Friday, May 30, 2014

A Thoroughly Documented Preview of our Forthcoming "Bill W., Dr. Bob, and the Cure of Alcoholism: The Rest of the Story" Video Class


“Bill W., Dr. Bob, and the Cure of Alcoholism:

The Rest of the Story”

 

By Dick B. and Ken B.

© 2014 by Anonymous. All rights reserved

 

 

The Basic Sources of A.A.’s Ideas and

the Vermont Factors in A.A.’s Beginnings

 

 

This video article—which enhances the video series titled “Bill W., Dr. Bob, and the Cure of Alcoholism: The Rest of the Story” class—will focus primarily on the substantial beginning of A.A.’s original ideas and techniques, most of which sprang out of A.A.’s roots in the State of Vermont, in which both of A.A.’s cofounders—Bill W. and Dr. Bob—were born and raised.

 

This video article will also show how some of the most important ideas about recovery from alcoholism by the power of God flowed directly from the experiences of:

 

·         A.A. cofounder Bill W.,

·         A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob,

·         Bill W.’s friend Ebby T., and

·         Rowland Hazard, Shepherd (Shep) Cornell, and Cebra Graves--friends of Ebby T.’s who were members of “A First Century Christian Fellowship” (later known as “the Oxford Group”).

 

And how those ideas about recovery from alcoholism by the power of God also flowed from:

 

·         Congregationalism in general, and Vermont Congregational churches and Vermont Congregational schools in particular;

·         Christian evangelists;

·         The Young Men’s Christian Association;

·         The Salvation Army;

·         The Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor; and

·         “A First Century Christian Fellowship,” later known as “the Oxford Group.”

 

In addition, this video article will highlight the incorporated belief A.A.’s  cofounders and a number of the other A.A. pioneers had in God, His Son Jesus Christ, the Bible, salvation, prayer meetings, Quiet Time, Christian literature, and healing. All of which played a role in the efforts to rescue the downcast and despondent drunks and derelicts of the mid-to-late 1800’s and the early 1900’s.

 

This video article will also present how, starting in 1990, Dick B. began and conducted his quest, subject by subject, and piece by piece, to learn as much as possible about, and the real spiritual roots of, the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

 

In addition, this video will discuss the immense influence that A.A. cofounder Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in New York, had on Bill’s Twelve Steps. Bill W. stated, for example:

 

The spiritual substance of our remaining ten Steps [i.e., Steps Two through Eleven] came straight from Dr. Bob’s and my own earlier association with the Oxford Groups, as they were then led in America by that Episcopal rector, Dr. Samuel Shoemaker.[1]

 

After changes were made to Bill’s original draft of the Twelve Steps, the Steps were included in the first edition of the Big Book published in April 1939.[2]

 

This video article will also make clear how so much of early A.A.’s simple program of reliance on the power and love of God closely resembled First Century Christianity. A number of outside observers of early Alcoholics Anonymous made comments to this effect. Albert Scott, for example—who chaired an important early meeting with AAs in New York in late 1937—said:

 

I am deeply moved by what I have heard. I can see that your work, thus far, has been one of great goodwill—one alcoholic personally helping another for the love of the thing. That is first century Christianity in a beautiful form.[3]

 

John D. Rockefeller, Jr., his son Nelson, and Frank Amos (an associate of John D.’s), also made similar comments.[4]

 

In addition, this video article will show how the early Akron A.A. pioneers drew on the Bible for almost all the basic ideas which were incorporated in the original, astonishingly-successful, Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship.”[5] As A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob explained in his last major address to AAs in 1948 “In early A.A. days, . . . our stories didn’t amount to anything to speak of.”[6] He went on to state: “We had no Twelve Steps, either; we had no Traditions.”[7] Dr. Bob continued:

 

But we were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book. To some of us older ones, the parts that we found absolutely essential were the Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 5-7], the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, and the Book of James.[8]

 

And he added:

 

It wasn’t until 1938 that the teachings and efforts and studies that had been going on were crystallized in the form of the Twelve Steps. I didn’t write the Twelve Steps. I had nothing to do with the writing of them. . . . We already had the basic ideas, though not in terse and tangible form. We got them, as I said, as a result of our study of the Good Book.[9]

 

We will have much to say throughout this video series about the significance of Dr. Bob’s comment above that he and Bill, originally, “were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book.”

 

This video article will also show, however, that A.A. cofounder Bill W. had, or soon developed, a much different viewpoint than that of Dr. Bob’s as to the sources of what were to become the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill believed that basic ideas of the Twelve Steps, albeit subject to considerable disagreement, were the product of emphasis by Akron and Bill himself on the Oxford Groups’ so-called “Four Absolutes”—honesty, purity, unselfishness, and love.[10] But Bill also discussed what he called the “medical sledgehammer” provided to him by Dr. William D. Silkworth—the sledgehammer that drunks needed to be hit with when they were told how fatal their malady was.[11] Bill believed Silkworth had provided a missing link in the form of a concept Silkworth had been proclaiming for years. According to Bill, Dr. Silkworth had been saying that alcoholism was an illness, an obsession of the mind that condemned alcoholics to drink, coupled with an allergy of the body that condemned them to die.[12] And Bill stated that Silkworth had told Bill that, as a doctor, he (Dr. Silkworth) had not succeeded in convincing the alcoholics of their life-threatening dangers, but that he believed another alcoholic might be able to penetrate where he, Silkworth, could not and that the fellow-alcoholic could convincingly give them the bad news.[13]

 

Bill W. later expanded his viewpoint. He said that, whatever its origins, “the new version of the program, now the ‘Twelve Steps’”—presented to the world in the Big Book published in April 1939--could definitely be characterized in this way: “AA is truly God’s creation.”[14] Bill also said:

 

AAs are always asking: “Where did the Twelve Steps come from?” In the last analysis, perhaps nobody knows. Yet some of the events which led to their formulation are as clear to me as though they took place yesterday.

So far as people were concerned, the main channels of inspiration for our Steps were three in number--the Oxford Groups, Dr. William D. Silkworth of Towns Hospital, and the famed psychologist William James, called by some the father of modern psychology.[15]

 

Although his language varied, Bill said many times that the basic ideas for the 12 Steps came from three men: (1) Dr. William D. Silkworth; (2) Professor William James; and (3) Dr. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr.

 

1.      Dr. William D. Silkworth and Step One. Bill W. called Dr. William D. Silkworth “a man who was very much a founder of A.A.”[16] Said Bill: “The priceless piece of information on which the effectiveness of Step One of our program so much depends . . . came from my own doctor . . . William Duncan Silkworth.[17]

 

2.      Professor William James and Step Twelve. Bill W. called Professor William James “a founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.”[18] Bill said that, while Silkworth explained what the disease of alcoholism was, “we have since found that these awful conditions of mind and body invariably bring on the third phase of our malady. This is the sickness of the spirit; a sickness for which there must necessarily be a spiritual remedy. We AAs recognize this in the first five words of Step Twelve of the recovery program. Those words are: ‘Having had a spiritual awakening . . .’ Here we name the remedy for our threefold sickness of body, mind, and soul. Here we declare the necessity for that all important spiritual awakening.”[19] Bill claimed that there was this utter necessity for such an awakening—an experience that not only expels the alcohol obsession, but which also makes effective and truly real the practice of spiritual principles ‘in all our affairs.’”[20] Bill also stated: “Thus did he [Professor James] reinforce Step One [the necessity for hitting bottom] and so did he supply us with the spiritual essence of today’s Step Twelve.”[21]

 

3.      Dr. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., and Steps Two through Eleven. Bill W. called Dr. Shoemaker a “co-founder” of A.A.[22] Shoemaker was Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in New York, and a chief lieutenant of the Oxford Group in America. Bill had asked: “Where did the early AAs find the material for the remaining ten Steps?” Bill’s answer was: “The spiritual substance of our remaining ten Steps came straight from Dr. Bob’s and my own earlier association with the Oxford Groups as they were then led in America by that Episcopal rector, Dr. Samuel Shoemaker.”[23] Bill discussed his “new version of the program,” the “Twelve Steps,” with Shoemaker in Shoemaker’s book-lined library at Calvary House.[24] Bill W. had even asked Shoemaker to write the Twelve Steps—though Shoemaker declined.[25]

 

And as we consider Bill W.’s Twelve Steps, let’s ask again: “What is the rest of the story?” The answer in large part comes from Dr. Bob’s statement about the Twelve Steps that we quoted above. Leaving out editorial opinion, the facts Dr. Bob related are these:

 

1.      He [Dr. Bob] didn’t write the Twelve Steps;

2.      He had nothing to do with the writing of them;

3.      “It wasn’t until 1938 that the teachings and efforts and studies that had been going on [since 1935] were crystallized in the form of the Twelve Steps;” and

4.      The basic ideas of the Twelve Steps came from the Bible.[26]

 

There is more to the answer. The heart of Bill W.’s “new version of the program”—i.e., A.A.’s “solution” to the problem of alcoholism—was set forth in the chapter titled “There Is a Solution” in the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous:

 

There is a solution. . . .

            The great fact is just this and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences, which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows, and toward God’s universe. The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.[27] (italics in original)

 

A.A.’s “solution” is presented in terms of a “spiritual experience.” This experience was originally called by Professor William James, Dr. Carl Jung, and Rev. Samuel Shoemaker a “vital religious experience.” An experience in which the Creator entered into the hearts and lives of AAs in a miraculous way and did for them what they could not do for themselves.[28] These being the facts, one might ask: Where does the definition of the “solution” as a “vital religious experience” appear in Bill’s “new version of the program” which attributes the “spiritual substance” of Bill’s Twelve Steps to the three men discussed above; i.e.: (1) Dr. Silkworth; (2) Professor William James; and (3) Dr. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr.?

