent upon his servitude to his fellow creatures and not upon the exercise of hostility and hatred.

The third principle or teaching of Bahá’u’lláh is the oneness of religion and science. Any religious belief which is not conformable with scientific proof and investigation is superstition, for true science is reason and reality, and religion is essentially reality and pure reason; therefore, the two must correspond. Religious teaching which is at variance with science and reason is human invention and imagination unworthy of acceptance, for the antithesis and opposite of knowledge is superstition born of the ignorance of man. If we say religion is opposed to science, we lack knowledge of either true science or true religion, for both are founded upon the premises and conclusions of reason, and both must bear its test. 6

Wednesday, May 8, 1912 7

Early in the morning, as the Master was having tea, preparations were underway to continue our journey. We received copies of some of the newspapers carrying accounts of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit and His explanations of the most intricate problems of life and the influence that the Cause had had in that city. Every day the call of the Cause of God was awakening the inhabitants of Cleveland and Pittsburgh who had been asleep on the bed of negligence and this was increasingly reported.

The time for the Peace Congress, which the Master had promised to attend, was fast approaching. He moved like lightning from place to place and at each He tore asunder the veils of vain imaginings. In a very short time He accomplished many great tasks. Because the meetings in these cities had been scheduled in advance, several were held in one day and thousands of people were attracted and transformed by Him.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá left Pittsburgh at 9:00 a.m. and at 9:00 p.m. the friends in Washington DC, who were anxiously awaiting His arrival at the railway station, were overjoyed to see Him. At every stop He had been shown such great respect that it was like the bowing and bending of the cypress trees, demonstrating the power of the spiritual springtime and the tranquillity and flourishing of the garden of humanity. After lunch on the train, some of the friends pleaded with Him to secure a cabin that He might sleep and get some rest. He replied: ‘I make certain expenditures only to help people and to serve the Cause of God; and since my childhood I have never liked distinctions.’ He spoke for some time on this subject and warned us against making such personal distinctions.

When the Master arrived in Washington DC He was driven to a house especially rented for Him at [1340] Harvard Street, which was near Mrs Parsons’s home. Joining us today were Dr Zia Bagdadi of Chicago, the son of Muhammad Mustafa Bagdadi, and Mírzá Ahmad Sohrab of Washington DC, both of whom were given the tasks of translating and writing.

The Master spoke today about the meaning of the prophecies and signs of the Day of the Manifestation of God:

“Through their ignorance of these meanings people have always remained veiled from the manifestations of the bounties of Him Who is the Causer of Causes. Although in the divine scriptures mention is made of a heaven and an earth other than the physical heaven and earth, yet they have interpreted these signs literally and have deprived themselves of spiritual worlds and divine knowledge.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá then went to Mrs Parsons’s home where He spoke about the teachings on economics to the friends, who were extremely pleased with His explanation.

  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Juliet Thompson’s Inside View.” 239 Days in America, May 8, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/08/juliet-thompsons-washington/.
  2. Ahdieh, Hussein. “Juliet Thompson: Champion of the Baha’i Faith in New York City.” Bahá’í Blog, 26 May 2021, https://www.bahaiblog.net/2021/05/juliet-thompson-champion-of-the-bahai-faith-in-new-york-city/.
  3. Thompson, Juliet. The Diary of Juliet Thompson. Edited by Marzieh Gail. 1st ed. 1947. Reprint, Los Angeles: Kalimát Press, 1983. https://bahai-library.com/thompsondiary.
  4. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 64.
  5. 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, 105-106. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/7#173120438
  6. 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, 106-107. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/7#489305200
  7. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. 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=3#section45.

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