"To show other alcoholics PRECISELY HOW
WE HAVE RECOVERED is the main purpose of this book."
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, (New
York: Works Publishing Company., 1939) p. vii
Its Beginnings, and the Writing Of
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.
Milton A. Maxwell, Ph.D., The
Washingtonian Movement (From a private paper published
by the State College of Washington. Pullman, Washington)
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.
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."
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
one million alcoholics (Rockefeller Foundation)
least a million non alcoholics that have definite alcoholic
employer of 100 or more people
that take an academic interest
hundred & ten thousand ministers
hundred sixty-nine thousand physicians
total would be well over three million prospects"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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].
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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."
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.
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.
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
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.
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,
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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?"
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.
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.
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.
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
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'?"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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."
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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."
and Answers" were as follows:
question is often asked- where does the money come from this
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)
I fail if I cannot keep my conduct up to these highest standards?
happens when an alcoholic has a sexual relapse?
is so much talk about a religious experience- what is it?
eight of Hank's document, in the "Observations" section, there
is something of an answer to the "religious" question. Hank
"One of the most talked about things among us is a religious
experience. I believe that this is incomprehensible to most
people. Simple & meaning words to us- but meaningless to
most of the people that we are trying to get this over to.-
In my mind religious experience- religion- etc.- should not
be brought in. We are actually unreligious- but we are trying
to be helpful- we have learned to be quiet- to be more truthful-
to be more honest- to try to be more unselfish- to make the
other fellows troubles- our troubles- and by following four
steps we most of us have a religious experience. The fellowship-
the unselfishness- appeals to us.
if we are off track. A very good merchandising procedure is to
find out why people do not buy our products- it is good
reasoning to find out WHY- I am fearfully afraid that we are emphasizing
religious experience when actually that is something that follows
as a result of 1-2-3-4. In my mind the question is not particularly
the strength of the experience as much as the improvement over
what we were."
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
was neither moved nor impressed with these arguments. But there
were two fractions, each unwilling to move from its position
on this issue.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
and Hank investigated cost factors, production, publicity, and
distribution. Hank wrote, in his outline for the book, that
the title page should read:
Profit Organization* for the promotion of cure and understanding
* different from the Prospectus
"One Hundred Men Corporation",
where profits would go to
on to suggest the following publicity:
"Newspapers - When book is nearly ready to leave the presses
a short mat article should be sent out to the 12,285 newspapers
in the U.S. This article would briefly cover the work as it
has gone to date. Case histories would be covered. - It possibly
would be a brief case history of the work and announcement of
the book. At least four news bulletins should be published at
weekly intervals, ahead of the book."