239 Days in America, Day 225: November 21, 1912 | New York

Jim Crow Comes to Dinner at the Great Northern Hotel 1

‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ WAS TOO late. He was planning to leave America next Wednesday on the Mauretania, a four-funneled steamship of the Cunard line, the sister ship of the Lusitania. It would sail from its pier along the Hudson River at one o’clock in the morning on November 27, 1912, for Liverpool, England. But after spending much of the day in Montclair, New Jersey, on November 23, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá got back to New York too late to reach the ticket office, and missed making the booking. This meant that he would have to remain in New York for at least an extra week.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá had returned from Montclair to attend a farewell banquet organized for him in the ballroom of the Great Northern Hotel that evening. …

Mahmúd-i-Zarqání figured that more than three hundred people attended the celebration. But not one of the guests had been black. Although the African American community had been invited, the hotel owner refused to let them enter the building. “If the people see that one colored person has entered my hotel,” Mahmúd heard him say, “no respectable person will ever set foot in it and my business will go to the winds.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá moved quickly to remedy the situation. The next day, on November 24, he hosted a second banquet for the African American guests who had been denied entry. It was held at the home of Edward and Carrie Kinney, at 780 West End Avenue on the Upper West Side — where he had spoken many times and met many guests during his many weeks in New York.

Not only was it an interracial meeting, attended by both blacks and whites, but the blacks were graciously served by their white hosts. “Behold what an influence and effect the words of Bahá’u’lláh have had upon the hearts,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told them, “that hating and shunning have been forgotten and that prejudices have been obliterated to such an extent that you arose to serve one another with great sincerity.”

Thursday, November 21, 1912 2

The Master was occupied revealing Tablets to the friends until about noon when the crowd downstairs became too large. He appeared in this gathering of eager souls, greeting and extending His kindness to all, saying: ‘I have been busy since early morning and am tired. I do not feel like speaking at all and wish to go out for a walk.’ After a short talk in which He encouraged the friends to establish love and harmony among themselves and to make every effort in the Cause of God, He walked to Broadway and then to Central Park. He was not pleased with the dense population and the height of the buildings, saying: ‘These are injurious to the public’s health. This population should be in two cities, the buildings should be lower and the streets should be tree-lined as they are in Washington. How can these two places compare?’

Indeed, the condition of New York City is strange and its population so large that in addition to surface streets, there are three railway lines running the entire length of the city; one underground, another on the surface and a third above the streets on bridges about two stories high. These railway lines are continuously filled with people and are their mode of transportation. On some of the streets, automobiles and carriages have to stop for some 10 to 15 minutes because of the congestion until the traffic officers give them permission to continue.

Most buildings are from 17 to 18 stories high and each floor has some 20 to 30 apartments, most of which have bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, bathrooms with hot and cold running water and many comforts.

There was a large gathering this evening at Mr and Mrs Kinney’s attended by both old and new friends. The Master’s talk was mainly admonitions to the friends about love and unity among themselves and the propagation of the divine Cause. The hearts and souls were ignited by the fire of the love of God and their tongues praised the Beloved.

17 November 1912, Talk at Genealogical Hall, 252 West Fifty-eighth Street, New York 3

O my God! O my God! Verily, Thou dost perceive those who are present here turning unto Thee, relying upon Thee. O my Lord! O my Lord! Illumine their eyes by the light of love, and enkindle their hearts by the rays streaming from the heaven of the Supreme Concourse. Suffer them to become the signs of Thy bestowal amongst the people and the standards of Thy grace amongst mankind. O Lord! Make those who are here the hosts of heaven, and through their service and instrumentality subdue the hearts of humanity. Cause Thy great mercy to descend upon them, and render all Thy friends victorious. Direct them that they may turn toward Thy Kingdom of mercy and proclaim Thy name among the people. May they lead the people to the bounty of Thy most great guidance.

O Lord! O Lord! Cast the glance of Thy mercy upon them all.

O Lord! O Lord! Ordain for them the beauty of Thy holiness in Thy Kingdom of eternity.

O Lord! O Lord! Protect them in every test, make every foot firm in the pathway of Thy love, and help them to be as mighty mountains in Thy Cause so that their faith shall not be wavering, their sight shall not be dimmed nor hindered from witnessing the lights emanating from Thy supreme Kingdom. Verily, Thou art the Generous. Thou art the Almighty. Verily, Thou art the Clement, the Merciful.

