The Power of God in Earliest A.A.
How the First Three A.A. Members Got Sober and Were Cured
A.A. Number One (Bill W.)
Learned as a child that his paternal grandfather, William C. (“Willie”) Wilson, was cured of alcoholism by a conversion in Vermont.
Received a Christian upbringing and training in the Congregational Churches at East Dorset, Vermont, and at Manchester, Vermont. Studied the Bible and took a four-year Bible course at Burr and Burton Academy where he attended daily chapel and weekly church services and became YMCA president.
Years later was told on his third visit to Towns Hospital by his psychiatrist, Dr. William D. Silkworth, that Jesus Christ, the Great Physician, could cure him of his alcoholism.
Was visited by his friend Ebby Thacher, who told Bill that he (Ebby) had “got religion”, had gone to the altar at Calvary Rescue Mission, and had made a decision for Christ.
Was told by Ebby that God had done for him what he could not do for himself.
Concluded that Ebby had been healed and reborn at Calvary Rescue Mission.
Visited Calvary Church, heard Ebby give testimony, decided that he needed the help Ebby had received, and that maybe Calvary Rescue Mission could help him also.
Went to the altar at Calvary Rescue Mission and made his own decision for Jesus Christ.
Wrote that he had been born again and had found religion.
Concluded that, in his dire straits, he then and there needed the help of the Great Physician
that Dr. Silkworth had recommended to Bill for help.
Proceeded (despairing, depressed, and drunk) to Towns Hospital for the fourth and last time.
Concluded he would call on the Great Physician; cried out to God for help; and had his
famous “white light” experience in which he sensed the presence of “the God of the Scriptures.”
Consulted with Dr. Silkworth; read the book, The Varieties of Religious Experiences, by
William James; and believed he had had a valid religious experience and had been cured.
Never again doubted the existence of God. Never drank again. And said the Lord had cured him of his terrible disease.
A.A. Number Two (Dr. Bob)
Received a Congregational Christian upbringing by his family, his church, his Sunday school, the Christian Endeavor Society, and the St. Johnsbury Academy in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.
After many intervening years of uncontrollable drinking, finally conceded at a meeting of a Christian group at the home of T. Henry Williams in Akron that he had a drinking problem and wanted to quit.
Knelt with group members at the home of T. Henry Williams and prayed for his deliverance.
Continued to drink but was miraculously put in touch with Bill W. in May of 1935.
Was persuaded by Bill’s story that the Lord had cured Bill, and that helping other alcoholics was a resource he (Dr. Bob) had never seized upon to maintain sobriety.
Had one last binge and decided to quit for good in June of 1935.
Concluded and announced that he and Bill W. had found a cure for alcoholism, and then sought, with Bill W., to help other alcoholics get sober by the same spiritual means.
Never drank again, and later wrote: “Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!”
The founding of A.A. in June 1935 was, by common agreement, fixed as being when Dr.
Bob had his last drink on what may have been June 10, 1935—both of the founders then
having attained what was proven to be permanent sobriety.
A.A. Number Three (Bill D. of Akron)
In 1935, was already a Christian, a deacon of his church, and a Sunday school teacher.
Had nonetheless been hospitalized many times as a “seemingly-hopeless,” “medically-incurable” drunk.
Was in Akron City Hospital when Dr. Bob phoned the hospital, said he and Bill W. had found a cure for alcoholism, needed to work with another drunk, and arranged to tell Bill D. their stories.
Was told by Dr. Bob and Bill W. that he could turn to God for healing and should then help others.
Did turn to God for help when Bob and Bill had left, found release, and was cured
Confirmed his cure by endorsing Bill W.’s statement that Bill W. (and he) had been cured by the Lord, and declaring that Bill W.’s statement (found in the current edition of the Big Book on page 191) was the “golden text of A.A.” for him and for others.
Became the third AA and caused Bill W. to declare that the first A.A. Group was founded the day Bill D. left the hospital a free man, never to drink again—July 4, 1935.
Each of the first three AAs believed in God. Each was or had become a Christian at the time the decision was made to stay sober permanently. Each turned to God, was cured, never drank again, and immediately began helping others.
A.A. was founded and the first group was founded at a time when there were no Twelve Steps. There were no Twelve Traditions. There was no basic text or Big Book. There were no drunkalogs. And there were no meetings as we know them today. The men had and studied the Bible, and the sought God’s help and received it. That was the power of God in earliest A.A.