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A Narrative Timeline Of AA History

Public Version vApril 04'

1842 to 1880

A Narrative Timeline Of AA History – 1774 to 2003

1842

Feb 22, Abraham Lincoln spoke to the Springfield, IL Washingtonians. He praised the movement and criticized earlier temperance movements that defined the alcoholic as incorrigible: “I believe if we take habitual drunkards as a class, their heads and their hearts will bear an advantageous comparison with those of any other class. There seems ever to have been proneness in the brilliant and warm-blooded to fall into this vice.” (SD 9, GSO) Lincoln is also quoted as saying that intoxicating liquor was “used by everybody, repudiated by nobody” and that it came forth in society “like the Egyptian angel of death, commissioned to slay if not the first, the fairest born in every family.” (www Encarta)

1843

Mid-to-end, the Washingtonian movement peaked after having reached all major areas of the US. Estimates of its membership vary and are contradictory. The sole requirement for membership was to sign a “total abstinence pledge.” Members included teetotalers, temperance advocates, a large segment of adolescents (under 15) and drinkers of various types whose numbers far exceeded that of the “drunkards.” A reliable estimate of the number of alcoholics in the mix is impossible to derive. Over the lifetime of the movement, hundreds of thousands signed pledges but the number of rehabilitated alcoholics was likely under 150,000. (SD 10, www Milton Maxwell paper)

1847

Estimate of when the Washingtonians “spent its force.” The society originally favored “moral suasion” to achieve reformation of the alcoholic through abstinence. However, its membership evolved to consist primarily of non-alcoholic temperance advocates. As a result, sentiments shifted away from reformation of the alcoholic to pursuit of a legal means to prohibit alcohol. Washingtonian practices came to be viewed as outmoded and interest waned. When the novelty and emotional appeal of the Washingtonians became outmoded, they faded from the scene. AACOA 125 cites issues such as religion, politics and abolition of slavery as root causes of the decline. While there are incidents of this, these factors do not appear to be substantively relevant. The primary reasons for the Washingtonians’ demise remain shrouded in history. One factor, however, was very apparent: they had departed significantly from their original intended purpose and composition. (SD 8-14, 12&12 178-179, AACOA 124-125, PIO 366-367, www Milton Maxwell paper)

1849

Swedish physician Magnus Huss, coined the word alcoholism in his writings titled Alcoholismus Chronicus (Chronic Alcoholism) and Chronische Alkohols Krankheit (Chronic Alcohol-Sickness) It took nearly a century for Dr Huss’ new term, and the accompanying term alcoholic to achieve widespread usage in America (GB 167-168, SD xiv)

1852

The term Skid Row derived from a section of Seattle, WA. A sawmill built in Pioneer Square near Puget Sound used skids (tracks of peeled logs) to get the timber to the mill. The area became home to vagrants and destitute alcoholics. It was known first as “Skid Road” and later as “Skid Row.” (SD 72)

1862

Charles B. Towns was born on a small farm in central GA. (RAA 84)

1864

Bill Wilson’s great uncle Waldow Barrows was killed in the Civil War Battle of the Wilderness. (PIO 54)

1865

Bill W’s grandparents William C Wilson and Helen Barrows were married. (RAA 136)

1870

Bill W’s father, Gilman (Gilly) Barrows Wilson, and mother, Emily Griffith, were born. (BW-RT 12)

1872

Oct, Jerry McAuley opened the Water St Mission in the notorious Fourth Ward of NYC. It marked the beginning of the urban mission movement. The movement, which spread across America by the Salvation Army, focused its message to the Skid Row alcoholic. When McAuley passed away (in 1884) S H Hadley succeeded him. Hadley’s example of recovery from alcoholism was cited in William James’ book The Varieties of Religious Experience. Hadley’s son, Harry, later collaborated with Rev Sam Shoemaker to establish a rescue mission at Calvary Episcopal Church in NYC. (SD 74-77, EBBY 65)

1873

Jul 22, William Duncan Silkworth was born in Brooklyn, NY to Isabelle Duncan and William Silkworth Sr. (SW 3)

1878

Jun 4, Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman was born in Pennsburg, PA. (RAA 114, NW 32)

1879

Aug 8, Robert Holbrook Smith was born in St Johnsbury, VT to Judge and Mrs Walter Perrin Smith. Note: Bob had a much older foster sister, Amanda [Northrupp], who became a history professor at Hunter College, NY. (DBGO 9, 12, 14, CH 2, NG 29-30)


A Narrative Timeline Of AA History – 1774 to 2003

 
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