|Chapter 4: THE BOOK||4.2 - Publication|
|4.1 - Its Beginnings and Writing Of||4.3 - The Break From the Oxford Group|
"To show other alcoholics PRECISELY HOW WE HAVE RECOVERED is the main purpose of this book."
In the early days of A.A., the entire fellowship was bound together by a chain of personal relationships - all created on the basis of a common program, a common spirit and a common tradition.
In 1937, William Griffith "Bill" Wilson traveled throughout the Midwest looking for job prospects. He stopped off in Akron, Ohio to visit with Doctor Bob and Anne Smith. Both he and Doc discussed their successes and their many failures. They reminisced about their first meeting and about trying to find some means to help change their lives.
Two years earlier, in a handwritten letter, dated "May '35," Bill had written his wife, Lois, "I am writing this in the office of one of my new friends, Dr. Smith. He had my trouble and is getting to be an ardent Grouper. I have been to his house for meals, and the rest of his family is as nice as he is." This letter which was written on Dr. Bob's office stationary went on to say, " I have witnessed at a number of meetings and have been taken to a number of people. Dr. Smith is helping me to change a Dr. McK., once the most prominent surgeon in town, who developed into a terrific rake and drunk. He was rich, lost everything, wife committed suicide, he was ostracized and on the point of suicide himself. His change, if accomplished, would be a most powerful witness to the whole town as his case is so notorious."
This shows Bill D. (Alcoholics Anonymous Number Three) was obviously not the first drunk that they had tried to "fix." After Bill and Bob "Dr. McK." was the third. This happened even before they tried to fix another guy, Eddy R. as reported in DR. BOB AND THE GOOD OLDTIMERS. Eddy would have been AA #3 in June 1935 but he slipped. He eventually got sober in 1949 at the Youngstown group, Ohio.
The aforementioned letter is presently located at Bill Wilson's home at Stepping Stones in its Foundation Archives and a copy of it at Cleveland Intergroup archives. It is believed to be the earliest correspondence known regarding Bill's association with Dr. Bob. It was written before Bill had moved in with the Smiths and after their first meeting at Henrietta Seiberling's home. Surprisingly the letter —handwritten with pencil— reports an upcoming "audit" in connection with Bill's planned rubber machinery deal.
This contradicts the common story, the deal had already totally failed. And, as the story goes, Bill was tempted by the bar noise in the Mayflower Hotel, made afterwards his miraculous phone call to Rev. Tunks, was put in touch with Henrietta and finally met Dr. Bob. The document does not support this story.
After two years of working with "rummies", Bill and Dr. Bob had helped to "fix" and helped about forty seemingly hopeless alcoholics to achieve sobriety. Almost all these forty members of the yet unnamed society had attained at least two years of solid uninterrupted sobriety. There were others who had difficulty maintaining a consistent sober status. Yet, they too continued to attend the Oxford Group meetings on somewhat of a regular basis.
It appeared to Bill and Dr. Bob that they finally had developed a workable solution to the age old problem of alcoholism. They both felt it would developed into something tremendous if it could be kept in its original form and not diluted or changed by word of mouth as one drunk passed it on to another.
The two founders discussed the possibility of a book which would explain in detail, the life-changing formula that people could follow. The book would contain stories, examples of individuals, hopeless alcoholics, who had attained and continued to maintain their sobriety. This book, when finished would afford many thousands, if not millions of alcoholics and their families whom Bill, Dr. Bob, and the other early members could not personally contact, the opportunity that the founders had had for a changed life. The book would also insure, for generations to come, that this new way of life - as outlined in the book - would not become distorted or changed in any way.
Prior to the publication of the book, and while the first chapter was "being dictated," Henry G. P. ("Hank") wrote the "Sales Promotion Possibilities" and "The Market" for the book. Hank pointed out to Bill the following as to market potential:
"1. Over one million alcoholics (Rockefeller Foundation)
2. At least a million non alcoholics that have definite alcoholic relatives
3. Every employer of 100 or more people
4. Those that take an academic interest
5. Two hundred & ten thousand ministers
6. One hundred sixty-nine thousand physicians
7. The total would be well over three million prospects"
Hank also had proposed an outline for the book, and the outline is located at Stepping Stones Foundation Archives. Even prior to Hank's marketing proposal and book outline, Bill had had similar ideas. With the promotional opportunities which lay before him, Bill's mind had begun to work overtime. Not only would there be need for a book to carry the message, there would also be an even greater need for hospitals and even paid missionaries. Hospitals to house the thousands of new converts and paid missionaries to continue to carry the message and the book around the country. Eventually around the world. Bill's ideas were lofty indeed.
Even though the fledging fellowship had only a small band of forty sober drunks, Bill was thinking in the millions. Not just in millions of new converts, but in millions of dollars as well. However, in order to make millions, there would have to be a good deal of money to promote this new idea.
There would have to be campaign to raise funds. Alcoholism was a plague upon mankind, and the fellowship had found, he felt, the only cure that had worked. And it had worked, at least for them.
Bill had forgotten about the failures of the Washingtonians and of the Temperance Societies. He appeared even to have forgotten the new fellowship's own many failures. Yet Bill thought that, surely, the well-to-do would donate vast sums of money toward this worthy cause. Hadn't some of those same rich people generously supported the founder of the Oxford Group, Dr. Frank N. D. Buchman and donated to other philanthropic causes. Bill Wilson and Doctor Bob felt that they could wipe out alcoholism with their simple plan. But Dr. Bob, though enthusiastic about this idea, did not wish to run off and do something rash.
He calmly suggested to Bill that they get the Akron fellowship together and get its opinions. They could all pray for guidance, and further discuss the idea. Bill was not too keen on Dr. Bob's idea for a meeting, because of the strong possibility that Bill would be voted down. Doc insisted. According to Clarence, Dr. Bob stated that he would not be a part of anything in which the others and God were not involved.
When Doc insisted, he usually got his way. For Bill knew that the majority of successful members were in Ohio and that they were loyal to Doctor Bob. The few members in New York could not possibly carry out this plan without the Akron's help. Bill acquiesced in Doc's wishes and called the members of the New York contingent to tell them of the plan.
The New York members apparently were fired up by Bill's flowery words and promises of fame and fortune. They told him they would vote on his proposal and get back to Bill within the next day or two.
The Ohio members, on the other hand, who were in the majority, not only in sheer numbers, but in length of continuous sobriety, did not get so fired up. They held a meeting. They listened to Bill as he paced the room. Bill waved his hands, and at times pounded his fist on the table. The Akronites watched as Bill lit cigarette after cigarette, often letting the ashes drop on his suit. Bill was an excitable, "nervous man, whose clothing always was full of cigarette ashes. He spoke loud and was always moving around, raising his voice for emphasis and always wanted to be in the front of things" [Quoted from an interview with Sue Smith-Windows, Dr. Bob's daughter].
The Akron meeting listened to all that Bill had to say and then listened to the few words that Doc had to say. Then they decided to have a quiet time and pray for guidance in this matter as they did in all important (and even in unimportant) matters.
The answer that came to them by guidance was almost unanimous, to the man. And they were against the idea of the hospitals and the paid missionaries. They were even against the idea of the massive fund-raising effort. They did however, like the idea of the book, voted to discuss it further, and prayed for more guidance. They too, like Doc, could not be moved from their position.
The debate raged on. Bill continued to promote his ideas to the Ohio members, with times of prayer in between. A final vote was taken upon the urging of Doc.
When the votes were counted up, only the book idea and a proposal for a minimal amount of fund raising, "just to cover expenses" passed. Clarence remembered being told by Doc, "It was real close, I think that it was passed by only one vote." Bill then returned to New York to start the book project, as he and Hank thought they were the only ones with enough expertise to do it. They were also going to try to raise some funds for this venture.
Bill was met at the train station in New York by Hank P., who was waiting - willing and eager to promote this new money-making idea. Henry G. P. ("Hank") was the first drunk with whom Bill had worked that had stayed sober for any length of time. When Hank left A.A. at a later point, he had about four years of sobriety.
Bill had first met Hank at Towns Hospital, which was located at 293 Central Park West in New York City. This was the same hospital at which Bill had several times been a patient. It was there that Bill later claimed to have had his "White Light" spiritual experience.
Hank was a red-headed dynamo salesman and promoter whose head, like Bill's was always filled with grandiose ideas, or so Clarence felt. These ideas had gotten Hank into very high positions in life. However, because of his excessive drinking, Hank had been fired from a Vice President's position at Standard Oil of New Jersey. He then landed in Towns Hospital and was treated for chronic alcoholism. Prior to going into the Towns, Hank had started a new business venture and opened a small office in New Jersey.
