239 Days in America, Day 34: May 14, 1912 | Lake Mohonk

‘Abdu’l-Bahá Scales “The Gunks” 1

THE TRAIN PUFFED BLACK smoke through the towns north of New York City. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was on his way to the Eighteenth Annual Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration in New Paltz, New York. A four-hour train ride would take him up the Hudson River into the countryside. Soon the view outside his window was wrapped in greenery. The peace conference was designed to be far from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and his party arrived at the station in New Paltz a landau waited to drive them the last seven miles to Lake Mohonk. For an hour they rode in the open air through the rising rocks and wooded hills of the Shawangunk Mountains—the locals call them The Gunks. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, exhilarated by the fresh wilderness around him, suddenly began to sing and told the others to join in. Dr. Fareed, his translator, couldn’t remember this ever having happened before. At last the red rooftops of the Lake Mohonk Mountain House appeared through the trees.

‘‘Abdu’l-Bahá would stay in the magnificent Victorian castle for the next three days. Albert Smiley, its owner, had hosted the peace conference each year since 1895. It takes place in a grand parlor overlooking the lake, a room Mr. Smiley built especially for this purpose.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 2

He traveled the next day, Tuesday, May 14th, to Lake Mohonk, the site of the International Peace Society’s conference, to be the featured speaker of the evening. After the presentation the audience streamed to the platform to meet Him.

Talk at Unity Church, Montclair, New Jersey, 12 May 1912

O Thou kind Lord! O Thou Who art generous and merciful! We are the servants of Thy threshold and are gathered beneath the sheltering shadow of Thy divine unity. The sun of Thy mercy is shining upon all, and the clouds of Thy bounty shower upon all. Thy gifts encompass all, Thy loving providence sustains all, Thy protection overshadows all, and the glances of Thy favor are cast upon all. O Lord! Grant Thine infinite bestowals, and let the light of Thy guidance shine. Illumine the eyes, gladden the hearts with abiding joy. Confer a new spirit upon all people and bestow upon them eternal life. Unlock the gates of true understanding and let the light of faith shine resplendent. Gather all people beneath the shadow of Thy bounty and cause them to unite in harmony, so that they may become as the rays of one sun, as the waves of one ocean, and as the fruit of one tree. May they drink from the same fountain. May they be refreshed by the same breeze. May they receive illumination from the same source of light. Thou art the Giver, the Merciful, the Omnipotent. 3

Tuesday, May 14, 1912 4

As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was invited to Lake Mohonk, the venue for the conference of the International Peace Society, He made preparations to leave. This conference was the greatest of all the peace conferences in America. It was held in a most ideal location and many dignitaries and delegates from various countries had been invited to attend. Lake Mohonk is four hours away from New York by train. At the train station special landaus were waiting to take the guests to the conference site. The Master took one of these and went to the Hotel Lake Mohonk. He praised the beauty of the place and the scenic grandeur of the route as His carriage drove for about an hour amidst green valleys, wooded hills, woodlands, waterfalls and natural springs. The conference was to last for three days. Each day two long sessions were held in the spacious hall of the hotel facing the lake, the hall having been especially built for the conference.

On the first evening, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s name was at the head of the program. All the members and delegates were anxious to hear His address. The president [of the International Peace Society, Mr Smiley] introduced the Master with the utmost respect and glowing words of praise. Then ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stood and spoke. A new spirit and a new excitement seemed to prevail over the gathering. During the day most of the delegates had been engaged in materialistic issues. Their thoughts had been concentrated on effecting the union of the interior of the United States of America. In the evening, however, they found themselves puzzled when they heard the eloquent, elegant address from the Master concerning the unity of all people, the reformation of the whole world and the Manifestation of the Greatest Name which would bring about the oneness of the world of humanity and the promulgation of the teachings of universal peace. He spoke for about 20 minutes, the time allotted to Him in the program. According to the custom of the West, the audience applauded for a long time when He ceased speaking. They requested that He continue but because He was tired He apologized and with a gesture of His hand bestowed kindness on all. One by one, dignitaries and delegates from many countries came to shake His hand. Some of them embraced Him and expressed their thanks. The president again stood, offered thanks and spoke with great reverence on the importance of the teachings, praising and commending ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on behalf of the audience. Mr Smiley’s wife then gave the Master a pendant especially made for the peace conference and thanked Him most joyfully.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny

Mahmud: May 14 — Lake Mohonk Peace Conference


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Scales ‘The Gunks.’” 239 Days in America, May 14, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/14/abdul-baha-scales-the-gunks/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 67.
  3. 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, 116. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/8#111687899
  4. ’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#section51.

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