`Abdu'l-Bahá's journeys to the West

`Abdu'l-Bahá, during his trip to the United States

`Abdu'l-Bahá's journeys to the West were a series of trips `Abdu'l-Bahá undertook starting at the age of 67 from Palestine to the West from 1910 to 1913. `Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of Bahá'u'lláh, founder of the Bahá'í Faith, was imprisoned at the age of 8 and suffered various degrees of privation most of his life. He was appointed as the successor and head of the Bahá'í Faith upon the death of his father on 29 May 1892. Sixteen years later he was suddenly freed at the age of 64 as a ramification of the Young Turk Revolution in 1908.[1] At the time of his release, the major centres of Bahá'í population and scholarly activity were mostly in Iran,[2] with other large communities in Baku, Azerbaijan,[3] Ashgabat, Turkmenistan,[4] and Tashkent, Uzbekistan.[5]

Meanwhile, in the Occident the religion had been introduced in the late 1890s in several locales. However, by 1910 the religion's followers still numbered less than a few thousands across the entire West.[2] `Abdu'l-Bahá thus took steps to personally present the Bahá'í teachings to the West by travelling to Europe and North America. His first excursion outside of Palestine and Iran was to Egypt in 1910 where he stayed for around a year, followed by a near five-month trip to France and Great Britain in 1911. After returning to Egypt, he left on a trip to North America which lasted nearly 8 months. During that trip he visited many cities across the United States, from major metropolitan areas on the eastern coast of the country, to cities in the midwest, and California on the west coast; he also visited Montreal in Canada. Following his trip in North America he visited various countries in Europe, including France, Britain and Germany for six months, followed by a six-month stay again in Egypt, before returning to Haifa.[1]

With his visits to the West, the small Western Bahá'í community was given a chance to consolidate and embrace a wider vision of the religion; the religion also attracted the attention of sympathetic attention from both religious, academic, and social leaders as well as in newspapers which provided significant coverage of `Abdu'l-Bahá's visits.[6] During his travels `Abdu'l-Bahá would give talks at the homes of Bahá'ís, at hotels, and at other public and religious sites, such as the Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration, the Bethel Literary and Historical Society, at the NAACP, at Howard and Stanford universities, and at various Theosophical Societies, among others. `Abdu'l-Bahá talks across the West also became an important addition to the body of Bahá'í literature.[1] In succeeding decades after his visit the American community substantially grew[7] and then spread across South America, Australasia, Subsaharan Africa and the Far East.[8]

During these journeys Bahiyyih Khánum, his sister, was given the position of acting head of the religion.[9]


Trip to EgyptEdit

`Abdu'l-Bahá left Haifa for Port Said, Egypt on 29 August 1910. Earlier on that day he had accompanied two pilgrims to the Shrine of the Báb, and then he headed down to the port in the city where at around 4pm he set sail on the steamer "Kosseur London" and then telegrammed the Bahá'ís in Haifa that he was in Egypt.[10][11] `Abdu'l-Bahá stayed in the city for around one month where Bahá'ís from Cairo came to visit him.

On 1 October, `Abdu'l-Bahá again set sail; his intention was to go to Europe, but because of his poor health, he instead landed in Alexandria where he stayed for nearly eight months. While in Egypt there was increasingly positive coverage of him and the Bahá'ís from various Egyptian news outlets.[10] While in Alexandria he met with a larger number of people. In November he met with Briton Wellesley Tudor Pole who later became a Bahá'í.[12] He also was visited by Russian/Polish Isabella Grinevskaya who also became a Bahá'í.[13] In late April Louis Gregory, an Africa-American who had gone on Bahá'í pilgrimage, met with `Abdu'l-Bahá while he was in the suburb of Ramleh.[14] Later in May `Abdu'l-Bahá moved to Cairo and got more favourable press coverage, including from Al-Ahram. During his time there he met the Mufti of Egypt, with Abbas II of Egypt, the Khedive of Egypt.[10]

Finally on 11 August 1911 `Abdu'l-Bahá left Egypt towards Europe. He boarded the SS Corsican, an Allan Line Royal Mail Steamer[15][16] towards the port of Marseilles, France accompanied by secretary Mírzá Mahmúd, and personal assistant Khusraw.[17] Memoirs that cover the periods in Egypt include Yazdi, Ali M. (1987). Blessings Beyond Measure Recollections of Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi (illustrated ed.). US Baháʾí Publishing Trust. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-87743-211-1.

