On This Day: June 10, 1935
Alcoholics Anonymous Founded
On June 10, 1935, Bill Wilson and his friend Dr. Robert Smith set out to find the best way to reform alcoholics, and Alcoholics Anonymous was born.
Bill Wilson, a stockbroker from New York, had success battling his alcoholism with the help of the Oxford Group, a national organization founded by Lutheran minister Dr. Frank Buchman that promoted waiting for divine guidance in every aspect of life. He attempted to help other alcoholics, but none of them were able to become sober.
Wilson explained how he was able to become sober, which had a profound impression on Smith. They developed an approach to remaining sober through the personal support of other alcoholics. Seiberling insisted on emphasizing religion, even if it made certain alcoholics less likely to join.
“Well, we’re not out to please the alcoholics,” she reasoned. “They have been pleasing themselves all these years. We are out to please God. … God is your only source of Power.”
On June 10, outside an Akron hospital, Smith drank a beer to steady his hands for surgery; it would be the last drink he ever had.
In 1935, a second group of alcoholics formed in New York followed by a third group in Cleveland in 1939. Through the group, Wilson “emphasized that alcoholism was a malady of mind, emotions and body,” according to A.A.
In 1939, the group published its textbook, “
.” Written by Wilson, the book explained the group’s philosophy, including the now well-known 12 steps of recovery.
Alcoholics Anonymous continued to grow, spreading across the United States and Canada. According to the A.A. Web site, by 1950, there were 100,000 recovered alcoholics worldwide. Also in 1950, A.A. held its first international convention in Cleveland.