 

And there are other questions: (1) Is it a “spiritual awakening” that expels the malady of alcoholism and inspires the practice of spiritual principles? (2) Is it a “spiritual experience?”  (3) Is it a “vital religious experience?” (4) Is it the Creator?  (5) Is it Jesus Christ [as Silkworth had suggested to Bill]? (6) Is it the power of the Holy Spirit for those early AAs who were required to profess belief in God and become born again just as Rowland, Ebby, and Bill had done before being delivered from alcoholism? Or (7) Is it at all possible that some self-made “higher power” did the expelling and inspiring—at best, some nonsense “higher power” that can be a group, a light bulb, a radiator, a door knob, or “nothing at all?”[29]

 

On a number of occasions, Bill W. discussed how his “new version of the program, . . . the ‘Twelve Steps,’” came into being. In doing so, he usually stated or implied that the Twelve Steps evolved out of six predecessor “principles” or “steps.” For example, in a talk Bill gave on April 28, 1958, at the New York City Medical Society on Alcoholism, he spoke of six “principles . . . [his old school friend from Burr and Burton Seminary, Ebby T.] had learned from the Oxford Group,” and which, Bill said, Ebby had shared with him in November 1934:

 

He [Ebby] came to my house one day in November, 1934, and sat across the kitchen table from me while I drank. No thanks, he didn’t want any liquor, he said. Much surprised, I asked what had got into him. Looking straight at me, he said he had “got religion.” . . . As politely as possible, I asked what brand of religion he had.

            Then he told me of his conversations with Mr. R., and how hopeless alcoholism really was, according to Dr. Carl Jung. . . . Next Ebby enumerated the principles he had learned from the Oxford Group. In substance here they are as my friend applied them to himself in 1934:

 

1.      Ebby admitted that he was powerless to manage his own life.

2.      He became honest with himself as never before; made an “examination of conscience.”

3.      He made a rigorous confession of his personal defects and thus quit living alone with his problems.

4.      He surveyed his distorted relations with other people, visiting them to make what amends he could.

5.      He resolved to devote himself to helping others in need, without the usual demands for personal prestige or material gain.

6.      By meditation, he sought God’s direction for his life and to help to practice these principles of conduct at all times.[30] (emphasis added)

 

And Bill added later in the same talk:

 

By the spring of 1939, our Society had produced a book which was called “Alcoholics Anonymous.” In this volume, our methods were carefully described. For the sake of greater clarity and thoroughness, the word-of-mouth program which my friend Ebby had given to me was enlarged into what we now call A.A.’s “Twelve Suggested Steps for recovery.” . . . This was the backbone of our book. To substantiate A.A. methods, our book included twenty-eight case histories.[31] (emphasis added)

 

Note that Bill stated in Ebby’s sixth “principle” listed above that Ebby had “sought God’s direction”—not the direction of “a Power greater than ourselves;”[32] not the direction of “God as we understood Him;”[33] and not the direction of “a Higher Power.”[34] And Bill claimed that “. . . the word-of-mouth program which my friend Ebby had given to me was enlarged into . . . A.A.’s ‘Twelve Suggested Steps for recovery.’”

 

In September 1954, several years prior to his having given his talk at the New York City Medical Society on Alcoholism, Bill had made a series of audio recordings about his life. Transcripts made of those recordings were later published as his “autobiography.”[35] In the audio recordings, Bill stated that Ebby had also come to see him during his (Bill’s) fourth and final stay at Towns Hospital December 11-18, 1934.[36] And Bill said that during Ebby’s visit: 

 

. . . [Ebby] began to repeat his pat little formula for getting over drinking. Briefly and without ado he did so. Again he told

 

[1] how he found he couldn’t run his own life,

[2] how he got honest with himself as never before.

[3] How he’d been making amends to the people he’d damaged.

[4] How he’d been trying to give of himself without putting a price tag on his efforts, and finally

[5] how he’d tried prayer just as an experiment and had found to his surprise that it worked.[37]

 

When Bill gave his talk at the New York City Medical Society on Alcoholism in 1958, he listed six “principles” which he said Ebby “had learned from the Oxford Group” and had shared with him in November 1934 at Bill’s home on 182 Clinton Street in New York. Yet when Bill made the audio recordings in 1954 which eventually became his “autobiography,” he only listed five items which Ebby had shared with him when he (Ebby) repeated his “pat little formula for getting over drinking” during Ebby’s visit to Towns Hospital to see Bill in December 1934. And the wording of the items in these two lists of “principles”/points varied significantly. In particular, as we focus in this series of videos on the cure for alcoholism through the power and love of God that A.A.’s cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob found, let’s be sure to observe differences in wording such as the complete omission of the word “God” from the five-item December 1934 list. The closest Bill gets to the word “God” in the five-item list is to mention that Ebby had “tried prayer . . . and . . . it worked.” That statement certainly seems weak in comparison with the following assertion by Bill in his own personal story in the Big Book:

 

. . . [M]y friend [Ebby] sat before me, and he made the point-blank declaration that God had done for him what he could not do for himself. His human will had failed. Doctors had pronounced him incurable.[38] (emphasis added)

 

As we will see again repeatedly as we continue to examine various lists of five(!) or six points/”principles”/”steps” which Bill claimed over the years were the direct antecedents of the “Twelve Steps” in the Big Book, the wording of the five or six items did not agree from one list to another—particularly when it came to mentions of God.

 

Note that both in his talk to the New York Medical Society in which Bill listed the six “principles” that Ebby “had learned from the Oxford Group” and in Bill’s presentation of his late-November 1934 meeting with Ebby in the chapter titled “Bill’s Story” in the Big Book, Bill indicated that Ebby had used the unmodified word “God” in identifying the source of his (Ebby’s) deliverance from alcoholism. As Bill put it in his (Bill’s) story in the Big Book as he reviewed Ebby’s visit to Bill’s home:

 

Thus was I convinced that God is concerned with us humans when we want Him enough. At long last I saw, I felt, I believed. Scales of pride and prejudice fell from my eyes. A new world came into view.[39] (emphasis added)

 

In other discussions of the six “principles” or “steps” that Bill claimed were in use before he wrote the Twelve Steps, Bill began to speak of an evolution of a “word-of-mouth program” involving “six steps,” rather than stating or implying that Ebby had given Bill the “six principles” or “steps” in late-November 1934 that led directly to the Twelve Steps Bill wrote in 1938. For example, Bill stated:

 

Since Ebby’s visit to me in the fall of 1934 we had gradually evolved what we called “the word-of-mouth program.” Most of the basic ideas had come from the Oxford Groups, William James, and Dr. Silkworth. Though subject to considerable variation, it all boiled down into a pretty consistent procedure which comprised six steps.[40]

 

After listing “six steps” which varied in wording from the six “principles” Bill had said Ebby had given Bill at the late-November 1934 meeting at 182 Clinton Street, Bill said: “This was the substance of what, by the fall of 1938, we were telling newcomers.”[41]

 

In a 1963 letter to Rev. Sam Shoemaker, Bill put even more distance between Ebby’s discussions with him (Bill) in late 1934 and the “word-of-mouth program of six steps.” Bill wrote to Sam:

 

After the alcoholics parted company with the O.G. [= Oxford Group] here in New York, we developed a word-of-mouth program of six steps which was simply a paraphrase of what we had heard and felt at your meetings.[42] The Twelve Steps of A.A. simply represented an attempt to state in more detail, breadth and depth, what we had been taught—primarily by you.[43] (emphasis added)

 

At least two challenges arise when one studies Bill’s “six steps” of “the so-called word-of-mouth program of our pioneering time”[44] which Bill said evolved into “the new version of the program, now the ‘Twelve Steps.’” First, Bill stated:

 

. . . [T]hese principles were advocated according to the whim or liking of each of us, . . .[45]

 

And along those lines, he also said: (1) “‘the word-of-mouth program’” was “subject to considerable variation;” and (2) the “six steps . . . were approximately as follows: . . .”[46] In addition, and more importantly for our presentation of “the rest of the story,” Bill seemingly treated the word “God” in the supposed “sixth step” of “the word-of-mouth program” differently according to the view he was advocating or sanctioning at a particular time. For example, here is Bill’s discussion in a July 1953 article in the A.A. Grapevine:

 

During the next three years after Dr. Bob’s recovery [in June 1935], our growing groups at Akron, New York, and Cleveland evolved the so-called word-of-mouth program of our pioneering time. As we commenced to form a Society separate from the Oxford Group, we began to state our principles something like this:

 

1.      We admitted we were powerless over alcohol.

2.      We got honest with ourselves.

3.      We got honest with another person, in confidence.

4.      We made amends for harms done others.

5.      We worked with other alcoholics without demand for prestige or money.

6.      We prayed to God to help us do these things as best we could.[47]

 

Aside from significant historical inconsistencies in Bill’s statement immediately above,[48] we see that here, in “principle” number six, Bill uses the unmodified word “God”—i.e., “We prayed to God . . .” Bill’s use of the unmodified word “God” here without any modifying words is similar to use of the word “God” in item number two of the seven points of Frank Amos’s summary of the Akron program as of February 1938:

 

“2. He [an alcoholic] must surrender himself absolutely to God, realizing that in himself there is no hope.”[49]

 

When, however, Bill was penning the Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age story in 1957, he wrote:

 

            Since Ebby’s visit to me in the fall of 1934 we had gradually evolved what we called “the word-of-mouth program.” Most of the basic ideas had come from the Oxford Groups, William James, and Dr. Silkworth. Though subject to considerable variation, it all boiled down into a pretty consistent procedure which comprised six steps. These were approximately as follows:

 

1.      We admitted that we were licked, that we were powerless over alcohol.

2.      We made a moral inventory of our defects or sins.

3.      We confessed or shared our shortcomings with another person in confidence.

4.      We made restitution to all those we had harmed by our drinking.

5.      We tried to help other alcoholics, with no thought of reward in money or prestige.

6.      We prayed to whatever God we thought there was for power to practice these precepts.”[50]

 

In this example, rather than stating simply that “We prayed to God for power . . .”—i.e., using the word “God” without modifying words, Bill added the words “. . . whatever . . . we thought there was.” That was a significant change in wording.