And it was in this small office space on the sixth floor at 17 William Street in Newark, New Jersey, that A.A. had its first office. And Ruth Hock, Hank's secretary, eventually became A.A.'s first secretary.
According to Clarence, Ruth was also one of the primary reasons Bill and Hank eventually had a falling out, a few years later. Clarence told the author, "I don't remember exactly who was hitting on Ruth, but one of these birds had to go, it was a real mess."
Both Clarence and his wife Dorothy became very close with Ruth and, in later years, still remained friendly with her. Clarence thought that it was probably Hank who was the one who had made romantic advances towards Ruth and that Bill told him not to. But, as Clarence put it, nobody told Henry G. P. "No" and remained his friend. And certainly not his business partner.
In any event, when Bill returned from Akron in 1937, Hank and Bill compiled a listing of wealthy men who, they thought, would be willing to "pour" money into this noble cause. They had Ruth write numerous letters, and they personally called upon each and every one of the men on their list. They told each man of the "cure" that they had effected, giving themselves and other sober members as living proof of their success. After a great deal of effort, letter writing, cajoling, pleading, and "sure-fire" sales ploys, they had been unable to raise a single dollar. Nor were they able to arouse the slightest interest in the project.
Both men became despondent. It seemed that their grand scheme had fallen apart. Bill was prone to depression and, as early as the beginning of May 1935, he wrote Lois "I am sorry I was blue yesterday" [This letter is located at the Stepping Stones Foundation Archives].
There was absolutely no money to publish the book. Dreams of hospitals and paid missionaries had seemed to vanish, gone up in smoke. However, Bill and Hank would not give up. They were driven men, determined to continue on. Continue against impossible odds to fulfill their dreams. Doc and the Ohio contingent continued with their prayers and continuously added to the numbers of sober alcoholics in their fellowship.
Bill came up with another idea. In the fall of 1937, he visited with his brother-in-law, Dr. Leonard V. Strong (Dr. Strong was married to Bill's sister, Dorothy, was personal physician to the entire Wilson family, and was personal physician to Clarence's sister-in-law, Virginia.) Bill told Dr. Strong about the bad luck that both he and Hank were having in raising the necessary funds to bring their project to fruition. Bill also stated to Dr. Strong that he wished that he (Bill) had entree to John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
Bill was sure that if John D. were to take a personal, as well as financial interest in this great humanitarian work, he would invest heavily in it. Didn't Mr. Rockefeller fight vigorously for the Constitutional Amendment dealing with Prohibition and hadn't he given vast sums of money to that cause, Bill asked Strong.
Dr. Strong listened intently to Bill. He tried to think if he could be of any assistance. After all, he was Bill's brother-in-law, and Bill was indeed staying sober due to this new way of life. A miracle indeed.
Dr. Strong remembered a young woman whom he had dated back in High School. This woman was a the niece of Willard Richardson's and Willard Richardson just happened to be head of all of John D. Rockefeller Jr.'s Church charities. Strong remembered Richardson quite well, and also remembered that Mr. Richardson had solicited contributions from him on several occasions.
Dr. Strong told Bill he would contact Richardson and that he would, in fact, call him on the telephone at his office. During that phone conversation, Dr. Strong explained to Richardson the work that Bill and the others had been doing and about the great success that they had been having in working with alcoholics. Strong also pointed out, at Bill's insistence, the great need for funding and of the lack of success that they were having in securing it.
Willard Richardson became so excited about the idea that he suggested that Bill and Dr. Strong come over the very next day in order further to discuss the group's ideas and possibilities. Dr. Strong begged apology that he could not attend, but wrote a letter of introduction for Bill to Mr. Richardson which was dated October 26, 1937.
Bill attended the meeting with Richardson the next day, and after a lengthy conversation, both decided to set up another meeting. This meeting would be with some of Mr. Rockefeller's close associates. Bill felt that he was on his way to the top.
The proposal for this later meeting was outlined in a letter from Mr. Richardson to Dr. Strong, dated November 10, 1937. This proposal stated that they would meet in "Mr. Rockefeller's private board room." Present, for Rockefeller's staff would be: 1) Richardson, 2) Albert L. Scott, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Riverside Church and President of Lockwood-Greene Engineers, Inc., and 3) Frank Amos, an advertising man and close friend of Mr. Rockefeller. [Years later, in Frank Amos's obituary, he would be lauded as "one of the five men who founded Alcoholics Anonymous." The obituary pointed out that Amos had been a long term trustee of what was to become the Alcoholic Foundation in 1938.] 4) A. LeRoy Chipman, an associate who looked after many of Rockefeller's affairs.
To add legitimacy also invited were Dr. Strong and Dr. William D. Silkworth from Towns Hospital, a renowned expert of that day in the field of alcoholism. Dr. Silkworth would later write "The Doctor's Opinion" in the A.A.'s Big Book. Dr. Bob decided to come, as well as Fitzhugh "Fitz" M., who was the son of a minister and a resident of Cumberstone, Maryland. Fitz's story "Our Southern Friend" appears in all three editions of the Big Book. Also invited were other members of both the New York and Akron fellowship.
This meeting, which was held in December of 1937, proved to be one of the turning points for what was eventually to be known as Alcoholics Anonymous. The alcoholics who were present told their stories about how they were released from alcoholism. When they were through, Albert Scott, who was chairing the meeting, stood up and excitedly exclaimed, "Why, this is First Century Christianity! What can we do to help?"
The dollar signs in Bill's eyes lit up again. Here were Rockefeller's staff asking what "they" could do to help. Bill then began explaining a litany of things the fellowship would need. Money for paid workers and for chains of nationwide and, eventually, worldwide hospitals. The hospitals would be strictly for alcoholics. Then there was the book project and other literature that paid missionaries would be using to help them in carrying the message. Of course, Bill explained, they would start off modestly; but eventually, vast sums of money would be needed if this were to grow into a much needed world wide movement.
Being the promoter and one of the organizers of the project, Bill explained that the profits from the sales of hundreds and thousands of books would get this movement on its feet. However, for right now, they needed a vast sum of seed money to start.
As Dr. Silkworth and some of the alcoholics were caught up in the enthusiasm many expressed pretty much the same opinion. Except, that is, for Doc and most of the Akron contingent present, who kept their reservations to themselves. They were reserving their right to question Bill's motives later.
After the alcoholics had their chance to speak, a most important question was asked of them. A question that would save A.A. for many years to come. A question that would save the alcoholics from themselves.
"Won't money spoil this thing," they were asked? Bill and many of the other New York members sank down in their chairs. Dr. Bob felt God's hand in this reasoning. The question was repeated, "Won't money create a professional class that would spoil their success of working man-to-man? Won't chains of hospitals, property and prestige be a `fatal diversion'?"
It seemed to Bill and the New York alcoholics that all of the complaints and votes expressed in Akron were coming up all over again. Complaints that began both to haunt and send them into a state of discouragement and despair. But it was a saving grace that saner and sober non-alcoholic minds prevailed.
Frank Amos left for Akron that next week. Akron was chosen because it was the most successful in membership numbers and length of continuous sobriety. It was also the most probable sight for the first, if any, of the alcoholic hospitals. This due, in part, to the fact that Dr. Bob, the proposed head doctor, lived in Akron.
Amos went over everything two or three times with a fine tooth comb. He interviewed members of the medical community; families and members of the yet unnamed society; and the clergy, who were involved with them. Amos attended meetings of the Oxford Group and scouted sights for the proposed hospital. He came away from the experience sold on the idea.
Amos returned to New York, as excited as Bill had hoped he would be. In preparing his report, Amos left out no details of what he had seen and found. In his recommendation to Mr. Rockefeller, he proposed that this new society be given the sum of $50,000 which, in today's terms, would have been equal to something between $3,000,000 and $5,000,000. [Weekly income for a simple job was $8 in those years.] This was indeed something worthwhile. Something that Mr. Rockefeller would surely be interested in. It encompassed religion, medicine, reclaimed lives, and families of those who were once thought hopeless. This society had found a solution and had brought it all together in one package.
John D. Rockefeller Jr. read the report and intently listened to the glowing praises of this new work. After careful consideration, and taking into account the reasons for the demise of other such previous ventures, Rockefeller flatly turned down the vast money request that Amos had proposed. Rockefeller stated in all honesty, "I am afraid that money will spoil this thing." He then outlined his reasons, which were almost identical to the concerns expressed by the Akron members. Again, thankfully, saner, more sober minds prevailed. At least for the moment.
