Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Many people reading about the death of Thomas Edison in 1931 would have been among the first generation to have reaped the benefits of his numerous inventions -- from practical electric lighting to recording. They learned in The Post, perhaps for the first time, where the great inventor stood on matters of a more spiritual nature. An excerpt from Oct. 19, 1931:
In the dark hours of early morning, Thomas Alva Edison today passed peacefully from a deep sleep into death, and a world whose civilization he revolutionized paid reverent homage to the most brilliant inventive mind it had ever known.
There was peace in the chamber, where his figure, serene in death, now rested. There was peace throughout the sunshine-flooded park, where he made his home. The physical manifestation of the world's reverence was borne in to his sorrowing family through those myriad channels of communication he himself had worked to perfect -- by telephone and telegraph and radio. But within the grounds of Llewellyn Park there was only the occasional purr of an automobile to disturb the silence in which they permitted him to rest.
Outside the five great gates of the park were uniformed guards preventing an anxious and curious world from intruding upon the Edison family. Inside, at the garage which had been their headquarters during the long hours of Edison's illness, were the representatives of the Nation's newspapers -- and the great journals of many foreign lands -- to give the world their portrayals of the final scenes in a life crowned with activity and color. ...
"Calmly submissive to the will of the Almighty," Mrs. Mina Miller Edison, his wife, bowed to the inevitable and bravely accepted the passing of her husband ...
The mystery of death had found the great scientist, at the last, openly and frankly a believer in the existence of a supreme intelligence. As a philosopher, stoutly declining to become involved in creed or dogma of any branch of religious training, he had evolved his own theory of life and death out of the manifestations of nature into which he had probed throughout a life of experimentation and study.
Hence it was significant, as he lay in death, that there should have come to the waiting newspapermen another message dealing with this phase of his mind.
With the wishes of the family in mind, Arthur L. Walsh gave out the following statement:
"The question has been asked whether Mr. Edison changed his religious beliefs before death. Members of the Edison family state that this is a difficult question to answer because of the widespread misunderstanding of what his beliefs actually were. Mr. Edison can not be said to have changed views attributed to him which he never held.
"He never was an atheist. Although he subscribed to no orthodox creed, no one who knew him could have doubted his belief in and reverence for a Supreme Intelligence, and his whole life, in which the ideal of honest, loving service to his fellowman was predominant, indicated faithfully those two commandments wherein lies `all the law and all the prophets.'"
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