 

When Bill wrote out the “six steps” for a man named Ed in April 1953, he used still different language for the six “step”:

 

1.      Admitted hopeless.

2.      Got honest with self.

3.      God honest with another.

4.      Made amends.

5.      Helped others without demand.

6.      Prayed to God as you understand Him.”[51]

 

In the example immediately above, Bill chose to add the modifying words “as you understand Him” after the word “God,” using in this version of the “sixth step” language that resembled how Steps Three and Eleven read in the Big Book; i.e., “. . . God as we understood Him.”[52]

 

And now we turn to the personal story of one of Dr. Bob’s sponsees, Earl T. of Chicago, a man who got sober in April 1937.[53] Earl’s personal story, titled “He Sold Himself Short,” first appeared in the Big Book’s second edition published in 1955.[54] The writer of the story titled “He Sold Himself Short” claims that he and Dr. Bob “spent three or four hours formally going through the Six-Step program as it was at that time.”[55] And the writer then gives the following list of “the six steps”:

 

1.      Complete deflation.

2.      Dependence and guidance from a Higher Power.

3.      Moral inventory.

4.      Confession.

5.      Restitution.

6.      Continued work with other alcoholics.[56]

 

This assertion that Dr. Bob took Earl T. through “the Six-Step program as it was at that time,” and the wording and the order of these supposed “six steps,” raise questions. First, some of the language is simply not that usually employed by Dr. Bob. For example, the alleged first “Step” reads: “Complete deflation.” It was Bill W., rather than Dr. Bob, who often used the word “deflation.”[57] In contrast, DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers says of Dr. Bob: “Another thing Dr. Bob put quite simply: ‘The first one will get you.’ According to John R., he kept repeating that.”[58] More significantly for our discussion here, I (Dick B.) have not found a single example of Dr. Bob’s ever referring to a “higher power” (as in the second “Step” above) other than this supposed use of the term in this personal story. Actually, his usual language in referring to God was “Heavenly Father”[59] or “God”[60] or “the Lord.”[61] Whether Earl T. actually made the statement about “the Six-Step program” or gave the list of “the six steps” as found in the “He Sold Himself Short” personal story, we do not know.[62]

 

But these points seem clear from the “He Sold Himself Short” story and from what Earl T.’s wife Katie disclosed in a lengthy interview in 1985.[63] The Big Book indicated that Dr. Bob had covered a good many A.A. ideas with Earl, in addition to the quoted six specifics. The interview with Earl’s wife had these things to say:

 

·         The men were desperate and took the program as presented.

·         She said: “There was no book, no pamphlets, no nothing, and the only way you could get it was through passing it on verbally to the next fellow.”

·         She said she felt the Oxford Group people had the same ideas and principles as AA now has—they helped others. However they never coped with alcoholism.

·         Earl was a nervous wreck and didn’t know what to do or talk about. He said they had better pattern themselves after the Oxford Group, and they had used the Bible. When they met, they picked out a chapter, and it was read. Then they discussed it.

·         The next thing they decided upon was a quiet time. 

·         The alcoholic was asked to offer a prayer, ask for guidance, and at night when he came home to review what had happened to him, and also to offer a prayer of thankfulness

·         The alcoholic was to rise an hour before his usual time and get things straightened out and in order before he started out.

·         Both Dr. Bob and Anne were frequently seen by Earl and his wife; and Bill W. often stayed in the home of Earl and his wife.

·         Neither Earl nor his wife is quoted as making mention of any Steps; and Earl did not die until he had a stroke in his 90’s.[64]

 

Now before we move on to the Twelve Steps specifically, we also want to mention here what Bill’s wife Lois called “the Oxford Group precepts . . . in substance”—which happened to be six in number:

 

[1.] [S]urrender your life to God;

[2.] [T]ake a moral inventory;

[3.] [C]onfess your sins to God and another human being;

[4.] [M]ake a restitution;

[5.] [G]ive of yourself to others with no demand for return; [and]

[6.] [P]ray to God for help to carry out these principles.[65]

 

Two quick points about the preceding list of six so-called “Oxford Group precepts”: (a) Footnote 2 on 197 of ‘PASS IT ON’ (given near the bottom of page 206) points out that there were no “six steps of the Oxford Group.” (b) Note the use of the word “God” without modifying words in “precepts” one, three, and six.

 

Throughout this video series on “Bill W., Dr. Bob, and the Cure of Alcoholism: The Rest of the Story,” we will be focusing on the roles played by God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in early A.A.’s astonishing successes with “seemingly-hopeless,” “medically-incurable,” “last-gasp-case,” “real” alcoholics who thoroughly followed the early A.A. path. Consequently, as we now discuss in more detail Bill’s writing of “the new version of the program, . . . the ‘Twelve Steps,’” we want to highlight two points: (1) Dr. Bob’s statement that “in the early days . . . we [i.e., A.A. cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob] were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book;”[66] and (2) the move away from Bill W.’s use of the unmodified word “God” in the original draft of the Twelve Steps.

 

Bill said that “by the fall of 1938,” there was “a pretty consistent procedure which comprised six steps” that was what “we were telling newcomers.”[67] He added that it was because “the program was still not definite enough” that he “set out to draft more than six steps; . . .”[68] Bill also said that, when he had “completed the first draft,” the result was “the new version of the program, now the ‘Twelve Steps.’”[69] 

 

The A.A. General Service Conference-approved book ‘PASS IT ON’ states:

 

The very first draft of the Twelve Steps, as Bill wrote them . . . has been lost. This is an approximate reconstruction of the way he first set them down:

 

“. . .

 

“2. Came to believe that God could restore us to sanity.

 

“3. Made a decision to turn our wills and our lives over to the care and direction of God.

 

. . .

 

“11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

 

. . .”[70]

 

The reconstructions of Steps Two, Three, and Eleven above, in which the word “God” occurs without modifying words agrees with Step writer Bill W.’s statement in the A.A. General Service Conference-approved book Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age:

 

All this time I had refused to budge on these steps. I would not change a word of the original draft, in which, you will remember, I had consistently used the word “God,” . . .[71]

 

When Bill wrote the original draft of the Twelve Steps in the fall of 1938[72] for the Big Book’s chapter five, “How It Works,” his use of the unmodified word “God” in Steps Two, Three, Five, Six, and Eleven—together with the use of capitalized pronouns referring to God in Steps Seven and Eleven (i.e., “Him” in Step Seven and “His” in Step Eleven)—was consistent with:

 

1.      The message Bill’s “spiritual sponsor” and friend Ebby T. had carried to him in late November 1934; i.e., “. . . God had done for him [Ebby] what he could not do for himself”;[73]

2.      Dr. Bob’s standard approach with newcomers; i.e., “. . . [Dr. Bob] asked, ‘Do you believe in God, young fella?’ . . . ‘Either you do or you don’t.’”[74] and

3.      One of the basic requirements of the early Akron A.A. program; i.e., “‘He [an alcoholic] must surrender himself absolutely to God, realizing that in himself there is no hope.’”[75]

 

But in New York, the first two men with whom Bill shared “the new version of the program, now the ‘Twelve Steps,’” “reacted violently.”[76] They stated:

 

. . . “You’ve got too much God in these steps; . . .”[77]

 

How strange! Particularly in the light of what Bill had already written back in March or April of 1938 in the chapter titled “There Is a Solution”[78]:

 

There is a solution. . . .

. . . The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.[79] (italics in original)

 

So now we come to the great compromise: the last-minute changes made in the wording of Steps Two, Three, and Eleven just before the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous was published in April 1939.[80] A group of four people—Bill W., Bill’s business partner Hank P. (an alcoholic), Bill’s friend Fitz M. (an alcoholic), and Hank’s secretary Ruth Hock—while meeting in Hank’s office in Newark, New Jersey—decided to change the entire tone of the about-to-be published Big Book.[81] One of the four in the office, Fitz M., “wanted a fairly religious book infused with some of the dogma we had picked up from the churches and missions which had tried to help us.”[82] And Bill himself had written:

 

. . . I cannot help but report what priests and ministers have done for many of us, personally. . . .

. . . I finally awoke to the probability that there might be sources of spiritual teaching, wisdom, and assurance outside of AA. I recalled that preacher Sam [Shoemaker] probably had a lot to do with the vital spiritual experience that was my first gift of faith.

. . .

. . . [I]t is with the deepest feeling that I here cast up AA’s debt to the clergy: without their works for us, AA could never have been born; nearly every principle that we use came from them. . . . Almost literally, we AAs owe them our lives, our fortunes, and such salvation as each of us has found.