It was at this point that Willard Richardson explained to Mr. Rockefeller, the desperate financial predicament that Dr. Bob and Bill were in. He said that, in order for them to continue with this venture, they would need some money, a stipend as it were.
Rockefeller pondered upon this for a moment and then agreed to place in the treasury of the Riverside Church the sum of $5,000. This amount was to be held in a special account so that Doc and Bill could draw upon it as they needed money. Rockefeller warned them, however, that if this new fellowship eventually were to become any sort of success, as he knew that it could be, it must be self-supporting.
Out of that $5,000 that was donated by Mr. Rockefeller, $3,000 immediately went to pay off the mortgage on Doc's home. This, it was reasoned, was so that Dr. Bob's mind would be set at ease since he had thought he wouldn't be able to provide a home to himself and his family. It was felt that release from financial insecurities as to his home would enable Dr. Bob to better care for the alcoholics that were placed in his charge.
The remaining balance of $2,000 was earmarked to be parceled out to both Bob and Bill in the amount of $30 per week. This amount would be used to provide the basic necessities of life for them and for their families so that they could continue working on the restoration of the lives of hopeless alcoholics. ($30 per week translated into late 1990's economics equals out to approximately $2,500 a week, four times what the average worker of that day earned.)
Even though Rockefeller had agreed to give only $5,000, which gave both Doc and Bill an above average income enabling them to devote more time and effort to the new cause, the rest of the men who were at the meeting felt as if more could be done. They proposed that more immediate funding could be made available to this cause by establishing a tax free or charitable trust or foundation. They decided upon this charitable foundation to make funds more attractive to prospective donors and benefactors by enabling them to deduct, as a contribution, any donations or gifts from their personal and/or corporate income taxes. This idea was enthusiastically received by those in attendance at the meeting. Especially by Bill and the New York contingent.
Through the help and assistance of Frank Amos, a young lawyer by the name of John Wood (at the time a junior partner in one of New York's better known law firms), was retained to help bring the foundation idea to fruition.
Wood attended all of business meetings and was instrumental in formulating this new foundation. After much discussion and argument, the fledgling venture was named "The Alcoholic Foundation."
To those gathered at the final vote, the name sounded just as important and prestigious as was the proposed work upon which they were starting. A trust agreement was drawn up, and a Board of Trustees was appointed. Once again, only after hours of discussion and argument.
The Board, it was finally decided, was to be comprised of three non alcoholics - Willard Richardson, Frank Amos and Dr. Leonard Strong. It was also to contain two alcoholic members - Dr. Bob and a New York member, who, at a later date, returned to drinking, and had to be forced to resign. Therefore, this member shall remain nameless.
The momentous founding of the Alcoholic Foundation took place in May 1938. Yet, even though there was now a tax free foundation, and through there were extensive efforts by the Board and a professional fund raiser who had donated his services and expertise free of charge, very little, if any new funding was raised.
Sometime in the early spring, (March of 1938), the early members began writing the first draft of what was later to become known as the basic text of the new fellowship. This was the precursor of the book, ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS.
Recently, a twelve-page, handwritten outline and certain suggestions for the book was found in the archives of the Stepping Stones Foundation in Bedford Hills, New York. Written at the bottom of the cover page, in Bill's writing, were the words, "Hank's Ideas." The author verified that the outline was written by Hank P.
Hank's document contained an outline of the work, a listing of twenty-five occupations for the writers of personal stories, "Sales Promotion Possibilities, Suggestions for Chapter 1, Observations," and "Questions and Answers."
The "Questions and Answers" were as follows:
1. The question is often asked- where does the money come from this work?
2. How do I know this will work with me? Why is this method better than any other religious method? (It is not- this is only a step toward a religious experience which should be carried forward in Christian fellowship no matter what your church)
3. Will I fail if I cannot keep my conduct up to these highest standards?
4. What happens when an alcoholic has a sexual relapse?
5. There is so much talk about a religious experience- what is it?
On page eight of Hank's document, in the "Observations" section, there is something of an answer to the "religious" question. Hank wrote:
Hank, when writing of the "four steps," was probably referring to the Oxford Group's Four Absolutes of Honesty, Unselfishness, Purity and Love. Prior to the Steps being written, the early A.A. members used these principles to keep sober, as well as other Oxford Group tenets.
Hank's ideas as well as those from other members in New York and Akron were guidelines for the writing efforts of AA's founders, who supplied their manuscripts. In any event Hank's outline appears to be the earliest known outline for the Big Book's contents. Hank wrote of the proposed book that it was "...for promotion of cure and understanding of alcoholism."
As a part of the fund raising for the book, Bill wrote his own story, including a report about Ebby's visit at his kitchen table and many other ideas taken directly from Oxford Group literature.
Bill was utilizing the office on 17 William Street in Newark, New Jersey, since Hank's business was almost defunct. Bill traveled daily to the office from his home at 182 Clinton Street, in Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn, New York. He could write the rough drafts at home, bring them to Newark, and dictated to Ruth Hock what he had written the night before.
The drafts for chapters were circulated in rough and unedited form. These were sent to prospective donors. And then Frank Amos came up with another proposal. This, once again, gave Bill new hope.
It so happened that one of Frank Amos's close friends was the Religious Editor at Harper's Publishing. The editor's name was Eugene Exman. Amos thought, Eugene might be interested in publishing a book.
Bill made an appointment and went to see Mr. Exman. Bill arrived at Exman's office with the unedited pages in hand (See Appendix "Bill's Original Story" for a one page example). He spoke to Exman not only of the proposed book, but also of their struggles, failures, and successes. Bill went on to tell of their great plans and of Mr. Rockefeller's interest in the venture. He then handed over the some 1200 lines typewritten by Ruth Hock. Exman was interested, much to Bill's relief. Exman asked Bill if the members could finish the book in a similar style and manner, though refined and edited from its rough form. He also inquired of Bill as to an approximate completion date.
Bill was excited. He answered, "It will probably take nine or ten months." Exman offered the movement a $1,500 advance on royalties which would be deducted from the account when the book was complete and was selling in the book stores.
Elated both with himself and with his apparent success, Bill went back to the Board of Trustees of the Alcoholic Foundation with the offer and told them of their coming good fortune. He emphasized the word "fortune."
It was their consensus that this was indeed the correct route to take. They considered how hard it would be for unknown authors to publish their own book about a "cure" for alcoholism. Especially one written by people who were neither doctors nor psychologists. Harper's was a well known publisher with an excellent reputation and had the means properly to market the book.
But a great deal of resistance developed in the New York A.A. fellowship. They insisted that the book be kept as a Foundation project, and not involve any outsiders or outside enterprise.
The Board was neither moved nor impressed with these arguments. But there were two fractions, each unwilling to move from its position on this issue.
Bill was perturbed. He wanted to do what was right for the fellowship and for himself, but he was at a loss to know which course was right. He wanted to be on the side that was right.
Bill went to his friend and business partner, Hank P., with his dilemma. Bill felt both he and Hank thought alike, and that he would get from Hank the answer he really wanted to hear. Further Bill had asked Hank to submit his personal story for inclusion in the book. This story which would later appear as "The Unbeliever" and was printed in the sixteen printings of the First Edition. Bill felt Hank would return this favor.
Hank came up with the following reasoning: If Harper's, a well known publisher, was willing to pay unknown authors an advance of $1,500 on the basis of a rough draft, he and Bill could, on their own, make millions. Hank was a salesperson of the first order and "sold" Bill on this idea.
Yet it was not so much a sales job as it was a reaffirmation of Bill's own thoughts. Since the Trustees had not as yet been able to raise one cent, and the prospects of their doing so seemed bleak, Hank suggested to Bill that they bypass the Foundation. He proposed to Bill that they put the book on a business basis and not a fellowship basis and that they form a stock company to raise the much needed capital, publish the book themselves, and make payment to Harper's from revenues from the sale of books.
Bill went back to Harper's on his own, without informing the Board of Trustees. He spoke once again with Eugene Exman. He explained what he and Hank had discussed and asked for Exman's personal and business opinion. Bill was prepared for an argument and had formulated in his own mind, sure fire responses that he had rehearsed with Hank in order to bring Exman around to his point of view.
Much to Bill's surprise and consternation, Exman agreed fully with him. Exman explained that, contrary to his company's financial interest, he too felt the book should be published, but fully controlled by the Alcoholic Foundation.