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

‘Abdu’l-Bahá was not pleased with the dense population and congestion in New York City

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

November 21, 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Jim Crow Comes to Dinner at the Great Northern Hotel.” 239 Days in America, 21 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/21/jim-crow-makes-an-unwelcome-appearance-at-the-great-northern-hotel/.
  2. ’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#section243
  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, 441-442. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/32#736336029

239 Days in America, Day 164: September 21, 1912 | Omaha

‘Abdu’l-Bahá Calls On the “Great Commoner” 1

THE GRITTY CRUNCH OF the dirt road gave way to a rhythmic humming from the smooth bricks that paved the long driveway. Their tiny vibrations traveled along the axles of the rented automobile, through its iron chassis, and into the seat cushion on which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sat. Trees lined the drive on either side, and at the top of the hill a mansion made of soft-toned red brick looked down across rolling countryside to the thickly wooded valley of nearby Antelope Creek. Fairview, the home of Mr. and Mrs. William Jennings Bryan, stood three miles south of Lincoln, Nebraska. It was the afternoon of Monday, September 23, 1912.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá had taken the train from Omaha to Lincoln, the capital of the state, to return the courtesy of Bryan’s visit to ‘Akká six and a half years earlier. “We called on Abbas Effendi as we were leaving Palestine,” Bryan had written from Vienna on June 5, 1906, in an article for the Chicago Daily News. He was traveling the lands of the Ottoman Empire and had stopped to visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá who was still a prisoner in ‘Akká.

“The Great Commoner,” as William Jennings Bryan was known at home in America, had not been impressed with Sultan ‘Abdu’l-Hamíd II and the bureaucracy he ran. “The government of the sultan is the worst on earth,” he wrote. “It is more despotic than the Russian government ever was and adds corruption to despotism. . . . The sultan still rules by his arbitrary will, taking life or granting favor according to his pleasure. He lives in constant fear of assassination and yet he does not seem to have learned that his own happiness, as well as justice to the people, demands that the government shall rest upon the will of the governed.”

He found ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, whose teachings he likened to Tolstoy’s minus the strict pacifism, to be a welcome voice of reform. “How much he may be able to do in the way of eliminating the objectionable features of Mohammedanism no one can say,” Bryan thought, “but it is a hopeful sign that there is . . . an organized effort to raise the plane of discussion from brute force to an appeal to intelligence.”

Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah 2

The next morning, September 21, as they were having tea in the room, they read the news of the first Balkan War. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá observed, “‘Our war is the best of all. We conquer all. At the time a crown of thorns was placed on the head of the Christ, He saw the crowns of kings under His feet. Now I see all the powers and nations vanquished and lost in the desert while the Cause of God is victorious over all. The divine Manifestations see with their eyes all the coming events of the world.’”

Saturday, September 21, 1912 3

In the morning, as we were having tea served by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the latest news from the Balkan war was relayed to Him. He commented, in part:

“Our own ‘war’ is good because it conquers all. When a crown of thorns was placed on the head of Christ, He saw with His own eyes the crowns of kings under His feet. Now, when I look, I see all the powers and nations defeated, scattered and lost in the wilderness while the Cause of God is victorious over all and subdues all. All future events are evident and visible to the eyes of the holy Manifestations.”

He illustrated this by narrating the historical events from the digging of ditches to the victory of Islam over the treasuries of Anushírván and Khusraw. The hypocrites, who disbelieved in the promises of Muhammad in their hearts, saw these victories and cried out: ‘This is that which God and His Messenger have promised us.’

The translation of an article regarding universal peace was read to the Master. He said:

“If the republics of the Americas assembled and agreed on the question of peace, and if all of them would turn to the [Peace] Assembly at the Hague, most of the powers of Europe would follow suit. But looking at it from another point of view, if an international war breaks out in Europe, international peace will be established more quickly. Also, if these ideas regarding peace spread among the public, the financiers will refuse to give loans for wars and the manufacture of armaments, the railway companies will abstain from transporting instruments of destruction and the armed forces will not engage in carnage and the spilling of blood. Also the boundaries should be established.”

Later the Master was interviewed by two journalists and spoke to them about the pernicious attitudes of politicians, the destructiveness of war, the validity of the divine teachings regarding universal peace, the unity of religions and the oneness of mankind.

