Gratitude was the theme of this 1948 talk from AA co-founder Bill Wilson, speaking at the Iowa State Convention in Des Moines. AA had 70,000 members in 28 countries at this point.

He kicks things off by calling Alcoholics Anonymous a “wholesale miracle of regeneration” and thanking its friends in science, medicine, religion and the press. “Someone once said, fittingly enough, that Alcoholics Anonymous is like a farmer’s three-legged milk stool,” Bill says. “We might suppose one leg to be medicine, another religion, and the third our own experience in drinking and recovery. And were we take out one of those legs, it would fall down immediately.”

After introducing his wife Lois and praising all the “fathers, mothers, wives and sweethearts” who stood by the alcoholic in their lives, he congratulates Judge Ray Harrison, founder of AA in Iowa, on his sobriety anniversary.

Bill covers a lot of ground in this 73-minute-long talk, including the childish grandiosity from which most alcoholics suffer, his propensity for depression, and the beginning of his drinking problem in New York and his early attempts at finding a solution.

Of course, no talk about the beginnings of AA would be complete without the story of Ebby, his first meeting with Dr. Bob and the “carry the message” idea. Listen to this historical talk by Bill Wilson.

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