Bill left the office feeling he had to convert the Foundation to his way of thinking. However, when he did meet with the Trustees in executive session, they did not feel as he had thought they would. But it was too late. Despite their objections, Bill's mind was made up. The die was cast.
He had made his decision to bypass Harper's and the Foundation. Bill thought he could draw on the experience of the Oxford Group and on Hank's business expertise. Both Bill and Hank were fueled with high hopes and dreams of success. More importantly, to Hank at least, money. Hank had already started out on his well-planned and formulated sales campaign. He cornered every A.A. member that he could find. He spoke to everyone he knew. He utilized every sales ploy in the book and probably even some that to this day have yet to be written.
Hank was the ultimate high pressure salesperson. So much so that Bill had to go around after him to smooth ruffled feathers, anger, and hurt feelings. This not to mention soothing the suspicions that were beginning to arise concerning the motives of Bill and Hank in all this promotion business.
The early members had firmly believed, recovery work was to be their life's avocation - for free. "No pay for soul-surgery" was an Oxford Group idea. To reclaim lives and "fix rummies" without thought of reward was their tradition. Yet Hank was stressing the millions of dollars to be earned - a dream also shared by Bill.
Yet in only a few short weeks, the members of the New York contingent gave their consent. But it was only lukewarm, and given with reservations. Bill discounted the lukewarm response and reservations preferring to claim their unanimous consent.
Dr. Bob eventually became sold on the idea and became convinced that he too should give his approval. He gave his approval and consent, but he stipulated that this should not be made known to the Akron fellowship. At least, not until the proposal had the full approval and consent of the Board of Trustees of the Alcoholic Foundation. And finally, after much pressure, the Board reluctantly let them go ahead with the proposed plan.
Bill and Hank began formulating a prospectus that would, hopefully, convince the alcoholics who were just beginning to see tangible results from their sobriety. Bill and Hank hoped to get them to part with money. Money which would go toward a company that had yet to publish, and yet to sell a single book.
Bill and Hank investigated cost factors, production, publicity, and distribution. Hank wrote, in his outline for the book, that the title page should read:
While at Cornwall, Bill and Hank found the book would probably be about four hundred pages when finished, and would cost about thirty-five cents per copy to print. It was to have a retail selling price of three dollars and fifty cents, and a wholesale price of two dollars and fifty cents. Hank pointed out that the balance would be all profit. The two left Cornwall secure in the knowledge that they would be reaping millions of dollars.
Hank's outline and included a chart which showed the estimated profits that would be realized from projected sales, respectively, of 100,000, 500,000 and even on 1,000,000 books. The Prospectus talks about 15,000 to 500,000 copies. (See page 126)
The Trustees were strenuously objecting to the plan and stipulated that they would only tolerate the plan when and if royalties were paid to the Foundation. Bill readily agreed to this stipulation. He knew he would own at least one-third of the shares and, according to his agreement with the Foundation, would thus receive one-third of any profits. He surmised the profits from his 200 expected shares would be much greater than what could be received from any other payment.
The Trustees then reluctantly agreed to tolerate and accept the royalties, knowing that it would probably happen even without their consent. They felt that by agreeing, they would have some sort of hold on Bill and Hank and retain some checks and balances.
There remained only two more minor details to be worked out. The first concerned the fact that there was no publishing company incorporated. The second was that, without incorporation, they could not sell stock and without stock, there would be no capital to move onward.
Hank immediately solved these problems. None of the previously suggested names were eventually used. Someone came up with "WORKS PUBLISHING". There are at least three explanations as to the origin of the name that they chose. The first is that one of the favorite Bible quotes in early A.A. was from the Book of James. It was "Faith Without Works Is Dead." The second is that this first book was to be the first of many "works" by the new publishing company. The third is that when the members of the group were questioned as to why this "cure" had worked when all others had failed, they simply replied - "It Works." In any event, the name "Works Publishing Company" was adopted.
According to "official" AA history books Hank went to a local stationery store and purchased a pad of blank stock certificates. He had Ruth Hock type across the top of each certificate - "WORKS PUBLISHING COMPANY, par value $25.00." At the bottom of each certificate was typed, Henry G. P., President.
When Bill saw these certificates and read them, he was, to say the least, not to enthusiastic about Hank's being President of the company. Especially when Bill himself wanted the honor. He was also quite annoyed at the obvious irregularity of Hank's doing all of this on his own, without consulting either Bill or the Trustees. According to Clarence, Bill was probably more concerned with his own feelings rather than with any irregularities or with the consultation of the Trustees. Hank finally convinced Bill that there was no time to waste and persuaded him, "why be concerned with the small details?"
There was one minor detail they had somehow managed to overlook. It turned out to be not so minor. That detail was that, despite all of their combined super sales efforts, they were unable to sell even one of the six hundred shares of Works Publishing, Inc. stock.
Not to be discouraged, Hank convinced Bill that they should go up to the offices of the READERS DIGEST in Pleasantville, New York to try and sell that magazine on the idea of printing a piece about the alcoholic society and about the forthcoming book. He and Bill believed that if READERS DIGEST could be convinced and indeed did print an article, the ensuing publicity would sell the book by "the car loads" and that this surge in sales would really convince "those tightwad drunks," as Hank described them.
Bill and Hank secured an appointment and went to Pleasantville to meet with Kenneth Payne, managing editor of the READERS DIGEST. They outlined their intentions for the book, for publicity, and for the new society. They dropped the names of Mr. Rockefeller and of the others who were Trustees of the Alcoholic Foundation.
Payne was interested. He assured them the DIGEST would print such a piece when the book was ready for publication. He then told them he would, however, have to meet with and get the approval of other editors and of the staff before he could finalize any agreement with them.
Armed with this new possibility for favorable publicity from a national publication, Bill and Hank hurried back to New York City and began, once again, to sell their stock idea. Many of the once reluctant members began to sign up.
Many couldn't afford the full twenty-five dollars. So shares were sold on the installment plan: Five dollars a month for five months. The Trustees pitched in as well. They were caught up in the new enthusiasm as were other friends of the movement.
Ruth then sent off copies of what she had typed to Doc in Akron. Bill also brought these copies to the weekly meetings of alcoholics who by that time were meeting in Bill's home. These same alcoholics had been asked to leave the Oxford Group meeting at Calvary Church in Manhattan.
Clarence remembered that they would "red pencil, blue pencil and any other kind of pencil" these drafts out in Ohio and then send the suggested corrections back to "Bill and the boys in New York." On the whole, the Ohio crowd approved of what was being written. Most of the drafts stressed the "spiritual side" of the teachings and principles of recovery. And Ohio had always held to the spiritual foundations of the program. This spiritual philosophy is still very much in evidence at many Cleveland meetings today.
A.A.'s new histories record that the New York "rummies", on the other hand, really tried to rip the book apart. They gave Bill a hard time with what he had written. The New Yorkers did not at all agree with the Ohio suggestions, continued to try to downplay the spiritual, and attempted to stress the "psychological and medical aspect of the illness."
In Irving Harris's book about the Reverend Samuel Shoemaker [Irving Harris, THE BREEZE OF THE SPIRIT: SAM SHOEMAKER AND THE STORY OF FAITH-AT-WORK (Seabury Press, 1978)], the pastor of Calvary Church and the "leader" of the Oxford Group movement in New York City, the ideology of the medical and psychological aspect was inspired by Dr. Silkworth. Harris says in that book, Silkworth told Bill:
Bill Wilson often stated that he had been an agnostic. And the New York group were stressing the medical and psychological aspects of recovery rather than the spiritual. But Bill did have his own private opinions in these matters. Thus he later wrote to an A.A. member in Richmond, Virginia in a letter dated October 30, 1940, "I am always glad to say privately that some of the Oxford Group presentation and emphasis upon the Christian message saved my life." This same "Christian message" showed in the success that Ohio members were having. The more secular medical and psychological message resulted in greater failure and relapse into drinking within the New York membership.
After writing the first four chapters which were sent back and forth from Akron to New York, they realized it was time to write about how the actual "program of recovery from alcoholism" really worked. There was enough background and "window dressing" in the earlier chapters, they felt. They needed at that point to get to a description of an actual "program of recovery." Something that had eluded them thus far in their writings.
The book had been going slow, what with all the re-writes. Several of the subscribers, people who had purchased stocks were discouraged by the lack of progress and began to slack off in their payments. The New Yorkers wanted to see more tangible results. They wanted the book to be finished and their investment realized.
