‘Abdu’l-Bahá Likes Chicago More 1

LONG BEFORE ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ set eyes on Chicago, he had decided that this soot-covered city deserved a special place in his heart.

He left Washington from Union Station on Sunday, April 28 at 5:25 p.m., on a twenty-hour train ride along the B&O Railroad to the Windy City. He had spent seventeen days in two of America’s most impressive cities, yet he was heard to say that he “likes Chicago more.” The reason, it turned out, was quite simple. Discovering it requires us to take a trip back two decades into Chicago’s history…

 At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (Redux) 2

THE PARSONS’ HORSES CLOPPED along the driveway at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue shortly after noon on Sunday, April 28, 1912…

President Taft had invited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to visit him at the White House at 12:30.

The horses came to a halt under the main entrance portico of the executive mansion. But before ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had a chance to dismount, a White House aide rushed out from the executive offices to make President Taft’s apologies. He had been campaigning in Boston this week in advance of the Massachusetts Republican Primary, which was coming up on Tuesday. But he had only arrived back in Washington at 4 a.m. this morning and would have to leave again for New England on the 6:35 p.m. train. Politics was an unpredictable business, and the President had to postpone.

From the White House, the carriage drove south to the Ellipse, an oval-shaped park just beneath the White House’s south lawn.

After several more interviews and a few last minute visits, the horses trotted down Massachusetts Avenue and back to Union Station, where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and his party departed on the 5:25 p.m. train to Chicago.

 “April 28, 1912 Beyond the World of Words” 3

The Master prepared to leave for Chicago. Among those who came to see Him was the ambassador of Great Britain [a note clarifies that it was Edward Alfred Mitchell [Alfred Mitchell-Innes? or Edward A. Mitchell Innes?], not the ambassador but an employee of the British Embassy in Washington—AP], who was very humble and reverent while in His presence. Many friends, believers and seekers were with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá until His departure at 5:30 p.m. As He was leaving He said to Mrs Parsons:

This was the springtime; we had good meetings at your home; I shall never forget them. I shall pray for divine confirmation for you that you may be assisted both materially and spiritually. This material world has an outward appearance, as it has also an inner reality. All created things are interlinked in a chain leading to spirituality and ultimately ending in abstract realities. I hope that these spiritual links will become stronger day by day and that this communication of hearts, which is termed inspiration, will continue. When this connection exists, bodily separation is not important; this condition is beyond the world of words and above all description.

To others He said, ‘I hope these meetings of ours will bring forth everlasting results. The greatest of all benefits is the oneness of humanity and universal peace.’

  1. Sockett, Robert. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Likes Chicago More.” 239 Days in America, April 28, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/28/abdul-baha-likes-chicago-more-2/. [return]
  2. Menon, Jonathan. “At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” 239 Days in America, April 27, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/27/at-1600-pennsylvania-avenue/. [return]
  3. Perry, Anne. “’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in the West …: April 28, 1912 Beyond the World of Words.” ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in the West … (blog), April 28, 2012. https://master-in-america.blogspot.com/2012/04/april-28-1912-beyond-world-of-words.html. [return]