Quotable Quotes for A.A. History Lovers

Dick B.


Dale Mitchel, who wrote the biography of Bill Wilson’s doctor, William D. Silkworth, M.D.,



During his third visit to Towns Hospital, Bill [Wilson] had a discussion with Dr. Silkworth on the subject of the “Great Physician.” . . . . In fact, Bill Wilson himself wrote that he had thought about this discussion before he decided to check himself into Towns for the last time. . . . Wilson wrote: “Alcoholism took longer to kill, but the result was the same. Yes, if there was any Great Physician that could cure the alcohol sickness, I’d better find him now, at once” See Dale Mitchel, Silkworth The Little Doctor Who Loved Drunks: The Biography of William Duncan Silkworth, M.D. (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2002), 44.


Silkworth has not been given the appropriate credit for his position on a spiritual conversion, particularly as it may relate to true Christian benefits. Several sources, including Norman Vincent Peale in his book The Positive Power of Jesus Christ, agree that it was Dr. Silkworth who used the term “The Great Physician” to explain the need in recovery for a relationship with Jesus Christ. If true, this reference to Jesus has all but been eliminated from Alcoholics Anonymous history. In the formation of A.A., Wilson initially insisted on references to God and Jesus, as well as the Great Physician. See Mitchel, Silkworth, 50.


Bill Wilson said: “Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people” See Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., page 191.


Dr. Bob Smith said: “It is a most wonderful blessing to be relieved of the terrible curse with which I was afflicted. . . . Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!” Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., pages 180-81.


A.A. Number Three Bill Dotson said: “That sentence, ‘The Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep telling people about it,’ has been a sort of golden text for the A.A. program and for me.” Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., page 191.


Mitchell K., who wrote a biography of Clarence H. Snyder {who founded A.A. in Cleveland in 1939), stated: “Clarence was ‘called on the carpet’ numerous times for using of his full name wherever he went. Some of his programs and flyers said, ‘Clarence Snyder of Alcoholics Anonymous will speak on this new cure for alcoholism.’ These even listed Clarence’s place of work so people could contact him.” See Mitchell K., How It Worked: The Story of Clarence H. Snyder and the Early Days of Alcoholics Anonymous in Cleveland, Ohio (NY: Washingtonville, AA Big Book Study Group, 1999), 171.


www.dickb.com; dickb@dickb.com




Dick B. is a writer, historian, retired attorney, Bible student, CDAAC, and an active and recovered A.A. member. He has published 42 titles and over 560 articles on A.A. History and the Christian Recovery Movement.

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