History of Alcoholics Anonymous – a refresher for YOU


History of Alcoholics Anonymous

Dick B.

© 2014 Anonymous. All rights reserved

One of the reasons we are about to publish a video series and accompanying guidebook is to get “the rest of the story” before those interested in A.A. and 12 Step recovery. The title will be: “Bill W., Dr. Bob, and the Cure of Alcoholism: ‘The Rest of the Story.'” A.A. had several different epochs, more and more being documented as research continues. The first is how the first three got sober when there were no Steps, Traditions, Big Books, War Stories or meetings like those today. The simple facts are in “The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. Next came the Akron Christian Fellowship program. It was founded in June, 1935; and its first group (Akron Number One) was founded July 4, 1935. DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers summarizes the program on page 131. It was not an Oxford Group program. It certainly was not a “spiritualist” program.  It was a program drawn from their belief that the answer to their problems was in the Bible—particularly the Book of James, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13. As Dr. Bob stated, its basic ideas came from three years of study, teaching, and effort in the Bible, from which the basic ideas came. Next, came Bill Wilson’s purported “six” word-of-mouth ideas which he said formed the basis for expansion to Twelve Steps. But these “six” were controversial, not generally  agreed upon, and presented in at least 4 different ways by Bill. Next, Bill worked with Rev. Sam Shoemaker to develop the “new version” of the program. His work began in 1938 and was published in the First Edition of the Big Book in mid-1939. In that version, Bill claimed the sources were three: (1) Professor William James. (2) Dr. William Silkworth. (3) Reverend Sam Shoemaker. Finally, came the great compromise just before the First Edition went to the printers in 1939. The word “God” was literally stricken from the Second, Third, and Eleventh Steps. A strange hand-written insert attributed to Ebby Thacher was inserted at the beginning of the typewritten manuscript and claimed that Ebby told Bill: “Choose your own conception of god.” But the evidence shows that Ebby never made such a statement or held such an idea. The final statement in this last phase was made by Bill when he said his little “committee of four”–a secretary, a Christian, an atheist, and Bill–had made the changes. Nobody else! But Bill said this was the great contribution of the atheists and agnostics. You can get up to speed through my books (46), my 1600 articles, my newsletters, and by reading A.A. conference-approved literature in full. Also, feel free to contact me at 808 874 4876 in Maui. God Bless, Dick B.


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