Surely, this is an infinite debt![83]

 

The historical record shows that many observers and AAs themselves likened the early A.A. program to First Century Christianity.[84] And such a fellowship was certainly not premised on atheism, agnosticism, or anything but Christianity.[85] Hence the following strong feelings uttered by Fitz M. were based on A.A.’s own Christian roots in the Bible. Bill wrote:

 

Fitz M., the Episcopal minister’s son from Maryland and the second man to recover at Towns Hospital, made constant journeys to New York in order to reinforce the conservative position. Fitz thought that the book ought to be Christian in the doctrinal sense of the word and that it should say so. He was in favor of using Biblical terms and expressions to make this clear. Another early New York A.A., Paul K., was even more emphatic about this.[86]

 

About that time there appeared on the New York scene another character, Fitz M., one of the most lovable people that A.A. will ever know. Fitz was a minister’s son and deeply religious, an aspect of his nature which is revealed in his story entitled “Our Southern Friend” in the Big Book. Fitz fell at once into hot argument with Henry [P.—another of the four] about the religious content of the coming volume. A newcomer named Jimmy B., who like Henry was an ex-salesman and former atheist, also got into the hassles. Fitz wanted a powerfully religious document: Henry and Jimmy would have none of it. They wanted a psychological book which would lure the reader in; when he finally arrived among us, there would be enough time to tip him off about the spiritual character of our society. . . . Fitz made trip after trip to New York from his Maryland home to insist or raising the spiritual pitch of the A.A. book. Out of this debate came the spiritual form and substance of the document, notably the expression “God as we understood Him.” . . . As umpire of these disputes, I was obliged to go pretty much down the middle, writing in spiritual rather than religious or entirely psychological terms.[87]

 

Just before the manuscript was finished an event of great significance for our future took place. At the time it looked like just another battle over the book. The scene was Henry’s office in Newark, where most of the writing had been done. Present were Fitz, Henry, our grand little secretary Ruth, and myself. We were still arguing about the Twelve Steps. All this time I [Bill W.] had refused to budge on these steps. I would not change a word of the original draft, in which, you will remember, I had consistently used the word “God,” . . . [Henry] argued, he begged, he threatened. He quoted Jimmy [B.] to back him up. . . . Though at first I would have none of it, we finally began to talk about the possibility of compromise. . . . In Step Two we decided to describe God as a “Power greater than ourselves.” In Steps Three and Eleven we inserted the words “God as we understood Him.” . . .

Such were the final concessions to those of little or no faith; this was the great contribution of our atheists and agnostics. They had widened our gateway so that all who suffer might pass through, regardless of their belief or lack of belief.[88]

igher PowerP

 

 

 

 

 

The Scope and Purpose of

This A.A. History Project, Our Videos, and the Accompanying Study Guide

 

·         My (Dick B.’s) quest for A.A.’s early history and biblical roots begins with what we call the story of John. And we will relate it to you shortly.

 

·         But that beginning soon encountered detours—the labored discussions of the Washingtonians, the Emanuel Movement, and A.A.’s alleged Oxford Group origins. The focus on these elements—extraneous to the healing of alcoholism by the power of God grounded on countless biblical accounts of healings—diverted the recovery community from learning and detailing A.A.’s Christian origins.

 

The Importance of Vermont as a Starting Point for the Bill Wilson Portion of the Story[89]

 

·         Bill’s paternal grandfather, William C. (“Willie”) Wilson, died on July 1, 1885, more than 10 years before William Griffith (“Bill”) Wilson was born on November 26, 1895.[90] Willie had lived in the Wilson House in East Dorset, Vermont—where Bill Wilson was born. Grandpa Willie was a pillar of the East Dorset Congregational Church, which was adjacent to Willie’s home. But Willie had a long and serious drinking problem. Then, one day, he climbed to the top of nearby Mount Aeolus, saw a blinding light, felt the breeze of the Spirit, was converted, was cured of the liquor problem, rushed down to the church, told of his salvation, and never drank again for the rest of his life. And his grandson Bill heard this story over and over from his mother.[91]

 

·         There was an unusual influence on Alcoholics Anonymous roots and ideas by Edwin Throckmorton Thacher (“Ebby”)—Bill’s “sponsor.”[92]

 

There were five generations of clergy among Ebby’s ancestors.[93] His family had connections with the Episcopalian Church, the Presbyterian Church, and the First Reformed Church.[94]  And Ebby spoke plainly about his Christian upbringing as a child.[95]

 

The Thacher summer home in Manchester, Vermont, was adjacent to the summer home of Lois Burnham’s family and quite near their summer cottages at Emerald Lake, Vermont.[96] The Thacher and Burnham cottages at Emerald Lake were even closer to the family residences of the Wilsons and the Griffiths (Bill’s paternal and maternal grandparents) in East Dorset, Vermont.[97]

 

Ebby first met Bill W. through Bill’s boyhood friend Mark Whalon.[98] Apparently, it was around 1911 in Manchester where Bill had become known as a leading pitcher on a local baseball team.[99] And Ebby attended Burr and Burton Seminary in Manchester, Vermont, during Bill’s senior year there in 1912-1913.[100] While Ebby attended Burr and Burton, he boarded at the home of Rev. Sidney K. Perkins, the minister at Manchester Congregational Church.[101] But during the halcyonic young love years Bill had with Bertha Bamford at Burr and Burton Seminary, a tragic event occurred. It was the surprising death of Bertha Bamford—Bill’s high school love.[102] Bertha died from postsurgical hemorrhaging after surgery in New York in November 18, 1912.[103] Bill fell into a devastating depression that lasted three years and included anxiety attacks as well. Bill was forced to withdraw from Burr and Burton Seminary.[104] Bill blamed God for the whole death scene and turned his back on God. As one biographer put it, “Bertha’s death erased any vestiges he might have had of belief in God or any other supreme being.”[105]

 

Ebby was so concerned about Bill’s depressed state and misery at Burr and Burton Seminary that he could not leave Bill’s side. Bill was very grateful for Ebby’s concern and support. Lois Wilson’s biographer attributed to Lois the statement: “That made them practically blood brothers.”[106]

 

‘PASS IT ON’ notes that Ebby and Bill first drank together in early 1929 when Bill got off the train in Albany, New York, to see Ebby while Bill was on a trip to Manchester.[107] And it quotes Ebby as follows:

 

“I saw a lot of Bill. We met and were firm friends from the beginning.”[108]

 

It was during this 1929 visit that Ebby chartered a plane to take him and Bill and a pilot from Albany up to the new landing field in Manchester—where the plane crash-landed, as the pilot was drunk, as were Bill and Ebby.[109]

 

In 1934, Ebby’s drinking brought him to the point of potential incarceration for inebriety.[110] But the unusual influence of Vermont on both Ebby and later on Ebby and Bill continued.

 

·         There was the very special influence on Ebby (an ultimately Bill) of three fellow-drinkers who had become involved with “A First Century Christian Fellowship” (also known as “the Oxford Group”) in Vermont.[111] All three men played a major role in A.A.’s beginnings. All three Vermonters decided to do “some missionary work” with Ebby Thacher.[112] They resolved to help deliver him from his pending incarceration and from his drinking problem.[113]

 

First, there was Oxford Group member Cebra Graves. Cebra was a young attorney who lived in Bennington, Vermont. His father, Judge Collins Graves, was the magistrate there. Judge Graves also adjudicated Ebby’s inebriety case, putting Ebby on “parole” in the hands of Oxford Group member Rowland Hazard. [114] Cebra became a Lt. Commander in the navy in World War II and obtained a master’s degree at Columbia University. As a member of A.A., he remained sober until his death at age eighty.[115]

 

Next, there was F. Shepard (“Shep”) Cornell who had been a successful New York stockbroker, later became a Colonel in World War II, and later still a successful corporate executive.[116] Shep was a personal friend of Rowland Hazard’s.[117] He was a Vermonter.[118] He summered in Manchester.[119]

 

Ebby had known Cebra and Shep for years; and these two Oxford Groupers were the first to call on Ebby. These two told Ebby that they had run into the Oxford Group and had gotten some pretty sensible things out of it based on the life of Christ and biblical times. Ebby said he was very much impressed because “it was what I had been taught as a child and what I inwardly believed, but had lain aside.”[120] The friends said: Why don’t you try turning your life over to God.[121]

 

The third Oxford Group messenger was Rowland Hazard. Historian Mel B. claims “While Cebra, Shep, and Rowland all had a role in bringing Ebby into the Oxford Group, it was Rowland who gave Ebby more personal assistance and actually provided what AA members would call sponsorship.”[122] Rowland was a Yale graduate and member of an old Rhode Island family. He also served as a Captain in the US Army Chemical Warfare Service in World War I.[123] Recent evidence suggests that Rowland sought treatment for alcoholism from the eminent Swiss psychiatrist, Dr. Carl Gustav Jung. The date was apparently 1926, not 1931 as has been reported. The treatment failed, and Dr. Jung told Rowland his only hope might be a vital religious experience.[124]

 

Rowland had been raised in a family of religious leaders, and held office in a church.[125] And this was the backdrop when Rowland began investigating the Oxford Group. Oxford Group employee and historian T. Willard Hunter wrote that Rowland:

 

. . . then found the Oxford Group, active at the time in Switzerland as well as the United States. In that fellowship he found an experience that transformed his life. He never took another drink. Anxious to spread the good news, he reached an old drinking buddy, Ebby Thatcher [sic]. Ebby also found sobriety through this new approach. He made a decision for Christ at a mission connected with Calvary Church in Manhattan, and surrendered his life to God.”[126]

 

Historian Jay Stinnett has reported: “1932 New York. Rowland returns and joins the Calvary Church, studies with . . . Rev. Sam Shoemaker and gives his life to Christ. His obsession to drink is removed.[127]

 