Bill was of near exhaustion due to the constant bickering and controversy. He stated that, "On many a day I felt like throwing the book out the window." But the book had to be finished if all of his dreams were to come true.
One of the legends as to how the Twelve Steps of recovery were written is as follows: Bill was lying on his bed at Clinton Street one evening. He was exhausted, discouraged and at wits end. He had a pencil in his hand and a legal pad on his lap. Nothing was coming to mind. He had reached a total impasse. He prayed for guidance, as had been the Oxford Group custom. Then, with pencil in hand, he began to write. He put down on paper what he felt were the basic principles which comprised the procedures that at the time were being utilized. Bill felt that the alcoholics would find certain "loopholes" within his summary of original six "steps" the alcoholic squadron of the Oxford Group had been using. He wanted to make sure that there was nothing that a "rummy" could slip through and use as an excuse.
When he finally put his pencil down, there were Twelve Steps. Bill felt he had found the perfect formula. He had relied upon God's guidance. He also felt secure in the knowledge that just as Jesus had Twelve Apostles who went forth to carry the Gospel (or Truth), this new, as yet unnamed fellowship, had Twelve Steps to help alcoholics recover and go forth to carry their "Truth." This truth was RECOVERY. Recovery for the alcoholic who still suffered.
Bill no longer felt dejected. He felt renewed. Even when, in that same evening he was visited by two "rummies," who objected to the steps as Bill had written them. They loudly complained about the frequent use of the word "God" and of having to get on one's knees in the Seventh Step. Bill did not care. The Steps were to stand as they were.
But then Bill showed the Twelve Steps to the members of the New York contingent. Strong fights and heated discussions ensued. Some suggested "throwing the whole thing out." Some felt that there wasn't enough God mentioned. The latter, however, were in the minority in New York.
Fitz M. "insisted that the book should express Christian doctrines and use Biblical terms and expressions." Bill's opinion was now wavering back and forth.
Hank P., an agnostic like Bill, had realized God played an important part in his own recovery from alcohol but wanted to use a "soft sell on this God stuff." But he did insist, "Not too much."
The person most vocally and most vehemently opposed to any sort of mention of God in any way was Jimmy B. Jimmy was a strident atheist. He wanted any and all references to God removed. Not only from the Steps, but also from all of the earlier chapters of the Big Book. And he was insisting that God would not be mentioned in any of the later chapters as well. According to Clarence, "Jimmy remained steadfast, throughout his life, and `preached' his particular brand of A.A. wherever he went. New York, Pennsylvania and later, California."
However, though Jimmy never believed in God, he did later recognize that others did and that they too could be successful with their recovery by doing so. In a letter to Clarence and Dorothy Snyder, written soon after the SATURDAY EVENING POST article came out in March of 1941, Jimmy said he had just moved to Landsdowne, Pennsylvania near Philadelphia. He had "moved down on a new job two weeks ago," he said. And as soon as he had moved there, he started an A.A. group and began to carry his message of recovery. "Last week we had three at the meeting, and this week we have seven alkies. Several of them have been sober for a number of months on a spiritual basis and I do feel we have a swell nucleus started and they all want to go to work." In 1947, Jimmy wrote a privately mimeographed history of Alcoholics Anonymous entitled, THE EVOLUTION OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. This "history," though it contains inaccuracies, was the first historical piece that had been written about A.A.
Jimmy and his other atheist compatriots, along with the agnostic Hank, swayed the majority to their side. Bill had to give in. But not fully. Bill agreed to certain changes. He called them "concessions to those of no or little faith." These "concessions" consisted of including the phrase "as we understood Him" in the Third Step. Another was the eventual removal of the phrase "on our knees" from the Seventh Step. "On our knees" was in the pre-publication "multilith", or manuscript copy, of the Big Book which was sent out to early members and prospective purchasers of the book. But when the first printing of the Big Book came out, "on our knees" had been removed.
There were many other changes made to "tone down" the wording of the book. (Compare the original section of Chapter Five, "HOW IT WORKS," with the prepublication multilith copy in appendix B and The Evolution of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous).
The Ohio membership was opposed to any changes in the drafts of the book. They had achieved great success using the original message. Their numbers were growing; and the members who were staying sober, were staying sober with little or no cases of relapse into active alcoholism.
Two years after the publication of the book, Clarence made a survey of all of the members in Cleveland. He concluded that, by keeping most of the "old program," including the Four Absolutes and the Bible, ninety-three percent of those surveyed had maintained uninterrupted sobriety. Clarence opined that even with New York's "moral psychology" approach to recovery "had nowhere near our recovery rate."
He stated, in later years, "They (New York) keep making all of these changes, watering this thing down so much that one day it will be so watered down that it will just flush down the drain."
He also said, when he was asked why he was so outspoken in his stance for maintaining his program of recovery exactly as it was handed down to him by his sponsor, Dr. Bob, "If you don't stand for something in this life, you're liable to fall for anything!"
Hank P. once told Clarence that it was he, Hank, not Bill, who wrote the Chapter, "To The Employers." Hank told Clarence he "got no credit for it, not one damn mention from Bill." Reportedly Bill wrote the Chapter "To Wives." It is said Bill had once offered to have Anne Smith, Doc's wife, to write the chapter, but Anne didn't want to do so. Clarence said she knew that Bill had not made the same offer to his own wife and Anne did not want to hurt Lois's feelings. Lois had been angered by the offer to Anne and was deeply hurt. Lois once said she had held a resentment over that for many years after the book had come out. She later wrote a small four page pamphlet entitled "ONE WIFE'S STORY' which described her life with Bill. She stated, "Groups of the families of A.A.'s have sprung up all over the country with a three-fold purpose. First to give cooperation and understanding to the A.A. at home. Second, to live by the Twelve Steps ourselves in order to grow spiritually along with our A.A.. Third, to welcome and give comfort to the families of new A.A.'s."
This pamphlet was produced before the name Al-Anon was in existence. Lois inscribed to the author on his copy of the pamphlet, "This was one of the very early pamphlets." When Al-Anon finally did arrive, Lois, one of the Co-Founders of Al-Anon, learned to "detach with love" regarding to her long-standing resentment toward Bill over the chapter, "To Wives."
While the "Program" portion of the book was being written, the New York and Akron members were submitting their personal stories of recovery. In New York, Bill and Hank edited the stories submitted by the New York contingent. Many of them objected to how their stories were being totally changed by this editing. In the Archives of the Stepping Stones Foundation. in Bedford Hills, New York, there are several of these handwritten and edited stories which were submitted for the book.
In Akron, Jim S., who was an Akron newspaper reporter and early member, interviewed and helped write and edit all of the stories that came from the Akron area and eventually, all the New York stories a s well. Much of this writing took place around the kitchen table in Dr. Bob's home.
Jim S. was one of the men who had visited with Clarence in Akron City Hospital and had told Clarence his own recovery from alcoholism. Clarence had been asked by Doc to submit his story and, as he went over it with Jim, explained to Jim that he was having problems with his wife. Clarence and Jim tried to slant Clarence's story to appease Dorothy and, by doing so, brought the two closer together. Both Jim and Doc did not like this way of appeasing Dorothy and they admonished Clarence for his impure motives. Despite this, Clarence's "slanted" story was published "as is."
The Big Book was almost ready for publication. But there was one little problem. The book did not as yet have a name. Nor did this new fellowship of nameless drunks. Everyone was asked to submit names for the book. More than one hundred titles were actually considered. The following were some:
1) "The James Gang," taken from the General Epistle of James in the Bible, on which some of the recovery program was based.
2) "The Empty Glass," "The Dry Life," or "The Dry Way".
3) "The Way Out," the latter was abandoned after an extensive search was conducted in the Library of Congress which showed that there were already twelve other "The Way Out" books in publication. The members decided that it would be too unlucky to be number thirteen. Bill had even proposed calling the book and naming the fellowship, "The B.W. Movement," naming it after himself. This particular title did not meet with much approval from the Akron group who were fiercely loyal to Dr. Bob. About that story it says in AA Comes of Age pg 165
"I began to forget that this was everybody's book and that I had been mostly the umpire of the discussions that had created it. In one dark moment I even considered calling the book 'The B. W. Movement.' I whispered these ideas to a few friends and promptly got slapped down. Then I saw the temptation for what it was, a shameless piece of egotism."
Another popular title that was proposed was "One Hundred Men." This was popular due to the fact it showed the obvious success of the movement and also that one hundred was a nice round figure. Actually there were - at that point - only some forty sober members, between Akron and New York, with the vast majority being in Ohio. However forty men didn't seem as persuasive as one hundred.
