Elephants in Chicago 1

THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION would be over this evening. It had begun on Tuesday, June 18, 1912, at the Chicago Coliseum on Wabash Avenue. After months of campaign speeches, accusations, and rebuttals — and twelve weeks of primary elections in sixteen states — the delegates were ready to choose either President William Howard Taft or former President Theodore Roosevelt to be the Republican Presidential nominee.

Unlike almost everyone else in the building, William Jennings Bryan didn’t have any skin in the game. He was a Democrat, and had run as the Democratic candidate for President three times, in 1896, 1900, and 1908, losing each time. This week he was here not to politick, but to report. The nation wanted his viewpoint; he was in high demand. Several daily newspapers had contracted with him for his eye on each day’s proceedings. Monday morning’s dispatch evoked the early skirmishes on the convention floor:

“The delegates as they come in are badged, tagged and buttonholed,” Bryan wrote. “The prophets are revising their lists as they learn of additions or defections and the corridors of the hotels resound with the cheers of partisans. These things are to be found in every convention, but they are here in unusual abundance.”

Although he was enjoying himself (“We are having a great time”) he could also see through the hullabaloo. “There is a liberal education in a national convention,” he told the public on Monday, “but much that one learns is not useful to him afterwards.”

It is forbidden to interfere in political matters 2

In the morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to the Bahá’ís and seekers of Montclair about the difference between the kingdom of the Manifestation of God and the kingdom of the material world. In the afternoon many believers from near and far were honored to visit Him. He spoke about some spiritual matters and counseled the friends that it is forbidden to interfere in political matters and that they should obey the laws of their country. Later, several friends arrived with the minister of the Unity Church, who invited the Master for a ride that they might receive His love and bestowals. Today a courier arrived with a special invitation from the Society of the Annual American Celebration [Independence Day, the 4th of July]. However, the Master did not promise to attend and deferred the matter depending on His schedule.

  1. Menon, Jonathan. “Elephants In Chicago.” 239 Days in America, 22 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/22/elephants-in-chicago/. [return]
  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=4#section89 [return]