Rowland showed up at court for Ebby’s hearing on the drunkenness issue. Rowland had only met Ebby shortly before. He was present when Judge Collins Graves gave Ebby a lecture and asked Rowland if he would assist Ebby. Rowland said he would be responsible for Ebby, and the judge released Ebby in his custody.[128]

 

In 1929, Rowland Hazard began buying land in Glastenbury (his Vermont acreage). He finally accumulated 322 acres with a cabin, house, and outbuildings.[129] Rowland took Ebby on trips around New England, and Ebby helped pass along the Oxford Group message. Before the two even had their morning coffee, they sought God’s guidance for the day. And Rowland impressed upon Ebby the importance of the Four Absolutes (honesty, purity, unselfishness, and love)—particularly honesty with God. Ebby said that Rowland followed these principles himself and thereby, by example, made Ebby believe them again “as I had as a young man.”[130]

 

Ebby listened and learned, believing this was his only escape hatch. He shared his sins in detail. He braced himself to make restitution to those he’d hurt. He participated in the long quiet times. And he actually tried to pray. He began to feel better—a lot better.[131]

 

Finally, Cebra and Shep brought Ebby to New York. They lodged him in Calvary Mission. Ebby began to attend meetings at Calvary House and the body of the Calvary Church where Reverend Sam Shoemaker and scores of Oxford Groupers were holding forth.[132]

 

The precepts of “A First Century Christian Fellowship” and what the trio passed along to Ebby were those of Christ, the Bible, and prayer (with which Ebby was familiar and believed). Shortly, Ebby would be talking to Bill face-to-face on how he had been hopeless; how he had gotten honest about himself and his defects, how he’d been making restitution where it was owed, and how he had tried to practice a brand of giving that demanded no return for itself. He touched upon the subject of prayer and God. He discussed with Bill: “realizing you are licked, admitting it, and being willing to turn your life over to God.”[133]

 

Ebby made it clear that, when in distress, he had tried prayer, even experimentally, and the result had been immediate. He had been released from the desire to drink. And he had found peace and happiness. Lodged in Calvary Mission, Ebby made his “surrender,” accepting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, at Calvary Mission on November 1, 1934.[134]

 

Less than a month later, around the end of November 1934, Ebby visited Bill W. at the house in which he and Lois were living at his 182 Clinton Street.[135] What Ebby told Bill stuck. The good of it, said Bill, stuck so well that in no waking moment thereafter could he get that man and his message out of his own head.[136]

 

·         After Bertha’s death, Bill W. had divested himself of, and shelved, many many Christian ideas and experiences that had flowed through his life up to that time.

 

These included what he had learned: about his paternal grandfather Willie Wilson’s conversion and cure;[137] the surroundings in his home life in East Dorset;[138]  East Dorset Congregational Church and Sunday school;[139] Sunday school teachings;[140] writing pledges in the family Bible;[141] Manchester Congregational Church;[142] Burr and Burton Seminary daily chapel;[143] Christian songs;[144] Bible reading by Bill and his grandfather Griffith;[145] sermons;[146] the reading of Scripture;[147] prayers;[148] hymns;[149] altar calls;[150] church recital of confession and creed;[151] old-time temperance pledges;[152] conversions;[153] tent revivals;[154] temperance meetings;[155] Bill’s required four-year Bible study at Burr and Burton Seminary;[156] and the principles and practices of the Young Men’s Christian Association.[157]—things that he had experienced.

 

By the time of Bill W.’s third stay at Towns Hospital in New York in September 1934, his downward-spiraling drinking was out of hand, seemingly-hopeless, and medically-incurable.[158] Bill and his wife Lois—desperate at this point—were at Towns Hospital to get a verdict from Dr. William D. Silkworth. Silkworth explained that Bill’s obsession was too deep to overcome and the physical effects were too severe. Bill was already showing signs of brain damage, and if it went on in the same way they would have to fear for his sanity.

 

Lois asked: “what does that mean exactly?” Silkworth replied: It means you will have to confine him, lock him up somewhere if he is to remain sane. He cannot go on for another year.[159] But then Dr. Silkworth provided his surprising promise. During Bill’s September 1934 stay at Towns Hospital under Dr. Silkworth’s care, Bill discussed with Dr. Silkworth the subject of the “Great Physician.”[160] Several sources, including Norman Vincent Peale, in his book The Positive Power of Jesus Christ, agree that it was Dr. Silkworth who used the term “The Great Physician” to explain the need in recovery for a relationship with Jesus Christ.”[161] Dr. Peale tells of another patient to whom Dr. Silkworth had given the same advice that the Great Physician gives the healing; that “His name is Jesus Christ; and that he keeps office in the New Testament and is available whenever you need him.”[162] Silkworth’s biographer points out that Wilson himself wrote: “Alcoholism took longer to kill, but the result was the same. Yes, if there was any Great Physician that could cure the alcohol sickness, I’d better find him now.”[163] The compelling promise, then, was: Jesus Christ– the ‘Great Physician’--can cure you.” And this is certainly the part of the story that had not been known for years. For documentation, see Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W., xiii, 5, 12-21, 34-35, 50-76, 88-107, 117-40, 164, 170, 178, 187-94, 204-05.

 

In late November 1934, not long after Bill’s September 1934 stay at Towns Hospital, Ebby arrived at Bill’s home in Brooklyn to tell Bill of his Oxford Group contacts, his lodging in Calvary Mission, his acceptance of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and the plain fact that hit Bill hard—Ebby’s telling Bill: “God has done for me what I could not do for myself.”[164]

 

In a detailed manuscript I found at Stepping Stones, titled “Bill Wilson’s Original Story,” Bill told of his conversations with Ebby at the Wilson home. And Bill said the following:

 

Nevertheless here I was sitting opposite a man who talked about a personal God, who told me how he had found Him, who described to me how I might do the same thing and who convinced me utterly that something had come into his life which had accomplished a miracle. This man was transformed; there was no denying he had been reborn.[165]

 

.           In this same manuscript—“Bill Wilson’s Original Story”—Bill sets forth an extensive account of the “steps” Ebby taught Bill during this remarkable visit.[166]

 

Bill later said in his own autobiography: “. . .  in no waking moment thereafter could I get that man [Ebby] and his message out of my head.[167] Bill concluded that Ebby had apparently been “saved” at the mission,[168] was shouting “great tidings,”[169] and had become “much more then inwardly reorganized. He was on a different footing. His roots grasped new soil.”[170]

 

·         The impact on Bill of Silkworth’s powerful recommendation that the “Great Physician,” Jesus Christ, could cure Bill of Bill’s alcoholism, and of Ebby’s own story of how he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior at Calvary Mission (and been transformed), left Bill quite ready to check out the advice for himself. Bill first visited Calvary Church itself to hear Ebby’s testimony from the pulpit. He saw Ebby get up in the pulpit and give witness to the fact that, with the help of God, he had been sober for a number of months.[171] Bill told Billy D. at the mission that if Ebby could get help at the mission, he was sure he needed help and could get it at the mission also.[172] Concluding that maybe what happened to Ebby at the Mission and what the Great Physician did for him could help Bill.[173]

 

·         Next came Bill’s own trip to Calvary Mission itself the morning after he heard Ebby’s testimony at Calvary Church. There at Calvary Mission, in Lois’s words that Bill had transmitted to his wife Lois about his trip to the altar, Bill said, “he went up, and in all sincerity did hand over his life to Christ.”[174] Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr.’s wife was present in the mission and was there “when Bill went to the altar and made that decision for Christ;” and she told me, Dick B., that on the telephone from her home.[175]

 

·         After Bill’s acceptance of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior at the altar, Bill did three significant things:

 

As he later approached Dr. Silkworth to check in at Towns Hospital, Bill was waving a bottle around and announced: “At last, Doc, I’ve found something.”[176] In one of the manuscripts I saw at Stepping Stones, Bill said, at page 3, “I waved a bottle and told the doctor, ‘Well, this time I’ve “found something.”’”[177] Legend and speculation have posited that Bill was referring to two philosophy books he might have been carrying and from which he hoped to get inspiration.[178] That undocumented speculation about Bill’s philosophy books seems highly unlikely to have been made by a drunk in his cups since Bill had just been to the Mission, had there “found” the Lord Jesus Christ,[179] and had been born again.

 

In his autobiography, Bill had written of his tortured last drunken and despairing trip to Towns Hospital on December 11, 1934. He said: “Yes, if there was any great physician that could cure the alcohol sickness, I’d better seek him now, at once. I’d better find what my friend (Ebby) had found.[180] After Bill had accepted Christ at Calvary Mission, he wrote in two different places: “For sure, I’d been born again.”[181] Shortly, Bill—still drunk—wrote a letter stating, “I’ve found religion.” And I (Dick B.) found at the Stepping Stones Archives this letter which Bill had addressed to his brother-in-law Dr. Leonard Strong.[182] So Bill’s own descriptions of these born again events were that he had, for sure, been born again, that he had at last found something, and that he had found religion—a phrase similar to that which Ebby had uttered to Bill when he first visited Bill in Bill’s home in late November 1934. Ebby had told Bill, “I’ve got religion.”[183] And Bill had specifically written in two different places, “For sure, I’d been born again.”[184]

 

The final march to Towns Hospital after Bill’s surrender at Calvary Mission came next. Bill was drunk, depressed, and desperate. There was a brief period of more drinking, depression, and reflection about the Great Physician.[185] In his autobiography, Bill relates that he was pondering the importance of getting help from the Great Physician. He mentioned this Great Physician solution three times.[186] He actually mentioned it at least once before the entire A.A. International St. Louis Convention in 1955.[187]

 

In his Towns Hospital room, Bill cried out to God for help: “If there is a God, let Him show Himself. I am ready to do anything, anything.”[188] This involved the vital religious experience which came to be described in several ways. First, Bill’s explained that his hospital room had “blazed with an indescribably white light,” he had mountain top thoughts, and breeze of the spirit sensitivity. Bill said: “And then the great thought burst upon me. “Bill, you are a free man. This is the God of the Scriptures.”[189]

 

·         Silkworth confirmed to Wilson that Bill had had the kind of vital religious experience that William James, Dr. Carl Jung, and Rev. Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., had written about.[190] Bill quoted Silkworth: “There has been some basic psychological event here. I’ve read about these things in the books. Sometimes spiritual experiences do release people from alcoholism.”[191]

 

·         In the hospital, Bill was given a copy of Professor William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience, a book which contained stories of vital religious experiences in missions where alcoholism was cured. Bill “devoured” it, spending most of the day reading it.[192] He felt his religious experience was validated.