As to the number "100", the meetings then were open not only to the alcoholics, but also to their families as well. The wives and the one or two husbands of the women members, were added to the number forty and amounted it to around a hundred people who were attending meetings.
There was one hitch to this title. The hitch came from one of the women members. Florence R., who was the only woman member in New York, objected strenuously. Her Story was submitted and printed in the pre-publication multilith edition and she did not want to be "one of the boys." In the multilith edition, her story was printed with a typographical error. The title was "A Femine Victory." The error was corrected in the First Edition, and the title of the story became "A Feminine Victory" in all sixteen printings of the First Edition.
Florence, unfortunately, did not maintain her sobriety on a constant basis; and it was reported that she had committed suicide in Washington, D.C. during an alcoholic depression. Her story was taken out when the Second Edition was printed in 1955.
In deference to Florence, they agreed that the title should not be "One Hundred Men". They did, however, continue to describe the book, on its title page, as "The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered From Alcoholism." This angered Florence very much. By the time the second printing of the First Edition came out in March 1941, the title page had been changed to Thousands of Men and Women."
The origin of the actual Big Book name, Alcoholics Anonymous, will probably forever remain unknown. Some have said it came from someone's describing the movement as a bunch of "anonymous alcoholics" who meet for their recovery; others said, "We were nameless drunks at a meeting." The most accepted version is that of a writer from NEW YORKER Magazine by the name of Joe W., who apparently coined the phrase. But Joe remained sober only periodically and, according to Clarence, never really "got the program."
The name Alcoholics Anonymous was definitely in use however by the late summer of 1938. At that point, the name was mainly used in connection with the title of the book and, only to a smaller extent, as the name of the fledgling fellowship. Meetings, both in New York and in Akron, were not as yet being called Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. They were still, in actuality, Oxford Group meetings. The Akron groups were still officially Oxford Group meetings; and the New Yorkers who, Clarence felt, had been asked to leave the Oxford Group meetings earlier, still had no other name for their gatherings. As Clarence once stated, the New York contingent had been asked to leave the Oxford Group because the "drunks and pickpockets" were no longer welcomed. This, he stated, was due to the large number of members who showed up drunk at meetings and from those members who picked the pockets of the well-to-do Oxford Group members who were also in attendance.
By the end of January 1939, the Big Book manuscript was ready for publication. Not all of the stories were completed or submitted as yet. However, twenty-one of them were finished. Four hundred copies were multilithed - an early form of mimeographing - and were spiral bound. They were packed to be shipped from Newark, New Jersey, the location of the office on William Street.
There was one other error which may or may not have been typographical. It even appeared on the title page. The book was called "ALCOHOLIC'S ANONYMOUS" with an apostrophe in the word, Alcoholic's. It is not found on all copies.
Several copies were sent out to members, doctors, clergy and other friends of the movement for their comments, criticism and evaluation. The balance of the copies were sold to people who had ordered the book before its final printing. There was no notice of copyright nor notice of the multilith beeing a review or loan copy. Since the multilith ed manuscript was published, sold and distributed to the public without these notices, according to the Copyright Act of 1909, it and all subsequent printings were forever in the public domain.
These original manuscripts are very rare today; and less than 50 are probably still in existence. Many are in deteriorated condition. Photostatted copies are available to interested parties at the Archives at the General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous in New York City for $12.
The multilithed, pre-publication copy contained the original "explanatory" chapters, including the chapter entitled "The Doctor's Opinion", which was written by Dr. Silkworth of Towns Hospital in New York City. Dr. Silkworth did not have his name printed in the book until the Second Edition, which came out in 1955.
This multilithed manuscript contained twenty-one personal stories. Eight were those of New York members - seven men and one woman. Thirteen stories were those of Akron members or people who were attending the meetings in Akron. Twelve of those stories were written by men; and one was submitted by a couple. "MY WIFE AND I." It was written by Maybell and Tom L.
One of the stories was written by a man who lived in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. At the time the book was being written, he was living with Dr. Bob and Anne Smith. He had been sent down to Akron by the Michigan Oxford Group for help because there were "no drunks" in the Michigan group at that time. This man was Archibald "Arch" T. He later returned to Michigan and started A.A. in Detroit. Archie's story was printed in the First Edition as "THE FEARFUL ONE" and was changed to "THE MAN WHO MASTERED FEAR" in the Second and Third Editions.
Another story, by a man who was attending the Akron meetings, was the "HOME BREWMEISTER." This man was Clarence H. Snyder; and his story appears in all three editions of the A.A.'s Big Book.
Of these twenty-one stories in the Manuscript edition, all save one made the first printing of the First Edition. The one was "ACE FULL-SEVEN-ELEVEN." Its writer was a member of the Akron group, whose name Clarence did not remember and of whose name the A.A. Archives in New York have no record. This member did not like the changes that were being made in the book. He also, as Clarence remembered, did not trust Bill Wilson. He felt Bill "was making money on the deal."
Clarence stated this man also did not like the promotion angle that was being presented. The man asked that his story be removed from the final printing. It therefore never appeared in the First Edition copy. His was the only story that talked about the addiction of Pathological (compulsive) Gambling, as well as that of alcoholism. His story ended with the line "His will must be my bet- there's no other way!" Clarence remembered that this man never returned either to gambling or to drinking. A.A. Archives does not release the names of any of the writers of the stories in the A.A.'s Big Book, and all of the names mentioned in this book were made available to the author by Clarence Snyder.
When the Big Book was ready for its final publication date, ten new stories were added. Four came from New York members, four from Akron and one from Cleveland. The Cleveland story was "THE ROLLING STONE" by Lloyd T. Lloyd got sober in February 1937 and stayed with the Oxford Group in Akron when the Cleveland group broke off. However, he too eventually came into A.A. and stayed sober.
There was one story that was supposed to have been written by a man from California. This story, "THE LONE ENDEAVOR," was written by a man named Pat C. According to the story printed in the book, he had gotten a copy of the multilith and got sober through it alone, without any personal contact. He then wrote to the Newark office, and they answered him, asking for permission to print his letter in the book. Permission was granted by return mail.
In Jim B.'s EVOLUTION OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, Jim B. related this story and added, "Our New York groups were so impressed by his recovery that we passed the hat and sent for him to come East as an example. This he did, but when the boys met him at the bus station the delusion faded, for he arrived stone drunk and as far as I knew, never came out of it." Other sources have it, that he came out and stayed out after this event.
There was one Al-Anon type story that was included in the ten new ones. Its title was "AN ALCOHOLIC'S WIFE," by Marie B. Marie B. was the wife of Walter B., whose story, "THE BACK SLIDER" also appears in the book.
We call this an Al-Anon story, probably the first on record, because Mary B. herself was not an alcoholic. In her story she wrote, "Since giving my husband's problem to God, I have found a peace and happiness. I knew that when I try to take care of the problems of my husband I am a stumbling block as my husband has to take his problems to God the same as I do."
Meetings in the early days were somewhat different from those held today. There were really no "closed" meetings. That is, meetings open only those with, or those who think that they have a problem with alcohol. Meetings in the early days were open to alcoholics and their families.
Henrietta D. (wife of Bill D., whose story "ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS NUMBER THREE" appears in the Second and Third edition of the Big Book) wrote a letter describing her early experiences at the meetings in Ohio. In it, she also described her first meeting with Anne Smith on Friday, June 28, 1935. The letter reads:
On Friday night, when I went to the house on Ardmore Avenue, I met the most thoughtful, understanding person I have ever known. After talking with her for a while, I addressed her as Mrs. Smith; and she said, "Anne to you my dear." She wanted to remove all barriers. She wanted God to have full credit for this wonderful thing that had happened to her. Bill W. was there at this time. After they talked with me for awhile, Anne asked if I would like to "go all the way with God," I told her I would. She, Anne, said we should kneel, which we all did, and told me to surrender myself to God and ask Him if he had a plan for me to reveal it to me... She taught me to surrender my husband to God and not to try to tell him how to stay sober, as I tried that and failed. Anne taught me to love everyone, she said, "Ask yourself, what is wrong with me today, if I don't love you?" She said, "The love of God is triangular, it must flow God through me, through you and back to God."
The author has wondered if this triangular description could be one of the reasons that the triangle and circle was the symbols and registered trademarks of A.A. A.A.'s had the triangle within the circle, and Al-Anon (still) has the circle within the triangle.
