Bill Wilson

by Presley Johnson from United States

118408Bill WilsonIntoActionTreatment.comPresley Johnson

Mrs. Ast

Comp 1


Final Research Paper

Who is Bill Wilson, and what importance does he have to our nation, and others? William Griffith Wilson, also known as Bill Wilson, eventually created a system to help others known as Alcoholics Anonymous, which changed the world as we know it, helping people around the globe treat and cure their alcohol addiction. November 26th, 1895, in East Dorset, Vermont to his parents, Bill was born to two people known as Emily Griffith, also known as Née Griffith, and Gilman Barrows Wilson. Bill was born at his grandparent’s bar, the Mount Aeolus Inn and Tavern. Early on in his life, Bill’s parents left him and his sister after having both Bill turned eleven years old. Bill’s mother went off to study courses in the medical field, Osteopathic Medicine. (Stepping Stones Foundation)(1) 

In 1913, Bill met the love of his life, Lois Burnham. Two years following, Bill and Lois got engaged to each-other. Soon after, Bill attended college at Norwich University. His education at Norwich prepared him for World War I. (Stepping Stones Foundation)(2) In 1916, William Griffith Wilson was instated into the Vermont National Guard, where he was instated by the government to serve in the armed forces. In 1918, Bill and Lois finally married on January 24th in the Swedenborgen Church in Brooklyn Heights, just before he shipped out overseas in the military. (Stepping Stones Foundation)(2) 

Bill would eventually return from overseas to New York, and his wife. He fell deep into his alcoholism in the 1920s, right after moving in with Lois’ parents. At this time, Bill and all of his friends and family deemed him to be hopeless, and incurable. “Bill was visited in November 1934 by his old friend Ebby, who Bill knew to be a severe alcoholic but who was miraculously sober. Ebby told Bill that he had stopped drinking through his association with the Oxford Group, a spiritual fellowship, and that Bill also could get sober with the help of the group.” (Stepping Stones Foundation, pg. 1 sec. 3) 

The spiritual group, also known as the Oxford Group, was highly popular in the early 1900’s. Nobody was paid, nobody owed any money, it was a free service to all. Bill tried to offer Ebby a gin, and pineapple juice, but Ebby kindly refused, and told Bill that he no longer touched alcohol, “I’ve got religion.” (Stepping Stones Foundation, pg. 1 sec. 3) 

Although Bill was highly tempted by Ebby’s offer to join the Oxford Group, he declined because he did not believe in certain practices of religion, and other religious concepts that the group believed in. In 1933, Bill was admitted into a hospital for drug and alcohol related addictions in New York, New York. In this hospital, Bill met a gentleman by the name of Dr. William D. Silkworth, who believed that alcoholism was caused by not only a physical level, but a mentality level as well. This eventually led to Bill’s hope to be cured being crushed. Bill eventually went back to the hospital in 1934, where his life was changed forever. He had an amazing and life-changing experience that would effect his immediate and long-term future. In 1934, false hope was recognized while Bill and Lois were at Strongs’ Farm. The first day, Bill went fishing and then drank some alcohol. He used the money that was initially intended for the dentist to buy it. A few weeks later, Bill had gotten so drunk that he would start talking to Lois about all of the regret and remorse he felt about putting her through pain and causing her problems while being intoxicated. This apology originated from the fact that Bill didn’t help Lois whatsoever during her two ectopic pregnancies, because he was so drunk all of the time, and then also because her mother had died during this time as well. A little later, Lois had a ligament injury on Strongs’ farm, and was laid up for three weeks. Bill stayed in the entire time with Lois, helping her, unfortunately he was also intoxicated the entire time. Eventually, Bill had a dental surgery, which caused him to stay on the farm. Luckily, the farm had no alcohol, so he was forced to stay sober.(Cheever, Susan) 

In June, when the Strongs’ moved to Greenfield, Bill and Lois moved into a small tent in the yard of the Strongs’ new home. Finally, when July came around, the Wilsons moved back to New York, and Bill began searching for a job, even though Lois had already found one as soon as they arrived. Once Bill found a job in a furniture department of a retail store, he had to face the responsibilities of real life again, and started drinking. A little after, Bill re-admitted to the Towns Hospital. “This time, though, Silkworth seemed to be just as discouraged as the Wilsons were, and Bill left Towns with none of the confidence of his earlier stay. Convinced that nothing could keep him sober, he drank again almost immediately.” (Francis Hartigan, pg. 89) 

This was another one of Bill’s drinking binges, he would be intoxicated more of the time than not. His wife even took a mattress to the bottom of the window just in case he decided to jump out of it. Over and over, Bill would be encouraged and inspired by things to help him quit drinking. Through withdrawal symptoms, and fear in him-self, he would hardly be more than a day sober before it started again. This would happen every few days, or every few weeks. After his third trip to the Towns Hospital, the doctor refused to give Bill a reason for why he drank. Bill left more afraid and frightened than ever before. He couldn’t seem to help or fix his alcohol addiction. Luckily, this fear kept him sober for several months until early November. 

