The Wilson Landslide 1
Back in Princeton, a thousand undergraduates — all of them male — streamed out of Alexander Hall where they had been following the election returns, paraded up Nassau Avenue which was alight with red fire, and camped outside the President-elect’s house on Cleveland Lane. At 11:30, Woodrow Wilson stepped up onto a chair on the small front porch of his cottage to address his former students. “I have no feeling of triumph tonight,” he said, “but a feeling of solemn responsibility. I know the very great task ahead of me.”
“Prosperity has carried us into devious paths. There is much to reconstruct, and it will take a generation to work out what America must achieve.”
The audience of young men gave the President-elect their college yells. After losing recently to the Harvard football team, Princeton hadn’t had much to cheer about. But now, the New-York Tribune said, “Princeton was satisfied. If it could not win the football championship it had at least elected a President.”
The Journey East: Chicago, Cincinnati, Washington, D.C., Baltimore 2
He went by train to Washington, D.C., where the Evening Star announced on Wednesday, November 6, that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá “arrived in Washington from Cincinnati at 8:45 o’clock this morning.”
The friends soon packed the house He had rented to hear about His journey to the West. He continued to talk with the friends during the next few days, and they strained to receive the final words from him, knowing that soon He would depart.
The Blessed Tree has taken firm root in the earth and the signs of its greatness have encompassed all regions 3
In the morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá addressed an assemblage of friends concerning the spread of the Cause of God in both the East and the West and the union of the various sects and denominations under the shadow of the Word of God. He stated:
Soon after the ascension of the Blessed Beauty I wrote:
Erelong ye shall see the banner of the Covenant
Hoisted over the world.
Shed splendors on the East,
In the West scatter perfumes,
Invest the Slav with life.
Some of the ignorant scorned us, saying, ‘How can the East and the West be illumined with the light of the Cause and the whole world be perfumed by the sweet fragrance of the Word of God?’ Now behold how this great union has come about and how the hearts of the people of the East and the West have been enlightened with this manifest light. The Blessed Tree has taken firm root in the earth and the signs of its greatness have encompassed all regions.
He then gave an account of the appearance of the Manifestations of God. ‘Outwardly’, He said,
the holy Manifestations of God were completely humiliated and despised. They were mocked by all. But in a short space of time the penetrative influence of their words filled the hearts and the sun of their greatness and majesty illumined the world.
As news of the situation in the Balkans reached us, the tenor of the Master’s speech inclined towards explanations of the verses of the Manifest Book. At a public meeting at Mrs Parsons’s home, He held the book in His hands and explained Bahá’u’lláh’s admonition to Sultán ‘Abdu’l-Azíz and the prophecies about the change of circumstances in Adrianople, asserting that these prophecies were certain to be fulfilled. He also explained the prophecies about the change of circumstances in Tihrán and the uprising of its inhabitants, saying that the fulfillment of those prophecies was a clear proof of the vastness of knowledge and the penetrating influence of the Word of God.
In the evening He spoke on the spread of the Cause of God despite imprisonment by the enemies and the supremacy of the divine Word notwithstanding endless afflictions and troubles. He said:
Bahá’u’lláh, without earthly power and worldly means, laid the foundations for eternal glory and promoted divine teachings. Notwithstanding that all earthly powers and antagonistic peoples and religions arose against Him in order to thwart His efforts and executed twenty thousand of His followers, yet with divine power and heavenly majesty He made His Cause to be all-conquering and His blessed Word to have pervasive influence. And today we see diverse groups from different countries and of various nationalities have found sincere love and true unity within the refuge of His laws and teachings. 4
Talk at Universalist Church, Thirteenth and L Streets, NW, Washington, D.C. 5
Praise be to God! The standard of liberty is held aloft in this land. You enjoy political liberty; you enjoy liberty of thought and speech, religious liberty, racial and personal liberty. Surely this is worthy of appreciation and thanksgiving. In this connection let me mention the freedom, hospitality and universal welcome extended to me during my recent travels throughout America. I wish also to reciprocate fully and completely the warm greeting and friendly attitude of the reverend doctor, pastor of this church, whose loving and quickened susceptibilities especially command acknowledgment. Surely men who are leaders of thought must conform to the example of his kindliness and goodwill. Liberalism is essential in this day—justness and equity toward all nations and people. Human attitudes must not be limited; for God is unlimited, and whosoever is the servant of the threshold of God must, likewise, be free from limitations. The world of existence is an emanation of the merciful attribute of God. God has shone forth upon the phenomena of being through His effulgence of mercy, and He is clement and kind to all His creation. Therefore, the world of humanity must ever be the recipient of bounties from His majesty, the eternal Lord, even as Christ has declared, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” For His bounties, like the light and heat of the sun in the material heavens, descend alike upon all mankind. Consequently, man must learn the lesson of kindness and beneficence from God Himself. Just as God is kind to all humanity, man also must be kind to his fellow creatures. If his attitude is just and loving toward his fellowmen, toward all creation, then indeed is he worthy of being pronounced the image and likeness of God.
Brotherhood, or fraternity, is of different kinds. It may be family association, the intimate relationship of the household. This is limited and subject to change and disruption. How often it happens that in a family love and agreement are changed into enmity and antagonism. Another form of fraternity is manifest in patriotism. Man loves his fellowmen because they belong to the same native land. This is also limited and subject to change and disintegration as, for instance, when sons of the same fatherland are opposed to each other in war, bloodshed and battle. Still another brotherhood, or fraternity, is that which arises from racial unity, the oneness of racial origin, producing ties of affinity and association. This, likewise, has its limitation and liability to change, for often war and deadly strife have been witnessed between people and nations of the same racial lineage. There is a fourth kind of brotherhood, the attitude of man toward humanity itself, the altruistic love of humankind and recognition of the fundamental human bond. Although this is unlimited, it is, nevertheless, susceptible to change and destruction. Even from this universal fraternal bond the looked-for result does not appear. What is the looked-for result? Loving-kindness among all human creatures and a firm, indestructible brotherhood which includes all the divine possibilities and significances in humanity. Therefore, it is evident that fraternity, love and kindness based upon family, native land, race or an attitude of altruism are neither sufficient nor permanent since all of them are limited, restricted and liable to change and disruption. For in the family there is discord and alienation; among sons of the same fatherland, strife and internecine warfare are witnessed; between those of a given race, hostility and hatred are frequent; and even among the altruists, varying aspects of opinion and lack of unselfish devotion give little promise of permanent and indestructible unity among mankind.
Therefore, the Lord of mankind has caused His holy, divine Manifestations to come into the world. He has revealed His heavenly Books in order to establish spiritual brotherhood and through the power of the Holy Spirit has made it practicable for perfect fraternity to be realized among mankind. And when through the breaths of the Holy Spirit this perfect fraternity and agreement are established amongst men—this brotherhood and love being spiritual in character, this loving-kindness being heavenly, these constraining bonds being divine—a unity appears which is indissoluble, unchanging and never subject to transformation. It is ever the same and will forever remain the same.
- Menon, Jonathan. “The Wilson Landslide.” 239 Days in America, 6 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/06/the-wilson-landslide/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 179. [return]
- ’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#section228 [return]
- Mrs Parsons’s account of the events of November 6, 1912 differ markedly from Mahmúd’s. See Hollinger, Agnes Parsons’ Diary, pp. 127-8. https://archive.org/details/abdulbahainameri0000pars/page/126/mode/2up [return]
- 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, 390-391. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/30#671001980 [return]