 

In fact, as a result of Bill’s “white light” experience at Towns Hospital, he believed that God had commissioned him to help all the drunks in the world. For example, Bill W. stated in a 1939 letter to Earl T. [founder of the first A.A. group in Chicago]:

 

"The summer I worked in Akron with Doc Smith, we tore about frantically and only bagged two who made the grade, Ernie G ----- and Bill D ------.

"Here in New York, it was the same story. I went along six months talking to a lot of them before any permanent results were obtained, and at that time, I was laboring under the delusion I was divinely appointed to save all the rummies in the world."[193]

 

In an article in the A.A. Grapevine, Bill said:

 

 Neither did they [the Oxford Groups] take kindly to my repeated declaration that it shouldn’t take long to sober up all the drunks in the world.[194]

 

In Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, Bill wrote:

 

My thoughts began to race as I envisioned a chain reaction among alcoholics, one carrying this message and these principles to the next. More than I could ever want anything else, I now knew that I wanted to work with other alcoholics. . . .

My sudden spiritual experience, however, had its disadvantages. I was soon heard to say that I was going to fix up all the drunks in the world, . . .[195]

 

After Bill’s religious experience, Bill never again doubted the existence of God.[196] He succeeded in overcoming the resentment against (and blaming of) God he had held since Bertha’s death during Burr and Burton days.[197] One example of Bill’s later change of course toward reliance upon and trust in God was this remark that Rev. Sam Shoemaker wrote in his notes of the sobriety birthday of Bill Wilson on November 9, 1954. Bill clearly evidenced his changed views about God. Shoemaker quoted Bill’s talk as follows:

 

“Who invented AA?” says Bill. “It was God Almighty that invented A.A. This is the story of how we learned to be free. God grant that AA and the program of recovery and unity and service be the story that continues into the future as long as God needs it.”[198]

 

Bill also certainly gave God the credit when he uttered what Bill D. called the “Golden Text of A.A.”[199] Bill W. said to Bill D.’s wife:

 

Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people.[200]

 

·         On discharge from Towns Hospital on December 18, 1934, Bill set out with Bible under his arm, promising sobriety to every drunk he could corner if they, like he, would only turn their lives over to God.[201] Bill participated with Shoemaker and Calvary Church members in processionals that marched to Madison Square for witnessing.[202] And Bill relentlessly and fervently visited derelicts in the streets, the Bowery, mental wards, hospitals, flea bag hotels, and even Oxford Group meetings.[203] Bill said: “Burning with confidence and enthusiasm, I pursued alcoholics morning, noon, and night.”[204]

 

·         But looking back on his first six months of effort in New York from December 18, 1934, until Dr. Bob sobered up with Bill’s help in Akron in early-to-mid-June 1935, Bill stated: “I went along six months talking to a lot of them before any permanent results were obtained, . . .” [205] Dr. Bob commented on Bill’s early failures. He said: “You recall the story about Bill having had a spiritual experience and having been sold on the idea of attempting to be helpful to other drunks. Time went by, and he had not created a single convert, not one. As we express it, no one had jelled. He worked tirelessly, with no thought of saving his own strength or time, but nothing seemed to register.”[206]

 

·         Before Bill W. began working with Dr. Bob in Akron on May 12, 1935 (Mother’s Day), no one that Bill had tried to help had succeeded in maintaining sobriety.[207] And Bill’s wife Lois confirmed that fact.[208] Bill said: “At the end of six months nobody had sobered up. And believe me, I had tried them by the score. They would clear up for a little while and then flop dismally.”[209]

 

·         Bill said: “For years he [Dr. Silkworth] had been proclaiming alcoholism an illness, an obsession of the mind coupled with an allergy of the body.”[210] Bill described it as “[t]hat verdict of science—the obsession that condemned me to drink and the allergy that condemned me to die—. . .”[211] Bill added: “. . . [T]his double-edged truth was a sledgehammer which could shatter the tough alcoholic’s ego at depth and lay him wide open to the grace of God.”[212] Silkworth urged Bill to tell more about the devastating malady.[213] Shoemaker urged Bill to continue his witnessing and his carrying of the message to others like himself. And Bill took Shoemaker at his word.[214]

 

John’s Challenge to Dick B. about A.A.’s Having Come from the Bible

 

As suggested by John, I (Dick B.) did read DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers. I saw repeated references to the Bible, prayer, Quiet Time, Christian literature, Christian devotionals, belief in God, and surrender to God through accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (as I was later to verify). This caused me to conclude that I was reading about the real, early A.A. in Akron that I had never, ever, heard of in my first few years of active A.A. sobriety and participation.

 

I (Dick B.) then went to the A.A. International Convention in Seattle, Washington, in 1990 to get evidence and details about the Akron Bible roots and Christian fellowship. But I returned empty-handed except for what I had already learned as to the real roots and the Bible, and some Oxford Group leads.

 

I (Dick B.) bought and researched Bill Pittman’s A.A.: The Way It Began as a catalyst.[215]

 

I (Dick B.) visited Dr. Bob’s daughter at Founders Day in Akron--and there discovered Dr. Bob’s library.[216]

 

From my (Dick B.’s) interviews with Dr. Bob’s daughter, Sue Smith Windows, I discovered the existence of, and then obtained from GSO archives a copy of, the personal journal Anne Smith kept from 1933 to 1939.[217]

 

I (Dick B.) interviewed the three children of Henrietta B. Seiberling (who had been such an active force, along with her children, in early Akron A.A.) These children were John Seiberling in Akron, Mary Huhn in Pennsylvania, and Dorothy Seiberling in New York, Dick was asking about the biblical, Oxford Group, and actual meeting aspects of early A.A.[218]

 

I (Dick B.) had gleaned from the DR. BOB and the Good Old-timers book the real elements of the first Akron program—abstinence from liquor forever; surrender to God; obedience to God; growth in spiritual understanding through Bible study, prayer, Quiet Time, and Christian literature; intense work helping others get straightened out; fellowshipping with other Christians in the homes; and, if the pioneers chose, attending religious services at least once a week.[219]

 

From, and as follow-up on, the DR. BOB and the Good Old-timers source that my (Dick B.’s) friend John had recommended, came much information on: (1)  how newcomers were qualified; (2) hospitalization as a must; (3) profession of belief in God; (4) reading the Bible with Dr. Bob in the hospital; (5) learning the importance of helping others; (6) fellowshipping with each other daily; (7) reading literature and devotionals Dr. Bob circulated; (8) observing Quiet Time meetings with Dr. Bob’s wife each morning; (9) accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; and (10) the remarkable resemblance of early Akron A.A.’s “Christian fellowship” to the principles and practices of the First Century Christians—as reported in the Book of Acts.[220]

 

Whatever importance AAs assigned to Bill W. and his vital religious experience, there is ample evidence that both Bill and the “vital religious experience” elements of pioneer A.A. played a great role in the conversion aspect of the early A.A. “surrenders.”

 

Not to be overlooked when one is searching for all the roots of A.A.—even those roots which entered the scene with Bill’s “new version of the program” (the Twelve Steps)--are the multiple ideas that Bill took from the Oxford Group’s 28 beliefs and practices, along with the immense number of Oxford Group/Shoemaker words and phrases that were poured by Bill himself into his 12 Steps and Big Book, and which influenced the very words and language in the Big Book Bill wrote.[221]

 

Now, the “rest of the story” can begin to be pulled together, along with the resources that document it. Also, the special importance in the subsequent Big Book that Sam Shoemaker’s words and ideas had on the turn in recovery ideas that Bill took as he wrote the 1939 A.A. recovery version chapters in the Big Book.

 



[1] The Language of the Heart: Bill W.’s Grapevine Writings (NY: The AA Grapevine, Inc., 1988), 298.
[2] For an extended discussion of the changes made to the “original draft” of the Twelve Steps, see: Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age (New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1957, 1985), 17, 162-64, and especially 166-67.  (Note especially the changes relating to the word “God” made in Steps Two, Three, and Eleven.)
For specific examples of some of the changes made in the wording of the Twelve Steps before and just after the first edition, first printing, of Alcoholics Anonymous (the “Big Book”) was published in April 1939, see, for example: (1) Step Eleven.  This Step did not include the words “as we understood Him” following (and modifying!) the word “God” as it was worded in the “prepublication copy”/“mimeograph issue ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’”—also known as the “Multilith Edition” and the “Original Manuscript”)— see: (a) “Chapter Five: How It Works” in “The Original Manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous”: http://mcaf.ee/sa6pf; accessed 2/17/2014; and (b) The Book That Started It All: The Original Working Manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2010), 59. (2) Step Twelve. This Step read in the first edition, first printing, of Alcoholics Anonymous (April 1939): “Having had a spiritual experience . . .” See: Alcoholics Anonymous: “THE BIG BOOK”: The Original 1939 Edition. With a New Introduction by Dick B. (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 2011), 72. The wording of Step Twelve was changed in the first edition, second printing, of Alcoholics Anonymous (March 1941) to read: “Having had a spiritual awakening . . .” See “Big Book Changes”: http://www.silkworth.net/bb_changes/index.html; accessed 2/17/2014.
[3] The Language of the Heart, 60. A similar quote of Scott’s is recorded on page 184 of ‘PASS IT ON’ (NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1984).
[4] See, for example: (1) John D. Rockefeller, Jr. [Robert Thomsen, Bill W. (New York: Harper & Row, 1975), 275; (2) Nelson Rockefeller [Lois Remembers (New York: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., 1987), 128-29; (3) John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s, agent Frank Amos: DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers (New York, N.Y.: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980), 135-36.
 