First trip to EuropeEdit

`Abdu'l-Bahá's first European trip spanned from August to December 1911, at which time he returned to Egypt. During his first European trip he visited Lake Geneva on the border of France and Switzerland, Great Britain and Paris, France. The purpose of these trips was to support the Bahá'í communities in the West and to further spread his father's teachings,[18] after sending representatives and a letter to the First Universal Races Congress in July.[19][20]

Various memoirs cover this period.[nb 1]

Lake GenevaEdit

When `Abdu'l-Bahá arrived in Marseille, he was greeted by Hippolyte Dreyfus-Barney [fr], a prominent early French Bahá'í.[21] Dreyfus-Barney accompanied `Abdu'l-Bahá to Thonon-les-Bains, a French town, on Lake Geneva that straddles France and Switzerland.[21]

`Abdu'l-Bahá stayed in Thonon-les-Bains in France for a few days before going to Vevey in Switzerland. In Vevey `Abdu'l-Bahá offered a talk on the Bahá'í point of view on the immortality of soul and relationship of worlds and on the subject of divorce. He also met Horace Holley there.[22] While in Thonon, `Abdu'l-Bahá met Mass'oud Mirza Zell-e Soltan, who had asked to meet `Abdu'l-Bahá. Soltan, who had ordered the execution of King and Beloved of martyrs, was the eldest grandson of Naser al-Din Shah Qajar who had ordered the Execution of the Báb himself. Juliet Thompson, an American Bahá'í and artist who had also come to visit `Abdu'l-Bahá, shared comments of Hippolyte who heard Soltan's stammering apology for past wrongs. `Abdu'l-Bahá embraced him and invited his sons to lunch.[23] Thus Bahram Mirza Sardar Mass'oud and Akbar Mass’oud, another grandson of Naser al-Din Shah Qajar, met with the Bahá'ís, and apparently Akbar was greatly affected by meeting `Abdu'l-Bahá.[24]

Great BritainEdit

On 3 September `Abdu'l-Bahá left the shores of Lake Geneva travelling towards London where he arrived on 4 September; he would stay in London until 23 September. While in London `Abdu'l-Bahá stayed at a residence of Lady Blomfield.[25] On the first few days in London `Abdu'l-Bahá was interviewed by the editor of the Christian Commonwealth, a weekly newspaper devoted to a liberal Christian theology.[26][27] The editor was also present at a meeting of the Reverend Reginald John Campbell and `Abdu'l-Bahá and wrote about the meeting in the 13 September edition of the Christian Commonwealth and the reprinted in the Star of the West Bahá'í magazine.[26] After the meeting, the Reverend Reginald John Campbell asked `Abdu'l-Bahá to speak at City Temple.

Later in the month `Abdu'l-Bahá took a trip to Byfleet near Surrey where he visited Alice Buckton and Anett Schepel at their home.[17][28][29] On the evening of 10 September he gave his first public talk in the Occident at City Temple[28] The English translation was read by Wellesley Tudor Pole[17] and the talk was printed in the Christian Commonwealth newspaper on 13 September.

On 17 September, at the invitation of Albert Wilberforce, Archdeacon of Westminster, he addressed the congregation of Saint John the Divine, in Westminster.[17] He spoke on the subject of the kingdoms of mineral, vegetable, animal, humanity, and the Manifestations of God beneath God;[28] Albert Wilberforce read the English translation himself.[17] On the 28th `Abdu'l-Bahá returned to Byfleet again visiting Buckhorn and Schepel.[28][29] He visited Bristol on the 23rd–25th for several receptions and meetings though less public. On one such meeting he mentioned "When a thought of war enters your mind, suppress it, and plant in its stead a positive thought of peace."[17] On the 30th he spoke to a Theosophical Society meeting with Annie Besant, Alfred Percy Sinnett, Eric Hammond,[17] who later published a volume on the religion in 1909.[30] Back in London Alice Buckton visited Abdu'l-Bahá once again, and he went to Church House, Westminster to see a Christmas mystery play titled Eager Heart that she had written.[17]

From 23 to 25 September, `Abdu'l-Bahá went to Bristol where he met with many leading individuals including David Graham Pole, Claude Montefiore, Alexander Whyte, Lady Evelyn Moreton among others.[17] Rev. Peter Z. Easton, a Presbyterian in the Synod of the Northeast in New York who was stationed in Tabriz, Iran from 1873 to 1880, didn't have an appointment to meet `Abdu'l-Bahá.[31][32] Easton attempted to meet and challenge `Abdu'l-Bahá and in his actions made those around him uncomfortable; `Abdu'l-Bahá withdrew him to a private conversation and then he left. Later he printed a polemic attack on the religion, Bahaism — A Warning, in the Evangelical Christendom newspaper of London (September–October 1911 edition.)[33] The polemic was later responded to by Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl in his book The Brilliant Proof written in December 1911.[34]

`Abdu'l-Bahá returned to London on 25 September, and a pastor of a Congregational church in the east end of London invited him to give an address on the following Sunday evening.[17] `Abdu'l-Bahá also visited to Oxford University where he met the higher Bible critic, Dr. Thomas Kelly Cheyne. Though ill, `Abdu'l-Bahá embraced him and praised his life's work.[17][35] News of his activity in Britain was covered in New Zealand in a couple publications.[36][37][38]

Ezra Pound met with him about the end of September, later explaining to Margaret Craven that Pound approached him like "an inquisition… and came away feeling that questions would been an impertinence…."[39]

The whole point is that they have done instead of talking, and a persian movement for religious unity that claims the feminine soul equal to the male… is worth while."[39]

On 1 October 1911, he returned to Bristol to perform a wedding of Bahá'ís who had traveled from Persia and who brought humble gifts as well.[17][28] On 3 October `Abdu'l-Bahá left London for Paris, France.[1]


`Abdu'l-Bahá stayed in Paris for nine weeks, during which time he stayed at a residence at 4 Avenue de Camoens, and during his time there he was helped by Mr. Dreyfus-Barney and his wife, along with Lady Blomfield who had come from London. `Abdu'l-Bahá's first talk in Paris was on 16 October,[40] and later that same day guests gathered in a poor quarter outside Paris at a home for orphans by Mr and Mrs. Ponsonaille which was much praised by `Abdu'l-Bahá.[41]

From almost every day from 16 October to 26 November he gives talks.[40][42] On a few of the days, he gave more than one talk. The book Paris Talks, part I, records transcripts of `Abdu'l-Bahá's talks while he was in Paris for the first time. The substance of the volume is from notes Sara Louisa Blomfield,[43] her two daughters and a friend.[44] While most of his talks were held at his residence, he also gave talks at the Theosophical Society headquarters, at L'Alliance Spiritaliste, and on 26 November he spoke at Charles Wagner's church Foyer de l-Ame.[42] He also met with various people including Muhammad ibn `Abdu'l-Vahhad-i Qazvini and Seyyed Hasan Taqizadeh.[45] It was during one of the meetings with Taqizadeh that `Abdu'l-Bahá personally first spoke on a telephone.

On 2 December 1911 `Abdu'l-Bahá left France, returning to Egypt.[10]

Trip to North AmericaEdit

Railroads of the United States in 1918 - Project Gutenberg eText 16960

In the following year, `Abdu'l-Bahá undertook a much more extensive journey to the United States and Canada, ultimately visiting some 40 cities, to once again spread his father's teachings.[46] He arrived in New York City on 11 April 1912. While he spent most of his time in New York, he visited many cities on the east coast. Then in August he started a more extensive journey across to the West coast before starting to return east at the end of October. On 5 December 1912 he set sail back to Europe.[18] Several people, including `Abdu'l-Bahá himself, Dr. Allan L. Ward, author of 239 Days', and critic Samuel Graham Wilson have taken note of the uniqueness of this trip.[47][48] Ward wrote: "... never before during the formative years of a religion has a figure of like stature made a journey of such magnitude in a setting so different from that of His native land." Wilson stated: "But Abdul Baha, except for Hindu Swamis, was the first Asiatic revelator America has received. Its hospitality showed up well. The public and press neither stoned the "prophet" nor caricatured him but looked with kindly eye upon the grave old man, in flowing oriental robes and white turban, with waving hoary hair and long white beard."

During his nine months on the continent, he met with David Starr Jordan, president of Stanford University; Rabbi Stephen Samuel Wise of New York City; the inventor Alexander Graham Bell; Jane Addams, the noted social worker; the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, who was touring America at the time;[49] Herbert Putnam, Librarian of Congress; the industrialist and humanitarian Andrew Carnegie; Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor; the Arctic explorer Admiral Robert Peary; as well as hundreds of American and Canadian Bahá’ís, recent converts to the religion.[50]

A large number of memoirs cover this period[nb 2] as well as a wide array of newspaper stories.[51][52]

On the RMS CedricEdit

`Abdu'l-Bahá boarded the RMS Cedric in Alexandria, Egypt bound for Naples on 25 March 1912.[1] Others with him included Shoghi Effendi, Asadu'lláh-i-Qumí, Dr Amínu'lláh Faríd, Mírzá Munír-i-Zayn, Áqá Khusraw, and Mahmúd-i-Zarqání.[53] During the voyage a member of the Unitarians onboard requested if `Abdu'l-Bahá would send a message to them. He replied with a message announcing "… Glad tidings, glad tidings, the Herald of the Kingdom has raised His voice."[54] Through several conversations it was arranged by several passengers that he address a larger audience on the ship.[55] The ship arrived in Naples harbour on 28 March 1912,[56] and on the next day several Bahá'ís from America and Britain boarded the ship. `Abdu'l-Bahá and his group did not disembark for fear of being confused with Turks during the ongoing Italo-Turkish War. Shoghi Effendi and two others were refused further passage by reason of a minor illness and were taken ashore. Though all were not convinced of the sincerity of the diagnosis and some presumed it was ill will against the voyagers as if they were Turkish.[1]

The American Bahá'í community had sent thousands of dollars urging `Abdu'l-Bahá to leave the Cedric in Italy and travel to England to sail on the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic. Instead he returned the money for charity and continued the voyage on the Cedric.[57] From Naples, the group sailed on to New York — the group included `Abdu'l-Bahá, Asadu'lláh-i-Qumí, Dr Amínu'lláh Faríd, Mahmúd-i-Zarqání, Mr and Mrs Percy Woodcock and their daughter from Canada, Mr and Mrs Austin from Denver, Colorado, and Miss Louisa Mathew.[58] Other notables aboard included at least two Italian embassy officials; note `Abdu'l-Bahá was listed as an "author" on immigration paperwork.[59] They passed Gibraltar on 3 April onward to New York.[60] Many letters and telegrams were sent and received during the voyage as well as various tablets written.

New EnglandEdit

The SS Cedric arrived in New York harbour on the morning of 11 April and telegrams were sent and received from Bahá'í local spiritual assemblies to announce his safe arrival while the passengers were processed for quarantine.[61] Bahá'ís who had gathered at the port were generally sent to gather at a home where `Abdu'l-Bahá was to visit later. Reporters interviewed him while he was on board and he elaborated on the trip and his goals. However a few Bahá'ís, including Marjorie Morten, Rhoda Nichols and Juliet Thompson, hid themselves to catch a glimpse of `Abdu'l-Bahá.[62] His arrival in New York was covered by various different newspapers including the New York Tribune[63] and the Washington Post.[64]

While in New York he stayed at The Ansonia hotel.[65] Several blocks to the north west of the hotel was the residence of Edward B. Kinney, where `Abdu'l-Bahá held his first meeting with the American Bahá'ís;[66] his next talk was at given at Howard MacNutt's residence. From 11 April until 25 April he gave at least one talk a day and most mornings and afternoons were spent meeting often one by one with visitors coming to his residence.[53][67][68] During `Abdu'l-Bahá's time in New York, Lua Getsinger helped correspond with various Bahá'ís about `Abdu'l-Bahá's plans as they evolved.[69]

Rev. Percy Stickney Grant, through association with Juliet Thompson, invited `Abdu'l-Bahá to speak at Church of the Ascension on the evening of 14 April.[67] The event was covered by the New York Times,[70] the New York Tribune,[71] and the Washington Post.[72] The event caused a stir because, while there were rules in the Episcopal Church Canon forbidding someone of another ordination from preaching from the pulpit without the consent of the bishop, there was no provision against a non-ordained person offering prayer in the chancel.[73]

Mary Williams, also known as Kate Carew, known for her caricatures,[74] was among those who visited `Abdu'l-Bahá and travelled with him for a number of days. On 16 April, with Mary Williams still travelling with him, `Abdu'l-Bahá visited the Bowery.[75] Mary Williams noted that she was impressed with `Abdu'l-Bahá's generosity of spirit in bringing people of social standing to the Bowery as well as that he then gave money to the poor.[57][75][76][77] Some boys were reported to heckle the event but were invited afterwards for a personal meeting. At this meeting, after greeting all the boys, `Abdu'l-Bahá singled out an African-American boy and compared him to a black rose as well as rich chocolate.[78]

In Boston newspaper reporters asked `Abdu'l-Bahá why he had come to America, and he stated that he had come to participate in conferences on peace and that just giving warning messages is not enough.[79] A full page summary of the religion was printed in the New York Times.[80] A booklet on the religion was published late April.[81]

On 20 April `Abdu'l-Bahá left New York and travelled to Washington D.C. where he stayed until 28 April. While in Washington D.C. a number of meetings and notable events took place. On 23 April `Abdu'l-Bahá attended several events;[82] first he spoke at Howard University to over 1000 students, faculty, administrators and visitors — an event commemorated in 2009.[83] Then he attended a reception by the Persian Charg-de-Affairs and the Turkish Ambassador;[84] at this reception `Abdu'l-Bahá moved the place-names such that the only African-American present, Louis George Gregory, was seated at the head of the table next to himself.[84][85][86][87] `Abdu'l-Bahá also welcomed William Sulzer, then a Democratic Congressman and later Governor from New York, as well as Champ Clark, then Speaker of the House of Representatives.[88]

Later during his stay in Washington, `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke at Bethel Literary and Historical Society, the leading African-American institution of Washington DC.[89] The talk had been planned out by the end of March due to the work of Louis Gregory.[84][90][91] While in Washington `Abdu'l-Bahá continued to speak from the Parson's home to individuals and groups.[92] A Methodist minister suggested some of his listeners should teach him Christianity, though also judged him sincere.[93]


Bahá'í House of Worship, Wilmette, Illinois.

`Abdu'l-Bahá arrived in Chicago on 29 April,[1] though later than anticipated as he had hoped to be in Chicago in time for the American Bahá'í national convention.[94] While in Chicago `Abdu'l-Bahá attended the last session of the newly founded Bahá'í Temple Unity, and laid the dedication stone of the Bahá'í House of Worship near Chicago.[95]

Robert Sengstacke Abbott, an African American lawyer and newspaper publisher, met `Abdu'l-Bahá when covering a talk of his during his stay in Chicago at Jane Addams' Hull House.[96] He would later become a Bahá'í in 1934.[97] Also while `Abdu'l-Bahá was in Chicago, the NAACP's print magazine The Crisis printed an article introducing the religion to their readers,[98] and later in June noted `Abdu'l-Bahá's talk at their fourth national convention.[99][100][101]

`Abdu'l-Bahá left Chicago on 6 May and went to Cleveland where he stayed until the 7th. Though Saichiro Fujita, one of the first Bahá'ís of Japanese descent, was living in Cleveland working for a Dr Barton-Peek, a female Bahá'í, he failed to meet `Abdu'l-Bahá as he came through. He was able to meet `Abdu'l-Bahá later during his further travels.[102] In Cleveland `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke at his hotel twice and was interviewed by newspaper reporters.[103][104] Among some who met `Abdu'l-Bahá in Cleveland included Louise Gregory,[105] and Alain Locke.[106]

On 7 May `Abdu'l-Bahá went to Pittsburgh where a speaking engagement was arranged for him in early April through the efforts of Martha Root.[107][108] He stayed in Pittsburgh for one day before going back to Washington D.C on 8 May 1912.

Back to North EastEdit

Mohonk Mountain House, a resort hotel located on the Shawangunk Ridge

`Abdu'l-Bahá stayed in Washington DC from 8 to 11 May, when he then returned to the New York City area. On 12 May he visited Montclair, NJ, and then on 14 May he went to northern New York state to Lake Mohonk where he addressed the Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration and stayed at the Mohonk Mountain House.[109][110][111][112][113][114]

His talk was covered by many publications,[57][115][116][117][118] and began

"When we consider history, we find that civilization is progressing, but in this century its progress cannot be compared with that of past centuries. This is the century of light and of bounty. In the past, the unity of patriotism, the unity of nations and religions was established; but in this century, the oneness of the world of humanity is established; hence this century is greater than the past."[113]

In the rest of his talk he outlined a brief history of religious conflict, spoke about some of the Bahá'í teachings including the oneness of humanity, the complementary role of religion and science, the equality of women and men, the abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty, and that humanity needs more than philosophy — that it needs the breadth of the Holy Spirit. A reverend heard his presentation and invited him and introduced him at a reception at another event on 28 May.[119][120] Elbert Hubbard, an American writer, also noted `Abdu'l-Bahá's talk at the Mohonk conference.[121] Samuel Chiles Mitchell, then President at the University of South Carolina was present and affected by his presentation.[122] Through correspondence with Gregory, Gregory came to the view that Mitchell had repeated `Abdu'l-Bahá’s words "upon many platforms."

After the conference, `Abdu'l-Bahá returned to New York City, where he stayed until the 22nd, leaving to the Boston area for four days including a trip to Worcester, Massachusetts on the 23rd. On 26 May he returned to New York City, where he would remain for most of his time until 20 June. He took short trips to Fanwood, New Jersey, from 31 May to 1 June, to Milford, Pennsylvania, on 3 June, and to Philadelphia from 8 to 10 June, always returning to New York City.[1]

On 18 June `Abdu'l-Bahá hosted a meeting at the MacNutt's home for the purpose of being filmed and recorded. This film was the second time that `Abdu'l-Bahá was filmed,[nb 3] and was done by Bahá'ís at the home of Howard MacNutt.[123] The film recorded at the MacNutt residence was released as a short movie called "Servant of Glory".[57][124]

Over several days starting on 1 June `Abdu'l-Bahá sat for a life-sized portrait by Juliet Thompson.[57][125] During that time Thompson witnessed Lua Getsinger given the task of conveying `Abdu'l-Bahá's message that New York was the City of the Covenant;[126] when the group moved into the rest of the house Getsinger made the announcement.

Later in the month, `Abdu'l-Bahá visited Montclair, New Jersey from 20 to 25 June,[127] coming back to New York until 29 June. On 29 and 30 June he visited West Englewood, NJ which is now Teaneck and attended a Unity Feast similar to a Nineteen Day Feast[128][129][130] where Bahá'ís, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Caucasians, African-Americans, and Persians attended.[124][131] Among those that attended the event was Martha Root.[108] For her it was a high point in her life and has since been commemorized as `Abdu'l-Bahá's "Souvenir Picnic".[132] It is at this event that Lua Getsinger intentionally walked through poison ivy hoping to make her incapable of leaving the presence of `Abdu'l-Bahá when he asked her to travel ahead of him to California.[67][133] Today the property is known as the Wilhelm Bahá'í Properties.[57]

His further travels took him to Morristown, New Jersey on 30 June and he then went back to New York for a nearly a month from 30 June to 23 July, with a sojourn in West Englewood, NJ on 14 July. Starting on 23 June `Abdu'l-Bahá went to New England on his way to Canada in late August. He stayed in Boston for 23 and 24 July, and then went to the summer home of Mr. and Mrs. Parsons in Dublin, New Hampshire from 24 July to 16 Aug.[134] He then went to Eliot, Maine from 16 to 23 Aug, where he stayed in Green Acre which was then a conference facility, and which since has become a Bahá'í school.[135][136] His final destination in New England was Malden, Massachusetts where he stayed from 23 to 29 August.[1]

Trip to CanadaEdit

`Abdu'l-Bahá had mentioned an intention of visiting Montreal as early as February 1912 and in August a phone number was listed for inquirers to arrange appointments for his visit there. He left to Boston and then rode to Montreal where he arrived near midnight on 30 August 1912 at the Windsor train station on Peel Street and was greeted by William Sutherland Maxwell. He would stay in Montreal until 9 September. On his first day in the city he was visited by Frederick Robertson Griffin who would later lead the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia. Later that morning he visited a friend of the Maxwell's who had a sick baby. In the afternoon he took a car ride around Montreal. That evening a reception was held including a local socialist leader. The next day he spoke at a Unitarian church on Sherbrooke Street. Anne Savage recorded that she had sought him out but uncharacteristically was shy upon seeing him. He took up residence in the Windsor Hotel. The next day William Peterson, then Principal of McGill University visited him. After a day of meeting individuals he took an afternoon excursion on his own possibly to the francophone part of the city and back. That evening he spoke to a socialist meeting addressing "The Economic Happiness of the Human Race" — that we are as one family and should care for each other, not to have absolute equality but to have a firm minimum even for the poorest, to note foremost the position of the farmer, and a progressive tax system.[137] The next day he rode the Mountain Elevator of Montreal The next day Paul Bruchési Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Montreal visited him and later he spoke at the Saint James United Church; his talk outlined a comprehensive review of the Bahá'í teachings. Afterwards he said:

I find these two great American nations highly capable and advanced in all that appertains to progress and civilization. These governments are fair and equitable. The motives and purposes of these people are lofty and inspiring. Therefore, it is my hope that these revered nations may become prominent factors in the establishment of international peace and the oneness of the world of humanity; that they may lay the foundations of equality and spiritual brotherhood among mankind; that they may manifest the highest virtues of the human world, revere the divine lights of the Prophets of God and establish the reality of unity so necessary today in the affairs of nations. I pray that the nations of the East and West shall become one flock under the care and guidance of the divine Shepherd. Verily, this is the bestowal of God and the greatest honor [sic] of man. This is the glory of humanity. This is the good pleasure of God. I ask God for this with a contrite heart.[138]

`Abdu'l-Bahá's visit to Montreal provided notable newspaper coverage; on the night of his arrival the editor of the Montreal Daily Star met with him and that newspaper along with The Montreal Gazette, Montreal Standard, Le Devoir and La Presse among others reported on `Abdu'l-Bahá's activities.[139][140] The headlines in those papers included "Persian Teacher to Preach Peace", "Racialism Wrong, Says Eastern Sage, Strife and War Caused by Religious and National Prejudices", and "Apostle of Peace Meets Socialists, Abdul Baha's Novel Scheme for Distribution of Surplus Wealth."[140] The Montreal Standard, which was distributed across Canada, took so much interest that it republished the articles a week later; the Gazette published six articles and Montreal's largest French language newspaper published two articles about him.[139] The Harbor Grace Standard newspaper, of Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, printed a story summarizing several of his talks and trips.[141] After he left the country, the Winnipeg Free Press highlighted his position on the equality of women and men.[142] All together some accounts of his talks and trips would reach 440,000 in French and English coverage.[143] He travelled through several villages on the way back to the States.[144]

Travel to the West coastEdit

`Abdu'l-Bahá left Canada and started his travel to the American West coast stopping in multiple places in the country during his travels. From 9 September through 12th he stayed in Buffalo, New York, where he made a fleeting visit to Niagara Falls on 12 September.[145] He then travelled to Chicago (12–15 September), Kenosha, Wisconsin (15–16 September), back to Chicago on 16 September, and then to Minneapolis where he stayed from 16 to 21 September.

His further travels took him to Omaha, Nebraska (21 September), Lincoln, Nebraska (23 September), Denver, Colorado ( 24–27 September), Glenwood Springs, Colorado (28 September), and Salt Lake City (29–30 September).[146][147] In Salt Lake City, `Abdu'l-Bahá, accompanied by his translators, Saichiro Fujita and others attended the Utah State Fair and visited the Mormon Tabernacle. During the Mormon's annual convention, at the steps of the Temple, he was reported to have said: "They built me a temple but they will not let me in!" He left the next day and travelled by railcar to San Francisco, on what was then the Central Pacific Railroad, through Reno. Traveling all day through Nevada on its way to California, the train made regular stops but there's no record of `Abdu'l-Bahá disembarking until his arrival in San Francisco. While traversing the Sierra Nevada, he made a reference to observing the snow sheds at Donner Pass and the struggle of the pioneering members of the Donner Party.


`Abdu'l-Bahá arrived in San Francisco on 4 October.[148][149] During his visit to California he mostly stayed in Bay Area including from 4–13 October, 16–18 October, 21–25 October with shorter trips to Pleasanton from 13 to 16 October, to Los Angeles from 18–21 October and to Sacramento from 25–26 October While in San Francisco, `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke at Stanford University on 8 October, and at Temple Emmanuel-El on 12 October.

When `Abdu'l-Bahá arrived in Los Angeles he went to the Hotel Lankershim, where he would reside during his stay, and where he would later give a talk.[150][nb 4] On his first full day in Los Angeles `Abdu'l-Bahá, along with twenty-five other Bahá'ís, visited Thornton Chase's grave on 19 October. Thornton Chase was the first American Bahá'í, and he had only recently moved to Los Angeles and helped form the first Local Spiritual Assembly in the city.[151] `Abdu'l-Bahá was eager to meet Thornton Chase, but Chase died on the evening of 30 September shortly before `Abdu'l-Bahá arrived in California on 4 October. `Abdu'l-Bahá designated Chase's grave a place of pilgrimage, and revealed a tablet of visitation, which is a prayer to say in remembrance of a person, and decreed that his death be commemorated annually.[152]

Back across AmericaEdit

After his visit to California, `Abdu'l-Bahá started his trip back to the East coast. On his way back he stopped in Denver (28–29 October), Chicago (31 October – 3 November) and Cincinnati (5–6 November) before arriving in Washington, D.C. on 6 November. In Washington he was invited to speak to the Washington Hebrew Congregation at their temple on 9 November.[153]

Later on 11 November, he travelled to Baltimore, where his arrival was anticipated from early April,[154] and he spoke at a Unitarian church saying in part that "the world looked to America as the leader in the world-wide peace movement" and "not being a rival of any other power and not considering colonization schemes or conquests, made it an ideal country to lead the movement."[155][156] On the same day he travelled to Philadelphia, and the next day on 12 November he arrived back to New York where he stayed until he would leave back to Europe 5 December. During his stay in New York `Abdu'l-Bahá addressed a suffragette group elaborating on the equality of women and men.[157]

On 5 December `Abdu'l-Bahá left New York, sailing for Liverpool on the RMS Celtic.[158][159]

Second trip to EuropeEdit

`Abdu'l-Bahá arrived in Liverpool on 13 December,[160] and over the next six months he visited Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, and Germany before finally returning to Egypt on 12 June 1913.[18]

Several memoirs cover this period.[nb 5]

Great BritainEdit

After his arrival in Liverpool `Abdu'l-Bahá stayed in the city for three days before going to London by train on 16 December. He stayed in London until 6 January 1913 and during his stay there he gave multiple talks. In one of his talks on 2 January he spoke about women's suffrage to the Women's Freedom League — part of his address, and the accompanying print coverage of his talk, noted the examples of Táhirih, Mary Magdalene, and Queen Zenobia to the organization.[161][162]

`Abdu'l-Bahá left London by the Euston Station at 10am and arrived in Edinburgh at 6.15pm where he was met by Jane Elizabeth Whyte, a notable Scottish Bahá'í and wife of Alexander Whyte, and others.[163][164] While in Edinburgh he and his associates stayed at the Georgian House of #7 Charlotte Square. On 7 January `Abdu'l-Bahá visited the Outlook Tower, and then went on a driving tour of some of Edinburgh and the nearby countryside;[165] later in the afternoon he met with students of the University of Edinburgh in the library of 7 Charlotte Sq, followed by a talk to the Edinburgh Esperanto Society in the Freemason's Hall. The meeting in the library was run by Alexander Whyte who said "Dear and honoured Sir, I have had many meetings in this house, but never have I seen such a meeting It reminds me of what St. Paul said, ' God hath made of one blood all nations of men,' and of what our Lord said, ' They shall come from the East and the West, from the North and the South, and shall sit down in the Kingdom of God.'"[166]

`Abdu'l-Bahá's stay in Edinburgh was covered by The Scotsman newspaper.[167][168][169][170] The newspaper coverage lead to a stream of visitors and speaking engagements on 8 Jan; he spoke at the Edinburgh College of Art, and the North Canongate School.[nb 6] Later in the evening he spoke at Rainy Hall, which is part of New College, which was followed by a viewing of Handel's Messiah in St Giles' Cathedral. Visitors again came on the 9th, and in the evening he gave a talk with the Theosophical society hosted by David Graham Pole. That night and or early the next morning `Abdu'l-Bahá wrote a letter to Andrew Carnegie.[171][172] The letter commented on reading The Gospel of Wealth.[173][174] `Abdu'l-Bahá again sent a letter to Carnegie in 1915.[175]

`Abdu'l-Bahá and his associates leave Edinburgh mid-morning on the 10th, and went back to London until the 15th. Then he was in Bristol on 15 and 16 January, coming back to London where he stayed until the 21st, except for a trip to Woking on the 18th.[1]

Continental EuropeEdit

`Abdu'l-Bahá, near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, 1913.

`Abdu'l-Bahá's arrived in Paris on 22 January; the visit which was his second to the city last for a couple months. During his stay in the city he continued his public talks, as well as with meeting Bahá'ís, including locals, those from Germany, and those who had come from the East specifically to meet with him. During his stay in Paris, `Abdu'l-Bahá's stayed at an apartment at 30 Rue St Didier which was rented for him by Hippolyte Dreyfus-Barney.[176]

Some of the notables that `Abdu'l-Bahá met while in Paris include the Persian minister in Paris, several prominent Ottomans from the previous regime, professor 'Inayatu'llah Khan, and E.G. Browne.[176] He also gave a talk on the evening of the 12th to the Esperantists, and on the next evening gave a talk to the Theosophists at the Hotel Moderne. He had met with a group of Pairs professors and theological students at Pasteur Henri Monneir's Theological Seminary; Pasteur Monnier was a distinguished Protestant theologian, vice-president of the Protestant Federation of France and professor of Protestant theology in Paris.[177] Around a week later, on the 21st, `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke at the Salle de Troyes which was organized by L'Alliance Spiritualiste.[176] On 30 March, `Abdu'l-Bahá left Paris toward Stuttgart.

He visited Germany for 8 days in 1913, including visiting Stuttgart, Esslingen and Bad Mergentheim.[18] During this visit he spoke to a youth group as well as a gathering of Esperantists.[178] `Abdu'l-Bahá left Stuttgart to go to Budapest, and on his way he changed trains in Vienna, where a number of Iranian Bahá'ís were waiting for him.[179] He spoke to them while he was waiting for the train to Budapest. In Budapest `Abdu'l-Bahá met with a number of well known social leaders including academics and leaders of peace movements including Turks, Arabs, Jews and Catholics. See the Bahá'í Faith in Hungary. He also met with the Theosophical Society, and the Turkish Association. On 11 April he spoke at the hall of the old building of parliament, and on the next day he spoke to some visitors who included the president of the Turanian Society.[179] `Abdu'l-Bahá was supposed to leave to Vienna on the 15th, but because of a cold he did not travel to Vienna until 18 April.[179][180] In Vienna `Abdu'l-Bahá met with the Persian minister, the Turkish Ambassador in multiple occasions, and spoke with Theosophists on three separate days. He also met with Bertha von Suttner, who was the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.[179] He left Vienna on the 24th, and went back to Stuttgart where he arrived early on 25 April 1913. During his week in Stuttgart, he mostly stayed at his hotel due to a lingering cold, but he did give a talk at a museum, as well as receiving guests at his room.[181]

`Abdu'l-Bahá left Stuttgart on 1 May, arriving in Paris on the 2nd for his third stay in the French capital; he stayed in Paris until 12 June.[181] Because his travels had led to reduced physical strength, `Abdu'l-Bahá was largely unable to go to meetings held in Bahá'í homes during his final stay in Paris, but he did hold meetings and talks at his hotel. He also met again with Turkish and Persian ministers. On June 6h, Ahmed Izzet Pasha, the former grand vizier of the Ottoman Empire, gave a dinner party for `Abdu'l-Bahá.[181] `Abdu'l-Bahá gave his final farewell at the Paris train station, when he boarded a train for Marseilles on 12 June. He stayed in Marseilles for one night before boarding the P & O steamer Himalaya early the next morning on 13 June. The steamer landed in Port Said in Egypt on 17 June 1913.[181]

Return to EgyptEdit

When `Abdu'l-Bahá returned to Egypt, he decided not to immediately go back to Haifa. He stayed in Port Said until 11 July, and during his time there he met with many Bahá'ís, who had come to visit him from Haifa, and local Muslims and Christians.[181] Because of bad weather conditions, `Abdu'l-Bahá moved to Ismailia, but there he contracted a fever and only attended his mail during his week there. Thinking that the humid conditions in Alexandria would be better for his health, `Abdu'l-Bahá travelled on 17 July to a Ramleh, a suburb of Alexandria. On 1 August, his grandson Shoghi Effendi, his sister Bahiyyih Khánum and his eldest daughter came to visit him from Haifa.[181] Later during his stay he again met with Abbas II of Egypt, the Khedive of Egypt. Finally on 2 December he boarded a Lloyd Triestino boat, and headed for Haifa with stops in Port Said and Jaffa. He landed in Haifa in the early afternoon of 5 December 1913.[181]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Note several volumes covering the talks given on `Abdu'l-Bahá's journeys are of incomplete substantiation — "The Promulgation of Universal Peace", "Paris Talks" and "`Abdu'l-Bahá in London" contain transcripts of `Abdu'l-Bahá's talks in North America, Paris and London respectively. While there exists original Persian transcripts of some, but not all, of the talks from "The Promulgation of Universal Peace", "Paris Talks", there are no original transcripts for the talks in "`Abdu'l-Bahá in London". See Research Department of the Bahá'í World Center (22 October 1996). "Authenticity of some Texts". Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2010..
  2. ^ Transcripts of many talks given by `Abdu'l-Bahá in the US and Canada can be found in: Other memoirs covering the period include: Special mention should note the book 239 Days; `Abdu'l-Bahá's Journey in America by Dr. Allan L. Ward which brings together various references including newspapers, magazines, and memoirs for a detailed review of this period. The book builds on Ward's 1960 PhD dissertation. Ward also presented at the 5th Annual Canadian Association for Bahá'í Studies with a talk titled "`Abdu'l-Bahá and the American Press" and also published a number of essays in World Order Magazine, a Bahá'í serial, at least 3 times from 1968 to 1972.
  3. ^ The first film was by a production company that asked if they could film him for few minutes to appear in a newsreel the first week he arrived He agreed over the objection of the Bahá'ís who felt the process was not socially proper. This first film was incorporated into a 1985 documentary by the BBC TV unit in 1985 called "The Quiet Revolution" as part of the "Everyman" TV series.
  4. ^ The hotel was located at Broadway and 7th. More information about the hotel can be found at Dickerson, Brent C. "A Visit to Old Los Angeles". Indexes of Grab-Bag Essays and Old Los Angeles Episodes. Archived from the original on 1 May 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2010.. The hotel was sold in 1919 and the company that owned it dissolved in 1933 Thompson, Daniella. "The Shattuck Hotel: Berkeley's Once and Future Jewel?". East Bay: Then and Now. Berkely Landmarks. Archived from the original on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  5. ^ Transcripts of many talks given by `Abdu'l-Bahá in the US and Canada can be found in: Other memoirs covering the period include:
  6. ^ The school was closed and renamed the "Canongate Venture""The Canongate Venture". Canongate Community Forum. 13 August 1987. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2010. scheduled for demolition in 2008 "Report on the Canongate Project, May – June 2008" (PDF). Canongate Community Forum. 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2010. but which survived at least to 2010 "A New Canongate Venture". Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust. 2010. Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2010.


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