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Rockefeller Dinner Feb 1940 - What really happened
Did the millionaires walk out and gave no money?

Allegedly "Rockefeller obliged us. Continuing, he said, “Gentlemen, you can all see that this is a work of good will. Its power lies in the fact that one member carries the good message to the next, without any thought of financial income or reward. Therefore, it is our belief that Alcoholics Anonymous should be self-supporting so far as money is concerned. It needs only our good will.” Whereupon the guests clapped lustily, and after cordial handshakes and good-bys all around, the whole  billion dollars’ worth of them walked out the door.

First, here is the 'official' report by Bill Wilson. Rockefeller's own report is here. Compare yourselves and watch out for the difference. 

The Big Book relates in the Foreword  pg xviii  "In the spring of 1940, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. gave a dinner for many of his friends to which he invited A.A. members to tell their stories. News of this got on the world wires; inquiries poured in again and many people went to the bookstores to get the book "Alcoholics Anonymous." See related Newspaper reports here.

            184 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS COMES OF AGE



Nelson Rockefeller. Directly in front of me was Wendell Willkie.

The dinner was squab on toast. For a bunch of ex-drunks, we were

doing remarkably well. We wondered how Mr. Rockefeller had dared

to go so far out on a limb for an obscure and struggling fellowship of

alcoholics.



After dinner Mr. Nelson Rockefeller rose to his feet. He expressed

his father’s regret for being unable to attend. He told how deeply

Mr. John D., Jr., had been affected by his experience with this society

of Alcoholics Anonymous. Promising a highly interesting evening,

Nelson Rockefeller began to introduce the speakers. Dr. Fosdick gave

us a most wonderful testimonial and expressed complete confidence in

our future. