#94 – 100 Years Ago: April 19, 1912 — ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke in Earl Hall at Columbia University at 5:00 P.M.

April 19, 1912, New York City: ’Abdu’l-Bahá spoke in Earl Hall at Columbia University, at 5:00 p.m.  It was his last day in New York before leaving for Washington and Chicago.  He told His audience “It is our duty to put forth our greatest efforts ad summon all our energies in order that the bonds of unity and accord may be established among mankind.”

p. 36 – 239 Days, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America, by Allan L. Ward, © 1979,  National Spiritual  Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States

April 20, 1912. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left New York City early for Washington DC, a five-hour railroad trip.

p. 38,  239 Days, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America, by Allan L Ward, © 1979


That evening He spoke at a public library to some 400 people and at five reporters.

Agnes Parsons in Washington, had received a telegram from the Master saying that He and His translator would come and stay at the house of the Parson’s, Agnes Parson and her husband, Jeffrey. Other members of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s entourage lived in a rented house in the city during this time.

                                       Background concerning the Bahá’í community in Washington, D.C. 


….it … was home to the most diverse Bahá’í community in North America: it had within its fold a large group of African-Americans, and virtually all social classes—from the working poor to the social elite were represented in it.  As part of the American South, Washington, D.C. was also a city in which racial segregation was a fact of life, and it was on the issue of racial equality that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was most uncompromising during his visit to America. On one occasion which is mentioned briefly in this diary (Agnes Parsons’ Diary) ‘Abdu’l-Bahá shocked some of the white socialites present by insisting that Louis Gregory, an African-American Bahá’í and lawyer, be seated next to him at a society luncheon. In such a milieu, the Bahá’ís found it challenging to comply with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s instruction that they should hold racially integrated meetings.  Even locating a public site for a community dinner honoring ‘Abdu’l-Bahá proved difficult, since no hotels in the city would allow an integrated meeting.

(Agnes Parson’s Diary, ©1996, Kalimát Press, Footnote #15)

NOTE: There is scarcely a mention of any of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talks at the homes of Andrew Dyer and Joseph Hannen,  both of which were sites of racially integrated meetings for the Washington, D. C. Bahá’í community, (Book Footnote #18) or at African -American venues, such as the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, presumably because Mrs. Parsons did not attend most of these events. Such activities were not part of the social world in which she lived. It is remarkable, then, that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá chose Agnes Parsons to spearhead the Racial Amity campaign initiated by the Bahá’í community and just as remarkable that she transcended her social milieu in order to carry out this mandate.

(Agnes Parson’s Diary, ©1996, Kalimát Press, Footnote #15)

NOTE: Agnes Parsons’ careful documentation of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s meetings with prominent figures of the day alone ensures the importance of her diary’s account as a source for the study of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s American travels, the reconstruction of the full details of which will challenge those future historians of the Bahá’í Faith to whom Shoghi Effendi assigns the important task of examining the processes which led to the establishment of the Bahá’í Faith in the New World. (Book Footnote #52).

(Agnes Parson’s Diary, ©1996, Kalimát Press, Book Footnote #52, p. xviii)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá has His meals  as follows:

7 A.M. Tea and bread

1:30 P.M. Dines with the family

4 P.M. Tea

7:30 P.M. Sits with the family at dinner but partakes of no food Himself

          10: P.M. Simple meal

Agnes Parson’s Diary, ©1996, Kalimát Press, p. 13)

NOTE: See Juanita Storch diary (partial)  in World Order, Vol. 25, no 1, Fall 1993, pp. 25-42.

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#93 – 100 Years Ago: April 18,1912 & April 19, 1912: A reporter follows ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to the Bowery Mission

Thursday, April 18, New York City. A newspaper reporter writes about her seeing ‘Abdu’l-Bahá once again. Normally she wrote in a rather caustic style but mellowed after seeing and hearing him. She was surprised to find him meeting people at the Hotel Ansonia. After this meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá invited her to accompany Him during His visit to the Bowery Mission where some 400 men were present belonging to the Mission. He continued to hold her hand during the visit .. . . . The Bowery visit had been arranged through Juliet Thompson as when the men of the mission learned of His visit to America they asked that He speak to them.  The reporter found it ironic that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá distributed coins, quarters, to the men, and did so without calling attention to Himself and that a foreigner was bringing money to American poor.

239 Days, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America, by Allan L. Ward, , p, 29-36

Friday, April 19, 1912: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited the Bowery again. He distributed the money to the poor at the Bowery.

The Diary of Juliet Thompson ; by Juliet  Thompson. p. 256

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#92- 100 Years Ago: News – the sinking of the Titanic reached ‘Abdu’l-Bahá; He visits the Bowery; -first woman pilot flew across the English channel; He is asked by ministers to speak in their churches;

16 April, 1912. TuesdayNew York City.


 -He visits the Bowery; 

‘Abdu’l-Bahá is staying at the Ansonia hotel in New York City. He agreed to speak at the Bowery Mission and asked Juliet Thompson to take a 1000 franc note (about $250) and have it changed to quarters and put in a bag. He handed another 1000 franc note to Edward Getsinger with the same instructions.