Henrietta D. continued, in her letter to describe what was probably the first Al-Anon meeting in the world. She wrote: "In the early part of 1936, Anne organized a `Woman's Group' for wives of alcoholics, whereby in her loving way, she tried to teach us patience, love and unselfishness. Anne made it very plain to me from the beginning, that she wanted no credit for herself..."
Anne explained to Henrietta that there was only one purpose for the wives and for the alcoholics. It was to "know and follow God's plan." After meeting with Anne, Henrietta described a phenomenon often experienced by others who had met with Dr. Bob. She wrote: "I was completely sold on A.A."
In reviewing Henrietta D.'s account, the author is reminded of Anne Smith's remarks in her Spiritual Workbook:
Anne was living "witness" to what living these precepts could produce in a person. Early A.A. accounts often record that everyone who came into contact with her could feel the presence of God and the peace and serenity that Anne possessed.
Two stories which appeared in both the multilith and the First Edition where those of Richard "Dick" S. (whose story is "THE CAR SMASHER") and Paul S., (whose story is "TRUTH FREED ME!"). Ironically, Paul and not Dick eventually died as a result of an automobile accident on September 19, 1953. However, both brothers remained completely sober until their respective deaths.
This ends the review of the writing of the book. All that then remained was to get the finalized and approved version of the book to Cornwall, New York. Hank, Ruth Hock, Dorothy Snyder (Clarence's wife) and Bill went together to a hotel in Cornwall. There they checked and corrected the galleys and got the book printed.
But there remained another detail. How were they going to pay the Cornwall Press the money necessary to print their book?
Take, Oh take the gift I bring! - Not the blushing rose of spring,
Not a gem from India's cave, Not the coral of the wave -
Not a wreath to deck thy brow, Not a ring to bind thy vow, -
Brighter is the gift I bring, Friendship's pearly offering.
Take the BOOK! Oh, may it be - Treasured long and near by thee!
Keep, oh keep the gift I bring, - Love and friendship's offering!
Ed Blackwell of The Cornwall Press told both Bill and Hank that he could not go ahead with the book printing until and unless they came up with some money. At least enough to cover the cost of the paper. Both men pleaded with Blackwell. Both had come this far. Could he not do them a favor for this worthwhile cause, they asked? They tried many sales ploys, and even dropped the name of Mr. Rockefeller. But Blackwell was not about to print the book on credit. He held fast to his requirement for payment up front. Bill and Hank drove back down to New York, disappointed once again. Disappointed but not undaunted.
Sales of shares of Works Publishing, Inc. were progressing very slowly. According to a printed financial statement that was issued in June 1940, there were at that time six hundred and sixty shares sold. Four hundred and five of them were owned by the Alcoholic Foundation. Forty-four individuals had subscribed to, and purchased one hundred and seventy-four shares. Five individuals received eighty-one shares given to them for "services rendered."
At twenty-five dollars par share, the total share offering should have produced $16,500. But, as of June 30, 1940, only $4,450 had been received.
By the time the book was being printed, less than six hundred and sixty shares had been sold. The multilith printing had cost one hundred and sixty-five dollars to print. And this was for four hundred copies.
By June 1940, the Cornwall Press had been paid two thousand four hundred fourteen dollars and seventy-one cents. (This included the printing plates which had been valued at $825.) All of this outlay of money; but not a single book had been ordered.
Bill Wilson had loaned the movement one hundred dollars. Charles B. Towns of Towns Hospital loaned the Foundation two thousand, five hundred and thirty-nine dollars. A Mr. William Cochran loaned another one thousand dollars.
Cochran, of the Cochran Art School of Washington, D.C., had been persuaded to loan the Foundation $1,000 at the insistence of Agnes M. Agnes was the administrator of Cochran's school and was the sister of Fitz M. whom Bill had helped sober up in New York. Agnes had been so grateful for her brother's rebirth that she did all that she could do to help.
Bill and finally the Foundation finally did manage to raise the necessary funds to cover the initial printing costs. Bill, Hank, Dorothy Snyder (Clarence's wife, who at that time was visiting with her sister in Yonkers, NY) and Ruth Hock went to Cornwall, New York to oversee the printing of the book. This was the first of many trips made to the little hamlet of Cornwall before the final galleys for the book were approved as ready.
The paper had been ordered. The book was to be printed in the thickest, cheapest paper possible. Bill, Hank, Dorothy and Ruth wanted to have the book appear much larger than its approximate four hundred pages. They wanted potential purchasers to believe they were getting something substantial for their money.
The Big Book's girth was expanded even greater by having the printer print each page with unusually large margins surrounding the text. This promised a very large and heavy volume. Thus, the book come to be known as the "Big Book."
The book's binding was red in color. Blackwell had an overage of red and explained to Bill and Hank that he would give them a special deal on this material. Ever cost conscious, Bill and Hank accepted. In fact, they even felt the color red would make the book more attractive and marketable. Red stood for royalty, so they thought.
The first printing was the only one on which a red binding was used. All the other bindings, except for that used with the fourth printing were in various shades of blue. The fourth printing, due to another overstock of binding material and thus, lower cost, was bound in blue as well as in green.
There was a typographical error in the first printing; despite all efforts to an even-free volume. On page 234, the second and third line from the bottom was printed twice. This error was removed from subsequent editions.
A New York City based artist and member of the Fellowship, Ray C., was asked to design the Dust Jacket. He submitted a few different ideas for consideration. These included one which was blue and in an Art Deco motif, and another which was red, yellow and black with a minimum of white. The latter had the words Alcoholics Anonymous printed across the top in large white script.
Hank and Bill chose the red, yellow and black mock-up: And the jacket became known as the "Circus" jacket due to its loud and circus-style colors. Bill and Hank felt this dust jacket stood out and was eye catching. The unused blue jacket is still located at the Archives at the Stepping Stones Foundation.
Ray C.'s story, "AN ARTISTS CONCEPT" appeared only in the first sixteen printings of the First Edition. His story was preceded with a quote. "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation." It says there it was from Herbert Spencer, though nobody has yet to find this quote in any of Mr. Spencer's works.
And though Ray's story was removed from the Second edition, the "Spencer quote" was retained. And it can now be found at the end of Appendix II, ("Spiritual Experience") in the Big Book at page 570.
The alcoholics were ready to go. They had a book that told of their experiences. They had a program of recovery that was outlined within the pages of the book. And they were conducting meetings of the alcoholic squadron of the Oxford Group. But even though there was an Alcoholic Foundation and references had been made in correspondence to "we of Alcoholics Anonymous," the alcoholics meetings were not yet actually called those of "Alcoholics Anonymous" or "A.A. meetings." But the gatherings were being held in both Brooklyn, New York and Akron, Ohio.
Bill and Hank had sent out four hundred copies of the multilith (which promised a book to follow when it was finally published). They sent letters and post cards to doctors, clergy and others. They sat back and waited for their Post Office to deliver sacks of mail containing thousands of orders for their books. And with the thousands of orders, they also expected thousands of dollars which would accompany them.
They waited and waited. Each day they called the Post Office, asking where the responses were. They were often told that none had arrived. Four thousand seven hundred and thirty books had been printed. Yet as of June 30, 1940, only two thousand, four hundred and five had been sold. They recorded "163 books outstanding against accounts receivable," and they recorded that two hundred seventy-nine books had been distributed free of charge.
In other words, from the publication of the first printing in April 1939 through June 30, 1940, a period of fourteen months, Bill and Hank still had one thousand eight hundred and eighty-three copies unsold.
Bill and Hank were once again dejected. Cartons upon cartons of books remained in stock in Cornwall, New York. Ed Blackwell would only release books that had already been paid for. Thus, unless the Foundation sold some from their stocks, they couldn't sell the remaining volumes in Cornwall. "You've got to have money to make money," they must have thought.
By this time, the New York contingent was having major doubts they would even get back their hard earned investment. They also began to doubt Bill.
In Akron, Doc was also feeling heat from Ohio members who had invested. Though these people were still attending the Oxford Group meetings at T. Henry and Clarace Williams' home, they had hoped on something more when the book came out. They weren't sure what that something was; but it would come, they believed.
Unbeknown to all something was about to happen. Something that would change the course of the history of the yet unnamed fellowship. That something would come the very next month.
He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.
The dreamers are the saviours of the world. [Ibidem p. 58]
By April of 1939, the Cleveland contingent had grown to eleven and then fourteen "rummies" and also included some of their spouses. All traveled back and forth to the T. Henry and Clarace Williams' home at Akron every Wednesday night.