Eventually, the drinking became a problem again. On November 11, 1934, the stock market crashed, and Bill decided to play golf, while Lois went to work. He met a man on the bus, and reminisced about the rifle he was carrying, because it reminded him of his own as a child. Bill eventually convinced the other person on the bus to allow him to come with him to the firing range, where they could initiate in target practice. Moments later, the bus they were on was rear-ended by another bus.(Cheever, Susan) 

The damage to both buses were bad enough they would have to wait a while for another to arrive. The man from the bus suggested they visit a local bar that was located not very far away from them. Even though the man ordered alcohol, Bill didn’t. The man seemed confused as to why Bill didn’t order anything alcohol related. Silkworth’s drinking theory was the only thing he could talk about. At this time, the bartender decided to offer a free drink to both Bill, and his new found friend. Of course, Bill drank the alcohol as quickly as possible. His new friend was astonished, after all of the things Bill was saying to him just a few moments earlier, went out of the window. (Cheever, Susan) 

At five AM, Bill finally made his way home. Even though he was drunk, Bill managed to make it into his home, but then fell and suffered a severe gash on the top of his head. Luckily, his wife, Lois, happened to be awake at the time, and found Bill face down on the floor, bleeding everywhere. This injury forced Bill to drink even more than before, causing him to become a severe alcoholic again. (Cheever, Susan) While being aided by his towns’ psychiatrist, he asked for an anonymous opinion about his belief of alcoholism being a physical and mental addiction, on his book that he wanted to write, Alcoholics Anonymous. Many years later, the idea of this became widely accepted by the general population, and Silkworth eventually let his name be used for the opinion. (Wilson, Bill) 

This helped Bill stay sober for a little over six months. Eventually, a few friends came around. The men told Bill about a company in Akron, Ohio, that was ready for a hostile takeover. Bill could only imagine it, the thought of not having to worry about his financial issues anymore; he and Lois would be taken care of for good.(Stepping Stones Foundation)(4) Bill attended the Oxford Group, only to help his wife stay calm and feel better about Bill trying to become sober. Eventually, Bill met a man named Dr. Bob, who was an Akron surgeon, and was also a part of the Oxford Group. He wanted almost nothing to do with a person who stated that they had a cure for alcoholism. Bob and Bill sat alone in a room for what was going to be a quick talk, and turned out to be completely different, and much longer. The conversation that Bill and Bob had took around five hours. In the coming months, Bill and Bob worked together to help others get sober, and find their “cure” for alcoholism. 

Both Bob, and Bill were currently cured until Dr. Bob decided to have a drink after a medical conference. His last drink was on June 10th, 1935, which is also the exact founding date of Alcoholics Anonymous. After Bill’s return to Brooklyn, the alcoholics that normally participated in the Oxford Group, to help their own fellowship and growth, attended their new group, that focused on alcoholics. “The cornerstone of AA is the Twelve Steps, a spiritual program of recovery, written by Bill who expanded it from the basic six tenets of the Oxford Group. Bill would later write the Twelve Traditions, a guide for fellowship members on how to avoid the pitfalls to which other groups had succumbed.” (Stepping Stones Foundation) (4) In the end, Bill took his last drink at the age of forty. Bill remained sober for the rest of his life, and used most of him time creating Alcoholics Anonymous, and making it a better program for all. Soon after this, Bill wrote the book known as, “The Big Book,” which would eventually name the group of Alcoholics Anonymous, “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.” (Stepping Stones Foundation) (4) 

On January 24th, 1971, Bill was rushed in his private jet to Miami, where he attended the Miami Heart Institute, to find a cure for his emphysema. Unfortunately, Bill never received the treatment he needed to get better, and died later that day. (Stepping Stones Foundation) (5)












Works Cited

K, Bob, et al. “Bill Wilson and Other Women.” AA Agnostica, Bob K, 2014,

Hartigan, Francis. Bill W. A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson

October 12, 2001

Stepping, Stone Foundation. “The Historic Home of Bill and Lois Wilson.” Bill's Story, Stepping Stones Foundation., 2012,

Cheever, Susan. Bill Wilson: His Life and the Creation of Alcoholics Anonymous. Simon and Schuster, 2005,

Wilson, Bill. Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book. 1992.

K, Bob. Key Players in AA History. 1st version, 1st ed., vol. 1, BookBaby, 2015,


Cheever, Susan. My Name is Bill: Bill Wilson - His Life and the Creation of Alcoholics Anonymous. Simon & Schuster 2004


Hartigan, Francis. Bill W: A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Co-Founder Bill Wilson. St. Martins Griffin, 2001.


Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age: A Brief History of AA. Alcoholics Anonymous, World Services. 1957


Page created on 11/29/2017 2:55:28 PM

Last edited 11/29/2017 3:59:11 PM

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