January 25, 2014

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s talks in North America -- it is estimated He gave 351 talks to a total of 86,000 people

'Abdu'l-Bahá Abbás visited North America from April 11 to December 5, 1912. His eight-month sojourn took Him to some 38 localities in 15 states and the province of Quebec, Canada. Because His North American trip followed on an earlier European visit, when `Abdu'l-Bahá arrived in New York He had a developed daily routine.

It appears that He gave approximately 351 talks during His trip (of which 139 were published in The Promulgation of Universal Peace), an average of 1.5 per day. Extrapolation from known attendance figures and some statistical assumptions allow one to arrive at a rough figure of 86,000 people who attended them. Particularly noteworthy are the talks He gave in thirty-one liberal and moderate white Protestant churches, fourteen Theosophical and other metaphysical gatherings, five universities, three synagogues, one African American church, the Lake Mohonk Peace Conference, Hull House, and the fourth annual NAACP conference.

'Abdu'l-Bahá's talks can be divided roughly into two types: those to the public and those primarily to Bahá'í audiences. A "generic" public talk gradually developed throughout His journey that emphasized up to ten principles of the Bahá'í Faith. Talks to Bahá'ís, on the other hand—especially the last talk to them in each locality—usually emphasized two things: the Covenant and obedience to `Abdu'l-Bahá as the Center of the Covenant on the one hand, and teaching the Faith on the other. The former emphasis presaged some provisions of the Will and Testament, while the latter anticipated aspects of the Tablets of the Divine Plan. 
(Robert Stockman, Lights of Irfan, volume 13, 2012, ‘Irfán Colloquia)