[6] Contrast Dr. Bob’s description with today’s “drunkalogs.”
[7] Alcoholics Anonymous (“the Big Book”) was not published until April 1939; and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions was not published until 1952. In addition, the meetings of the early days were not like those of today.
[8] The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks (NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1972, 1975), 13.
[9] The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, 13-14.
[10] The Language of the Heart, 196-200.
[11] The Language of the Heart, 197, 199.
[12] The Language of the Heart, 197.
[13] Alcoholics Anonymous Come of Age, 160-61. See also: The Language of the Heart, 197, 199.
[14] The Language of the Heart, 297.
[15] The Language of the Heart, 195-96.
[16] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 13.
[17] The Language of the Heart, 297.
[18] ‘PASS IT ON,’ 124.
[19] The Language of the Heart, 297.
[20] The Language of the Heart, 297-98.
[21] The Language of the Heart, 298.
[22] Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A., Pittsburgh ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1999), 551.
[23] The Language of the Heart, 298.
[24] Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism, 533-35, 335-36, 340-41, 345, 357, 359, 361-69. 380-84, 147-50, 4-10.
[25] Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism, 9-10.
[26] The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, 13-14.
[27] Alcoholics Anonymous: “The Big Book”: The Original 1939 Edition. With a New Introduction by Dick B. (Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 2011), 35-36. This section of text is found on page 25 of Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed. (New York City: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 2001).
[28] See Dick B. and Ken B., Pioneer Stories in Alcoholics Anonymous: God’s Role in Recovery Confirmed! (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2012), 75-90.
[29] Dick B., God and Alcoholism: Our Growing Opportunity in the 21st Century (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2001), 78-128.
[30] Bill W., “Alcoholics Anonymous—Beginnings and Growth,” Presented to the New York City Medical Society on Alcoholism, April 28, 1958,” 12: http://aa.org/lang/en/catalog.cfm?category=4&product=27; accessed 2/19/2014.
[31] Bill W., “Alcoholics Anonymous—Beginnings and Growth,” 17: http://aa.org/lang/en/catalog.cfm?category=4&product=27; accessed 2/25/2014.
[32] See Step Two in Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 59. And note that the original draft of Step Two read: “. . . that God could restore us . . .” See Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 166-67.
[33] See Steps Three and Eleven in Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 59. And note again that the original draft of Step Three read: “. . . of God.” And that the original draft of Step Eleven read: “. . . contact with God, praying . . .” See Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 166-67.
[34] For the only two occurrences of the phrase “Higher Power” on pages 1-164 of the fourth edition of the Big Book, see Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 43 (cp. the earlier reference on page 43 to “divine help”) and 100 (cp. the earlier references on page 100 to “his relationship with God” and “in God’s hands”). And note that, in the first of its two occurrences in chapters one through eleven of the first printing of the first edition of the Big Book, this phrase was capitalized as “higher Power”—i.e., with a lowercase initial “h” in the word “higher.” See Alcoholics Anonymous: “The Big Book”: The Original 1939 Edition, with a New Introduction by Dick B. (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2011), 55.
[35] See Bill W., My First 40 Years: An Autobiography by the Cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous (Center City, Minn.: Hazelden, 2000).
[36] Bill W., My First 40 Years, 141.
[37] Bill W., My First 40 Years, 141-42. The text has been reformatted, and Ebby’s points have been numbered, for clarity. Punctuation and capitalization (of the word “how”) are as they appear in the original.
[38] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 11.
[39] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 12.
[41] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 160.
[42] The parting of Bill and Lois, and of the other New York AAs, from the Oxford Group took place around August 1937, as we will discuss in more detail and document in another video in this series.
[43] In September 1993, Rev. Sam Shoemaker’s daughter Nickie Shoemaker Haggart provided to Dick B. the text of the April 23, 1963, letter from Bill W. to Rev. Sam Shoemaker from which this quote was drawn. See Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism, 551.
[44] “A Fragment of History: Origin of the Twelve Steps” in The Language of the Heart, 200.
[45] “A Fragment of History: Origin of the Twelve Steps” in The Language of the Heart, 200.
[46] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 160.
[47] “A Fragment of History: Origin of the Twelve Steps” (July 1953) in The Language of the Heart, 200.
[48] For example: (1) the first meeting of the Cleveland A.A. group was not held until May 11, 1939, in the home of Clevelander Albert R. (“Abby”) G. See DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers (New York, N.Y.: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980), 164-65. (2) Lois W. said, “. . . [I]n the summer of 1937 Bill and I stopped going to OG [= Oxford Group] meetings.” See Lois Remembers: Memoirs of the Co-Founder of Al-Anon and wife of the Co-Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (New York: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., 1979), 103. But it was not until January 2, 1940, that Dr. Bob wrote Bill W.: “Have definitely shaken off the shackles of the Oxford Group . . .” DR. BOB and  the Good Oldtimers, 218.
[49] DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 131.
[50] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 160.
[51] When I was interviewing Bill’s secretary Nell Wing in New York, she handed me a copy of the alleged “six steps” in Bill’s own hand-writing. The paper on which the “steps” were written stated “For Ed.” It was signed “Ever April/1953 Bill W. Original A.A. Steps.” See: (1) Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A., Pittsburgh ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1999), 551-52; and (2) Dick B., “Alcoholics Anonymous Origins and Early History: Darkness, Be Gone. Let There Be Light,” http://www.dickb.com/articles/Darkness_Be_Gone.shtml, accessed 12/9/2013; and (3) Jared C. Lobdell, This Strange Illness: Alcoholism and Bill W. (NY: Aldine De Gruyter, 2004), 242-43.  You may see a copy/reproduction of Bill’s statement “For Ed” here: http://thejaywalker.com/pages/sixstep.html; accessed 2/12/2014.
[52] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 59.
[53] According to Richard K., Earl T. got sober in April 1937. See Richard K., New Freedom: Reclaiming Alcoholics Anonymous (Haverhill, MA: Golden Text Publishing Company, 2005), 383-86. The writer of the personal story “He Sold Himself Short” states in the story that he had a week-long slip “[a] few months after I made my original trip to Akron.” Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 264.
[54] See: “He Sold Himself Short”—pages 287-96 in the 2d and 3rd editions of Alcoholics Anonymous and pages 258-67 in the 4th edition of Alcoholics Anonymous.
[55] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 263.
[56] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 263.
[57] See, for example: Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 64, 68, 136; Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 122; Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1952, 1953, 1981), 40, 55.
[58] DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 227.
[59] The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, 15, 19, 20; DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 222, 314.
[60] DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 74, 110, 111, 144, 228, 229. Cp. 131, 139
[61] DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 50.
[62] Neither a “Six-Step program” nor “six steps” are mentioned on page 179 of DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers.
[65] Lois Remembers, 92.
[66] The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, 13.
[67] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 160.
[68] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 161.
[69] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 161-62.
[70] ‘PASS IT ON,’ 198-99.
[72] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 160.
[73] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 11.
[75] DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 131.
[77] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 162.
[78] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 153.
[79] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 25.
[80] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 166-67. There were also several other changes, but they were minor in comparison with the significance of the changes in Steps Two, Three, and Eleven relative to the use of the word “God.”
[81] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 166-67. See also pages 17 and 162-64.
[82] The Language of the Heart, 200.
[83] The Language of the Heart, 178-79.
[84] See Dick B. and Ken B., Stick with the Winners! How to Conduct More Effective 12-Step Recovery Meetings Using Conference-Approved Literature: A Dick B. Guide for Christian Leaders and Workers in the Recovery Arena (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2012), 39-46.
[85] See, for example, Acts 1:1-10; 2:21-36, 38-47; 3:1-26; 4:8-16, 31-33.
[86] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 162.
[87] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 17.
[88] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 167.
[89] See Dick B. and Ken B., Bill W. and Dr. Bob, the Green Mountain Men of Vermont: The Roots of Early A.A.’s Original Program (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2012).
[90] http://mcaf.ee/6zwgx; accessed 2/4/2014.
[91] Susan Cheever, My Name is Bill: Bill Wilson—His Life and the Creation of Alcoholics Anonymous (NY: Washington Square Press, 2004), 17; Francis Hartigan, Bill W.: A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson (NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2000), 10-11.
[92] Dick B. and Ken B., Bill W. and Dr. Bob, 6, 11-12, 14-16, 19-32, 35-42, 93-103.
[93] Mel B., Ebby: The Man Who Sponsored Bill W. (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 1998), 16.
[94] Mel B., Ebby, 51.
[95] Mel B., Ebby, 15-17, 51, 60-62, 66, 70.
[96] Emerald Lake is about eight miles north of Manchester.  See Leslie B. Cole, Rogers Burnham: The Original Man Behind Bill W. and the Role of Vermont in Alcoholics Anonymous History (n.p.: Exlibris Corporation, 2011), 13, 22-30,
[97] Mel B., Ebby, 23-26; Cole, Rogers Burnham, 13, 22-30, 36-37, 72-74, 138, 141. East Dorset, Vermont, is less than four miles south of Emerald Lake.
[98] Borchert, The Lois Wilson Story, 40.
[99] Mel B., Ebby, 23.
[100] “A play program dated April 25,1913 lists the part of Bottom, a Weaver to be portrayed by Edwin Thacher. This production of "A Midsummer-Night's Dream" was presented by Burr and Burton Seminary in Manchester, VT at the Union Opera House. This would suggest that Ebby attended B&B during the school year 1912-1913. . . Theseus was played by William Wilson and Helena by Dorothy Wilson.” http://mcaf.ee/kwc5s; accessed 3/18/2014.
[101] Mel B., Ebby, 25-26.
[102] Cole, Rogers Burnham, 110; Borchert, The Lois Wilson Story, 32.
[103] Cheever, My Name Is Bill, 54-55.
[104] Hartigan, Bill W., 20; Borchert, The Lois Wilson Story, 33.
[105] Cheever, My Name Is Bill, 55.
[106] Borchert, The Lois Wilson Story, 40.
[107] ‘PASS IT ON,’ 83.
[108] ‘PASS IT ON,’ 83.
[109] iPASS IT ON,’ 83-84.
[110] Mel B., Ebby, 49-62; Cole, Rogers Burnham, 85-94.
[111] Mel B., Ebby, 52-53, 59-61.
[112] Dick B. and Ken B., Bill W. and Dr. Bob, 40-44
[113] Mel B., Ebby, 54.
[114] Mel B., Ebby, 48-51, 52-59.
[115] Cole, Rogers Burnham, 94.
[116] Mel B., Ebby, 49-52.
[117] Mel B., Ebby. 49.
[118] Cole, Rogers Burnham, 70. 111.
[119] Mel B., Ebby, 64.
[120] Mel B., Ebby, 51.
[121] Mel B., Ebby, 52.
[122] Mel B., Ebby, 49-50.
[123] Cole, Rogers Burnham, 92.
[124] Mel B., Ebby, 50.
[125] Cole, Rogers Burnham, 93.
[126] T. Willard Hunter, AA & MRA: “It Started Right There.” Behind the Twelve Steps and the Self-help Movement, rev. ed. (Claremont, CA: Ives Community Office, 2006), 6.
[127] Jay Stinnett, “AA Spiritual History Workshop: Why Our Lives Were Saved,” Reykjav√≠k, Iceland, March 11, 2007.
[128] Mel B., Ebby, 58-59.
[129] Cole, Rogers Burnham, 92.
[130] Mel B., Ebby, 61-62.
[131] Bill W., My First Forty Years: An Autobiography by the Cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2000), 131.
[132] Bill W., My First Forty Years, 131-32.
[133] Thomsen, Bill W., 221.
[134] Mel B., Ebby, 65. Stinnett claims Ebby’s surrender took place in September 1934: “September 1934 New York. Ebby Thacher makes a decision for Christ at Calvary Mission and his drink obsession is removed.” See Stinnett, “AA Spiritual History Workshop,” March 11, 2007.
[135] Bill W., My First Forty Years, 133-34.
[136] Bill W., My First Forty Years, 134-35.
[137] Bill W., My First Forty Years, 6.
[138] Cheever, My Name Is Bill, 4 (parsonage).
[139] Thomsen, Bill W., 34.
[140] Thomsen, Bill W., 200.
[141] Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W.: More on the Creator’s Role in Early A.A., xii-xiii
[142] Dick B. and Ken B., Bill W. and Dr. Bob, 20-26;  Robert J. Wilson, III, and Phebe Ann Lewis, The First Congregational Church, Manchester, Vermont: 1784-1984 (Manchester, VT: Bicentennial Steering Committee of the First Congregational Church of Manchester, Vermont, 1984).
[143] Thomsen, Bill W., 60; Borchert, The Lois Wilson Story, 32; ‘Pass It On,’ 35.
[144] Cheever, My Name Is Bill, 28-29.
[145] Cheever, My Name Is Bill, 38, 47, 48, 94, 104; Thomsen, Bill W., 34.
[146] Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W., xiv.
[147] Dick B. and Ken B., Bill W. and Dr. Bob, 24.
[148] Cheever, My Name Is Bill, 116; Dick B. and Ken B., Bill W. and Dr. Bob, 24.
[149] Cheever, My Name Is Bill, 116.
[150] Cheever, My Name Is Bill, 116; Bill W., My First Forty Years, 137.
[151] In our extensive investigation of the premises of East Dorset Congregational Church, Ken and I viewed the church’s confession and creed.
[152] Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W., xiv.
[153] Hartigan, Bill W., 58.
[154] Hartigan, Bill W., 58.
[155] Hartigan, Bill W., 52.
[156] Frederica Templeton, The Castle in the Pasture: Portrait of Burr and Burton Academy (Manchester, VT: Burr and Burton Academy, 2005), 14-15, 20-26.
[157] Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W., 32-33.
[158] Dale Mitchel, Silkworth The Little Doctor Who Loved Drunks: The Biography of William Duncan Silkworth, M.D. (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2002), 44; Ernest Kurtz, NOT-GOD: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 1979), 254, n. 26.
[159] Thomsen, Bill W., 195.
[160] Mitchel, Silkworth, 44.
[161] Mitchel, Silkworth, 50.
[162] Mitchel, Silkworth, 51.
[163] Mitchel, Silkworth, 44.
[164] Hunter, “It Started Right There,” 6; Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 11.
[165] Dick B., Turning Point: A History of Early A.A.’s Spiritual Roots and Successes, 99-100.
[166] Dick B., Turning Point, 92-109
[167] Bill W., My First Forty Years, 134-35,
[168] Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W., xiv, 99.
[169] Dick B. The Conversion of Bill W., 32
[170] Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W., 32.
[171] ‘Pass It On,’ 119.
[172] ‘Pass It On,’ 119.
[173] ‘PASS IT ON,’ 119; Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A., 2d. 358.
[174] Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W., 61.
[175] The Conversion of Bill W., 61,
[176] ‘PASS IT ON,’ 120.
[177] Dick B., Turning Point, 96, note 40.
[178] ‘PASS IT ON,’ 120.
[179]  There are abundant examples of a person’s saying: “I found the Lord Jesus Christ.” The following are two of many:  http://www.jackhyles.com/waterfine.htm; http://www.newchristian.org.uk/sue.html
[180] Bill W., My First Forty Years, 139.
[181] Bill W., My First Forty Years, 147; Dick B., Turning Point: A History of Early A.A.’s Spiritual Roots and Successes, 99-100.
[182] Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W., 95.
[183] ‘PASS IT ON,’ 95.
[184] Dick B., Turning Point, 98; Bill W., My First Forty Years, 147.
[185] Bill W., My First Forty Years, 135, 145
[186] Bill W., My First Forty Years, 145, 139.
[187] Bill W., My First Forty Years, 139, 45. In Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, Bill told the whole St. Louis Convention: “So if there was a great Physician who could cure the alcoholic sickness, I had better seek Him now, at once. I had better find what my friend (Ebby) had found,” 61.
[188] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 63.
[189] The Language of the Heart: Bill’s W.’s Grapevine Writings, 284.
[190] Dick B. and Ken B., Pioneer Stories in Alcoholics Anonymous: God’s Role in Recovery Confirmed! (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2012), Appendices Three and Four, pages 75-90.
[191] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 63.
[192] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 64.
[193] : ‘PASS IT ON,’ 225-26
[194] Bill W., "A Fragment of History: Origin of the Twelve Steps," in The Language of the Heart: Bill W.'s Grapevine Writings (New York: The AA Grapevine, Inc., 1988), 198.
 
