Archives: Bill Wilson’s 1st Talk In Detroit

Bill Wilson’s 1st Talk In Detroit

“Ex-Drunks Toast Freedom with Jokes And Ginger Ale”-Detroit News      “Religious Cure For Alcoholism Told by Wilson”-Detroit Free Press

Bill G. Wilson, Co-founder of AA

“Mix science and religion, then throw in a dash of personal experience and you have the formula to ‘Alcoholics anonymous,’ according to William ‘Bill’ Wilson, co-founder of the nationwide organization which to date has reclaimed more than 5000 hopeless alcoholics from their obsession.”

“I started this work to keep myself sober,’ Wilson said as he addressed 300 Detroit members and friends of the organization at the local headquarters, 4242 Cass Ave (Central Group).”

Detroit Free Press

” The Detroit chapter founded less than two years ago, now has 250 members. Anyone can become a member who will admit that he has the ‘alcoholic illness and he honestly wishes to be rid of it.” On August 3, 1941, the Detroit Free Press ran an article introducing A.A. to Detroit and stating there were approximately 100 members at the local chapter, a 250% increase in two months.

“Of the 300 persons at the meeting, about 100 were women, but the Detroit chapter has only six women members. The others were visitors who came with husbands, or sons, or fathers.”

Detroit News Pg 1

In the Detroit Free Press, they rereferred to Bill as, “William ‘Bill’ Wilson.” The Detroit News referred to him as, “Mr. X, a New York Stockbroker.” Keep in mind the Twelve Traditions had not yet been established.

“Wilson told how seven years ago, a hopeless alcoholic, he was given up by physicians. Through a friend (Ebby Thatcher), also an alcoholic, recently cured, he defeated the obsession and since has devoted his life to spreading the plan.”

Detroit News Pg 2

“If we will examine what modern psychiatry tells us,’ he said, ‘ and compare it to what religion has been telling us for centuries, we will see that they are much alike, merely employing different terminology. The alcoholics anonymous can take these plans and add to them his own experience.”

“Having encountered the same experiences as the man with whom he is dealing, he can breakdown the wall of misunderstanding and join a bond of common interest.”

“The members enjoy their new freedom and make a point of joking about liquor. They were drinking ginger ale Wednesday night, meanwhile smilingly that it was spiked.”

“One man arrived at the meeting ‘half a seas over.’ It was explained that he was a ‘new acquisition. The alcoholics anonymous cast furtive glances at the stranger although inquiring, ‘Are you a drunk too, or did you just come to look at us.”

“The movement, as explained by Mr. X, is essentially religious. Science can explain the workings of the brain as a chemical reaction, but it cannot explain away personality,’ he declared. ‘That part of the brain may be close to the greater mind which is God.’ He suggested that yielding to the religious impulse is an essential part of the remedy for alcoholism.”


  • References: Detroit Free Press; Detroit News; Detroit Main Public Library.
  • © 2013 by Bill T, Archivist, General Service of Southeastern Michigan, Area 33
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  • Posted: 2020/10/04