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aa founding moments

Rowland Hazard was the first in the chain of events leading to AA founding moments of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. In attempt to receive a psychological release from his chronic alcoholism, he boarded an ocean liner, in 1926, bound for Zurich, Switzerland hoping to find a method of release from the famous Dr. Carl Jung.

But, surprisingly, the great doctor had no psychological advice for him—he was told that his problem was not treatable from a medical standpoint. The cost of transportation and lodging, plus the very expensive doctor’s fee, amounted to about $50,000 in today’s money. What a bummer!

However, Rowland received information much more important than money—an idea that now reins as the solution for all followers of the AA program of action—his only solution was to undergo a vital spiritual experience! (p. 27) Although Rowland did not remain continually sober, we AA’s are benefiting from it today. First  AA founding moment!

Ebby Thacher was in deep chicken-fat trouble for drunkenly shooting pigeons in a very elegant neighborhood of Manchester, Vermont. This was his third arrest and he faced six months in Windsor Prison or Brattleboro Asylum, but the judge told him if he came to court sober the following Monday, he would be released to the guardianship of an Oxford Group member.

Ebby was not a religious man, but he went home, gave his last several bottles of Ballantine Ale to his neighbor and prayed to God, “as he had never prayed before.” An amazing release took place immediately and he remained sober for over two years and seven months. Second AA founding moment.

Back to court the following Monday, Rowland Hazard became his Oxford Group mentor, teaching Ebby the Oxford Group’s spiritual program of action and suggesting that Ebby reside in Calvary Mission in lower Manhattan, so as to help other inebriates. This led Ebby to carry his newly found message to Bill Wilson (p. 9) resulting in Bill also having a spiritual experience which kept him sober the rest of his life. Third AA founding moment.

Five months later Bill carried the same message to Dr. Bob Smith, in Akron, Ohio, and eventually he had a personality change sufficient to bring about recovery—he never drank again. Fourth founding moment! Thank God for this overlapping sequence of events!

By Bob S. Richmond, IN

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the AA Cleveland District Office.