The Diary of Juliet Thompson, p. 251


17 April, 1912, Wednesday: Miss Quimby became the first woman pilot to fly across the English channel in an “aeroplane.”

He is asked by ministers to speak in their churches; 

A number of ministers came to request ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to speak in their churches, but He explained He would soon be leaving for Chicago. In addition, He had other matters of great importance to attend to.

         239 Days, Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America, by Allan L. Ward, p. 25


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#91– 100 Years Ago – ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on His first Sunday in America gives His first public talks.

14 April, 1912, New York City, Sunday morning:

On His first Sunday in America ‘Abdu’l-Bahá makes His first public talks.

In the morning He spoke at the Church of the Ascension (located at Fifth Avenue and 10th Street) at the invitation of Dr. Percy Grant, the rector and long time friend of Juliet Thompson. (Dr. Grant, the minister, had, just a few months before, warned his congregation about the ‘Bahá’í sect!)   239 Days, p. 21

Following Dr. Grant’s introduction ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “Dr. Grant has just read from the thirteenth Chapter of Corinthians that the day would come when you would see face to face.”


Following this statement He swerved to another subject.

“I have come hither,” He said, “to find that material civilization has progressed greatly, but the spiritual civilization has been left behind. The material civilization is likened unto the glass of a lamp chimney. the spiritual civilization is like the light in that chimney. The material civilization should go hand-in-hand with the spiritual civilization. Material civilization be likened unto a beautiful body, while spiritual civilization  is the spirit that enters the body and gives to it life. With the propelling power of spiritual civilization the result will be greater.”   He continued on . . . .

(The Diary of Juliet Thompson ; by Juliet  Thompson. ©1983 by Kalimát Press. First edition.  Published from the 1947 typescript prepared and annotated by Juliet   Thompson. (Juliet  Thompson’s house located at 48 West Tenth Street–in 239 Days?)  p. 245.


*He spoke to a congregation of two thousand. . . .[ On the following day, Monday, the New York Herald reported  “ ‘Abdul Bahå in Episcopal Pulpit’ Leader of Oriental  Cult Causes Stir by Preaching in Church of the Ascension”]

           239 Days, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America, by Allan L. Ward, ©1979,  National Spiritual  Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, p, 22-23.


 Sunday evening, April 14,  ‘Abdu’l Bahá  gave His second public talk of the day when He spoke at the Carnegie Lyceum for the Union Meeting of Advanced Thought Centers.(See Promulgation of Universal Peace,

2nd ed. pp. 14-16.

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#90 – 100 Years Ago – New York City Evening Mail newspaper commented on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s message – – that all religions are actually the same and absolutely one ….

13 April, 1912,  Saturday, New York City. 

 The newspaper New York City Evening Mail editorial page commented on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: “Don’t laugh at Abdul Abbas. He has an idea. . . . people with ideas generally are laughed at. But after the world has laughed long enough, it turns around and eats the idea very solemnly and very greedily, and digests it and makes it part of its bone and fiber. Abdul’s idea is that all religions are actually the same, and absolutely one. . . . ”

p. 20 –  239 Days, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America, by Allan L. Ward, ©1979,  National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States


*Abdu’l-Bahá calls for Juliet Thompson to come to meet him at the McNutt house.

The Diary of Juliet Thompson ; by Juliet  Thompson.   Published from the 1947 typescript prepared and annotated by Juliet Thompson.  (Juliet Thompson’s house located at 48 West Tenth Street–in 239 Days?)


He speaks to an immense crowd at Mrs. Marjorie Morton’s home that afternoon.

[141 East 21st Street, New York City. SW,Vol.3, #8,]

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#89 – 100 Years Ago – ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said “Do you appreciate the Day in which you live?”

12 April, 1912, Friday, New York City.

From early morning people were lined up at His (‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s) hotel suite to meet Him.

Howard Colby Ives, the Unitarian minister, wrote “life has never been quite the same since.”

That afternoon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to a thousand persons in the MacNutt home. Later that same day He spoke to another thousand people in Miss Phillips’ studio saying,

“Do you appreciate the Day in which you live?”

  p. 18, 239 Days, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America, by Allan L. Ward, 

©1979,  National Spiritual  Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States

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#88 – 100 Years Ago — on 11 April, 1912.

 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said He will greet those who came to meet Him at the S. S. Cedric at 4:00 p.m. at the Kinney house.

Many hundred people gathered there at 4:00 p.m. standing about in rows and circles, in the big rooms that opened into each other.

239 Days, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America, by Allan L. Ward, ©1979,  National Spiritual  Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States


Dr. Allen Ward writes on p. 213 that the source of unidentified quotations is Mahmúd’s dairy under the date being discussed. Entries in the diary from June 7 to August 10, however, are dated one day earlier than other Western sources date them.  Such is the situation with a number of quotations in this section .  Example: A reference to a meeting held on Friday, 12 April, is printed in this source as Thursday rather than Friday.

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