In one of the Tablets revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in honor of a friend in Mázindarán, these words were recorded:

“The light of Bahá’u’lláh has shone to such a degree on the continent of America that in every city where a number of believers reside, the call of ‘Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá’ has been raised. In great churches and meetings ‘Abdu’l-Bahá cries out and proves the truth of the Prophet of God [Muhammad] and of the Báb and of the rising sun of Bahá’u’lláh. Most of the newspapers express praise in glowing articles. Where are the Persians, that they may behold the splendors of the Luminary of the World [Bahá’u’lláh] Whose light has shone forth from the horizon of Mount Awrang and now illumines the mountains and plains of America? In spite of all this, the people of Núr are still asleep and do not know what an honor has been showered upon that region.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá had soup prepared especially for Him for lunch. The Master instructed us to have lunch at the hotel. In the afternoon after tea, the Master left for Lincoln to visit Mr [William Jennings] Bryan, the [future] Secretary of State of the United States, and said:

“During Mr and Mrs Bryan’s last visit to Haifa, we were, while in ‘Akká, in great danger, and the enemies were rebellious and increasingly perverse in those last days, thus he was unable to see us. So now we are going to see him.”

The train had left just as the Master reached the station. He decided to wait for the next train. A few minutes later, a man who had seen our Persian dress and kuláhs came to us and said, ‘We received a telegram from the friends in Minneapolis and have been looking for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.’ He immediately ran to give the news to the other friends and brought them to Him. They were extremely grateful that He had not left by the first train. The Master spoke to them about the major calamities that had befallen the Cause of God, saying:

“Up to now, whatever has occurred has had the effect of spreading the Cause of God. When the Blessed Beauty left Tihrán and when He departed from Baghdád for the Holy Land, it was so devastating that the friends shed tears of blood. Now it has become evident what mysteries were concealed in that event and what victories lay in store; even the prophecies of the holy books regarding the Holy Land and the promised Manifestation were fulfilled through that banishment.”

A professor who had heard of some of the principles of the Bahá’í Cause was very happy and grateful to have visited the Master. At midnight the Master left Omaha and three hours later arrived in Lincoln.

20 September 1912, Talk at Home of Mr. Albert L. Hall, 2030 Queen Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 4

The great question appertaining to humanity is religion. The first condition is that man must intelligently investigate its foundations. The second condition is that he must admit and acknowledge the oneness of the world of humanity. By this means the attainment of true fellowship among mankind is assured, and the alienation of races and individuals is prevented. All must be considered the servants of God; all must recognize God as the one kind Protector and Creator. In proportion to the acknowledgment of the oneness and solidarity of mankind, fellowship is possible, misunderstandings will be removed and reality become apparent. Then will the light of reality shine forth, and when reality illumines the world, the happiness of humankind will become a verity. Man must spiritually perceive that religion has been intended by God to be the means of grace, the source of life and cause of agreement. If it becomes the cause of discord, enmity and hatred, it is better that man should be without it. For in its teachings we seek the spirit of charity and love to bind the hearts of men together. If, on the contrary, we find it alienates and embitters human hearts, we are justified in casting it aside. Therefore, when man through sincere investigation discovers the fundamental reality of religion, his former prejudices disappear, and his new condition of enlightenment is conducive to the development of the world of humanity.

The purport of our subject is that, just as man is in need of outward education, he is likewise in need of ideal refinement; just as the outer sense of sight is necessary to him, he should also possess insight and conscious perception; as he needs hearing, at the same time memory is essential; as a body is indispensable to him, likewise a mind is requisite; one is a material virtue, the other is ideal. As human creatures fitted and qualified with this dual endowment, we must endeavor through the assistance and grace of God and by the exercise of our ideal power of intellect to attain all lofty virtues, that we may witness the effulgence of the Sun of Reality, reflect the spirit of the Kingdom, behold the manifest evidences of the reality of Divinity, comprehend irrefutable proofs of the immortality of the soul, live in conscious atonement with the eternal world and become quickened and awake with the life and love of God.

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

“All future events are evident and visible to the eyes of the holy Manifestations.”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

September 21, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Calls On the “Great Commoner”.” 239 Days in America, 21 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/21/abdul-baha-calls-on-the-great-commoner/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 151.
  3. ’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=7#section181
  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, 327-328. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/24#927538974