November 4, 1912: The Week Ahead 1
TODAY AT 9:15 A.M. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá departed Chicago on the Pennsylvania Railroad. The train skirted the southern rim of Lake Michigan, then took off cross-country, heading southeast across the patchwork fields of Indiana, steaming through Logansport, Kokomo, Anderson, and Richmond. At 5:15 P.M. it will reach the Ohio River, delivering ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to Cincinnati for an overnight stay.
In the week ahead, the presidential election season of 1912 comes to a conclusion as Americans go to the polls to vote. As the results scurry across America along the telegraph wires, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá pays a final visit to the nation’s capital.
The Journey East: Chicago, Cincinnati, Washington, D.C., Baltimore 2
Before leaving Chicago that day [November 4], ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sent a telegram to Cincinnati informing the friends, who had been supplicating His presence, that He would stay there for one night and that the stay would be “private.” The friends met Him at the Cincinnati station and took Him to the Grand Hotel where a public meeting with five hundred persons attending had been arranged, followed by a banquet.
Monday, November 4, 1912 3
The Master left for Cincinnati in the morning. At the request of the friends there who longed for a glimpse of His face, the Master sent a telegram informing them that He would stay with them one night in order to visit the believers. At the Chicago train station the friends of God, both men and women, wept as they saw their Master depart. It was a grand occasion and a testimony to the greatness of the Cause of God and the influence of His Covenant. Well-respected people of the West have been attracted to the Beloved of the East. They hovered like moths around the divine lamp and wept at their friend’s departure. Among those who accompanied ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to the next station was Mrs True with whom the Master spoke about the Tarbíyat Schools in Tihrán.
In the evening Cincinnati was blessed by the arrival of the Master. With eagerness and excitement, the believers anxiously awaited a glimpse of His face. Mrs Farmer and other believers had arranged a public meeting at the Grand Hotel after which a beautiful banquet was given. Arriving at the hotel, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá first went to the hall where some five hundred had assembled to hear Him. He spoke about the sovereignty and endless bounties of God and concluded with explanations of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh from the holy writings. His words captivated the hearts of His listeners.
The Master then went into the dining room of the hotel where He was delighted to see the beaming faces of the friends, the brightness of the electric lights, the table decorated with colorful flowers and the hearts immersed in the love of God. More than 50 people were seated around the table. The Master sat at the head of the table while the Persian friends sat nearby. In great happiness ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke these heavenly words:
“It is an excellent table for we have assembled here through the love of Bahá’u’lláh. Tonight I am exceedingly happy to be with you. You must be very happy and in a prayerful attitude for no better meeting could be held. The holding of meetings at which people from the East come to the far West and sit together with you with such love and affection was impossible but through His penetrative power Bahá’u’lláh has made this easy and has joined the East and the West. Would that the friends of Persia were here now and could see this!”
When the conversation turned to Los Angeles, the Master spoke about Mr Chase and the nobility of his spirit. He chanted a prayer in life-giving strains:
“O Thou kind Lord, we render thanks unto Thee that Thou has brought us from the farthest lands of the East to the most distant lands of the West and gathered us at this table arrayed with the finest, most diverse, sweetest and most delicious material foods. We thank Thee especially for the presence of those who have turned toward the Kingdom of Thy favor and have fixed their eyes upon the horizon of Thy kindness.
“O Lord! These souls have turned toward Thee, they desire Thy pleasure and are grateful for Thy blessings. They walk in the ways of Thy will.
“O Lord! Grant them heavenly food; enable them to partake of the Lord’s supper. Exalt this noble lady in Thy Kingdom, bestow everlasting life upon her and grant her Thine eternal favor. As Thou hast given us these earthly blessings so, too, give us heavenly food. Bestow upon us Thine everlasting grace. Strengthen us to arise in praise and gratitude to Thee that we may be aided and assisted to do that which beseems Thy glorification.”
Thou art the Mighty, the Generous, the Compassionate.
About 40 of the friends stayed at the hotel rather than return to their homes that night.
Talk at Grand Hotel, Cincinnati, Ohio 4
In the Orient I was informed that there are many lovers of peace in America. Therefore, I left my native land to associate here with those who are the standard-bearers of international conciliation and agreement. Having traveled from coast to coast, I find the United States of America vast and progressive, the government just and equitable, the nation noble and independent. I attended many meetings where international peace was discussed and am always extremely happy to witness the results of such meetings, for one of the great principles of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings is the establishment of agreement among the peoples of the world. He founded and taught this principle in the Orient fifty years ago. He proclaimed international unity, summoned the religions of the world to harmony and reconciliation and established fellowship among many races, sects and communities. At that time He wrote Epistles to the kings and rulers of the world, calling upon them to arise and cooperate with Him in spreading these principles, saying that the stability and advancement of humanity could only be realized through the unity of the nations. Through His efforts this principle of universal harmony and agreement was practically demonstrated in Persia and other countries. Today in Persia, for instance, there are many people of various races and religions who have followed the exhortations of Bahá’u’lláh and are living together in love and fellowship without religious, patriotic or racial prejudices—Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Zoroastrians and many others.
America has arisen to spread the teachings of peace, to increase the illumination of humankind and bestow happiness and prosperity upon the children of men. These are the principles and evidences of divine civilization. America is a noble nation, the standard-bearer of peace throughout the world, shedding light to all regions. Foreign nations are not untrammeled and free from intrigues and complications like the United States; therefore, they are not able to bring about universal harmony. But America—praise be to God!—is at peace with all the world and is worthy of raising the flag of brotherhood and international agreement. When this is done, the rest of the world will accept. All nations will join in adopting the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh revealed more than fifty years ago. In His Epistles He asked the parliaments of the world to send their wisest and best men to an international world conference which should decide all questions between the peoples and establish universal peace. This would be the highest court of appeal, and the parliament of man so long dreamed of by poets and idealists would be realized. Its accomplishment would be more far-reaching than the Hague tribunal.
’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to Its Spiritual Destiny
Friends in Chicago bid the Master a heartfelt farewell
Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America
Curated by Anne Perry
- Menon, Jonathan. “November 4, 1912: The Week Ahead.” 239 Days in America, 4 Nov. 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/11/04/november-4-1912-the-week-ahead/. ↩
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 179. ↩
- ’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=9#section226 ↩
- 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, 388-389. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/29#841374064 ↩