Bill W.’s first Steps only numbered six, and were pretty obviously ripped off from Frank Buchman’s six steps in his Oxford Group.
- Complete deflation.
- Dependence and guidance from a Higher Power.
- Moral inventory.
- Continued work with other alcoholics.
– from “He Sold Himself Short” from Alcoholics Anonymous, via Orange Papers
Supposedly under the divine guidance of Frank Buchman’s intervening God, Bill Wilson divided these steps into twelve. Each of the original six steps that Bill, Dr. Bob and other alcoholic members of the Oxford Group claimed they had used to quit drinking was made redundant. We will delve into those steps in an upcoming post. For now I want to focus on Bill’s plagiarism.
Bill Wilson and other current and former members of the “Alcoholic Squad” of Oxford Group set out in 1938 to write the Alcoholics Anonymous, more commonly known as the Big Book. It was to be the Bible of their new old religion. They formed the 100 Man Corporation, its name reference to the claim they’d saved 100 alcoholics (by recruiting them to the Oxford Group), to publish this tome and opened an office for Bill to work from.
Thirty-two people contributed to the work, under promises the copyright would be owned by the group. On April 10, 1939 Bill Wilson filed as sole copyright owner of their collective efforts. Some simply split with AA while others took Wilson to court, but ultimately he won. He would live off the book sales for the remaining three decades of his life. (To the extent his wife Lois approved of his religious mania, surely this new profitability was her reason.)
Bill Wilson stole from the fellow alcoholics he claimed responsibility for saving. He mooched off Oxford Group members in Akron while starting his branch within the cult. He let his wife support him on those oh so competitive 1930s era women’s wages and invited alcoholics into her home to steal from her. And he stole Frank Buchman’s quack religion too. Alcoholics Anonymous is just stolen Oxford Group beliefs.