Unlike New York which had only one Roman Catholic member, the majority of Cleveland contingent was Roman Catholic. And it was said the Catholic Church did not want its members participating in open confession. Clarence remembered that these Catholic members had been warned against confessing their sins, "One to another" without a confession to a priest. Clarence was told by these alcoholics that they were about to be excommunicated from their Roman Catholic Church if they continued to attend Oxford Group meetings.
In her book, Sister Ignatia: Angel of Alcoholics Anonymous, Mary C. Darrah wrote the following as to how these men were discouraged from attending the Oxford Group meetings:
This problem caused on-going discussion between Clarence and Doc. Clarence was insisting something had to be done. Doc, however, did not wish to be disrespectful to the very Oxford Group people who had saved his life and stated that nothing at all could, or would be done.
At around this same time, Clarence had arranged for Albert R. "Abby" G. to be placed in Akron City Hospital for his alcoholism. Because Clarence had to go to work the next day and couldn't take the day off, he asked Bill Wilson if Bill could drive Abby down from Cleveland to meet Doc at the hospital. As Clarence remembered it, Bill and Dorothy (Clarence's wife) "packed Abby into a car and hauled him off to meet Doc in Akron."
Consistent with the newly established custom in those early days, when a "rummy" was in the hospital, the members of the group not only visited with the patient, they also visited with his spouse and family members. They took the family member to the Oxford Group meeting in Akron while the alcoholic was still in the hospital.
One particular night, during Abby's hospitalization, as Clarence remembered it, Clarence was visiting with Grace G., Abby's wife. Clarence told Grace he was about to lose all of the Catholic members because they could no longer attend the Oxford Group meetings. Clarence told her their parish priest forbade it.
Clarence said to Grace: "Now that we've got this book here, the Twelve Steps and the Four Absolutes, there was no need to go to the Oxford Group any longer." But the problem was, Clarence told Grace, that Doc refused to leave the Oxford Group and Clarence was in a dilemma about disobeying his sponsor.
Clarence added that many of the early members didn't have jobs or were just beginning to pay off old drinking-induced debts. They couldn't afford to rent any hall or room in Cleveland in which to hold their own and separate meetings. Grace looked at him with a shocked expression on her face. She told Clarence that the Cleveland Group could meet at Abby and Grace's house, free of charge, for as long as they wanted to.
Abby was a prominent Patent Attorney in Cleveland. He represented people who held patents; and he held the rights to numerous patents himself. The G.'s had a very large house; and, ever since their children moved out, the house had seemed empty to them. They would both enjoy having the people around and it would be good to hear the sounds of laughter within its walls once again, Grace told Clarence. She also said that many meetings in their home would be a good way to help insure that her alcoholic husband would remain sober.
Grace G. was beginning to set the stage for a new meeting in Cleveland even while Abby was still "fogged up" and in the hospital. Clarence, through what he felt was an act of Divine intervention, had just found a home for his "boys."
Abby's story ("HE THOUGHT HE COULD DRINK LIKE A GENTLEMAN"), appears in the Second and Third Edition of the Big Book, and Abby recalled, in that story, some of his memories concerning Clarence. He felt Clarence was "touched." He also wrote he had felt that way because Clarence was always chasing him around the place to "fix" him. Clarence often related the story of how Abby was to come into what was to be A.A.
Clarence's sister-in-law, Thalia, a local beautician, was the wife of the man who had thrown Clarence out on the docks in New York. Grace G. was one of Thalia's best clients. One day, Grace appeared to "fall apart" in the beauty shop. In the midst of the hysterics, Grace told Thalia about Abby's drinking and about how it was driving them further apart. Grace told Thalia that Abby's being constantly drunk was going to drive her crazy. Grace continued telling Thalia that Abby's drinking was also hurting his law practice. Grace said that at fifty years old, Abby was acting like a helpless child when he was drunk. At this point, Grace began to sob uncontrollably. She couldn't go on with her story.
Thalia then took Grace into the back room and related to her the story of what had happened to Clarence and told her Clarence could "fix" her husband. Grace stopped crying. She thought that this could possibly be the answer to all of her prayers. She invited Thalia over to her home. She asked if Thalia could also bring Clarence with her so that he could speak with her husband about this "cure."
Abby disliked Clarence right from the start. As soon as Clarence and Thalia walked through the door of the G. home, Abby developed a definite attitude. Abby was a college graduate and a well known and formerly respected lawyer. Clarence was a high school dropout and a car salesperson. Clarence said of Abby, "He looked down his nose at me due to my lack of education."
Abby felt that, even though he was still drinking and was about to lose everything, including his marriage and his business, he was still smarter and had "more on the ball" than Clarence.
After being insulted and snubbed, much to the embarrassment of Grace, Thalia and Clarence left. They departed after about spending an hour at Abby's home trying to speak with Abby. Clarence and Thalia made their apologies and told Grace that if she ever needed them for anything she should call. Grace should call they said, even if Abby never decided to get sober. They told Grace they would pray continuously for the both of them. They further explained that, with prayer, Abby didn't stand a chance of staying with his old drinking ways.
When Clarence left the house he was not discouraged about Abby's eventual recovery or about the new meeting place. He had his family, the other members of the Cleveland contingent, and Grace on his side. He knew none of them would stop praying until Abby got better.
Clarence began to chase Abby all over town. He would often show up at the saloons where Abby frequented and "haul" him home. "We kept selling this guy. We went after him constantly," Clarence said. After pursuing this course of action for a period, Clarence almost felt like giving up. But he didn't.
During this period of time Bill Wilson was visiting Cleveland to promote the Big Book. Clarence convinced Bill to go talk with Abby. Clarence said Bill really "didn't want to go, but he did anyway." Clarence knew, from experience, that Bill could throw around a lot of four or five syllable words. He had "a different line of B.S. than I did," said Clarence.
While Bill and Clarence were at Abby's home, and during one particular conversation, Abby challenged Bill "to tell me something about A.A." Clarence recalled that Abby had actually challenged Bill to talk about "this cure, this group of anonymous rummies."
In his story Abby said, "I do recall one other thing: I wanted to know what this was that worked so many wonders, and hanging over the mantel was a picture of Gethsemane; and Bill pointed to it, and said, `There it is.' "
Abby then agreed to go to the hospital the next morning. Clarence had to go to work the next day; so Bill and Dorothy agreed to take him there. They then called Doc on the phone to make arrangements regarding the admission.
The next evening, while at Akron City Hospital, and after visiting with Abby, Clarence held yet another conversation with Doc about the Roman Catholic boys in the Cleveland contingent. Clarence related:
And he says, "Like what?"
And I says, "Well we'll see like what!"
At this point in time Clarence was almost fifteen months sober and was telling Doc, his sponsor what to do.
On the way back to Cleveland that night, Clarence and the Cleveland contingent stopped off for another of their critiques. Clarence informed them that Grace G. had offered them the use of her home as a meeting place. He then reviewed why they had to make a break with the Oxford Group so the Roman Catholic members could continue to attend and still stay on good terms with their church.
Clarence went on to say that since they had the book, the Twelve Steps, and even a name - the name from the book - they could do this. There was further discussion, some of it heated.
Even though a few of those present disagreed, the majority was for Clarence's idea. Lloyd T., Charlie J. and Bill J. were the most outspoken against Clarence's idea; and they refused to budge from their position. Even when the break did finally come, these three still considered themselves Oxford Group members. Yet all, except for Bill J., eventually left the Oxford Group and came into A.A.
On Wednesday, May 10, 1939, the Clevelander's went to the Oxford Group meeting at T. Henry and Clarace Williams' home. At the end of the meeting, Clarence announced that this would be "the last time the Cleveland contingent would be down to the Oxford Group as a whole."
He announced the Cleveland Group was going to meet the following night, May 11th. He said, "We're gonna start our own group in Cleveland." He told the Akron fellowship, "This is not gonna be an Oxford Group. It's gonna be known as Alcoholics Anonymous. We're taking the name from the book; and only alcoholics and their families are welcome. Nobody else." He then told all present where the new group - the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting - was going to meet. Clarence announced "We're gonna meet at 2345 Stillman Road, Cleveland Heights at Al and Grace G.'s home."
Doc stood up and said, "You can't do this."
Clarence replied, "There's nothing to talk about."
The meeting almost turned into a riot as the Cleveland Group got up as a whole and walked out. But not as much of a riot as the one which occurred the next day in Cleveland.