[195] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age (New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1957, 1985), 64.
[196] ‘PASS IT ON,’ 121; See also Cheever, My Name Is Bill, 119.
[197] ‘PASS IT ON,’ ____.
[198] Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism, 2d ed., 395.
[199] Dick B., The Golden Text of A.A.
[200] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 191.
[201] Borchert, The Lois Wilson Story, 170.
[202] Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism, 2d ed., 556.
[203] Borchert, The Lois Wilson Story, 170.
[204] ‘PASS IT ON,’ 131.
[205] ‘PASS IT ON,’ 220.
[206] The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, 9-10.
[207] Borchert, The Lois Wilson Story, 170-73;’PASS IT ON,’ 166.
[208] Lois Remembers, 95.
[209]PASS IT ON,’ 132.
[212] “A Fragment of History: Origin of the Twelve Steps,” July 1953 in The Language of the Heart, 197.
[213]PASS IT ON,’ 133.
[214] Borchert, The Lois Wilson Story, 170.
[215] Bill Pittman, AA: The Way It Began (Seattle, WA: Glen Abbey Books, 1988).
[216] See Dick B., Dr. Bob and His Library, 3rd ed.
[217] See Dick B., Anne Smith’s Journal, 1933-1939, 3rd ed.
[218] See Dick B., The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous, 2d ed.; Dick B., The Oxford Group & Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd ed.; and Dick B., The Books Early AAs Read for Spiritual Growth, 7th ed.
[219] See DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 131.
[220] See Dick B. and Ken B., Stick with the Winners!, 27-38.
[221] Dick B., The Oxford Group & Alcoholics Anonymous, 2d ed., 341-64; and Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism, 2d ed., 153-70.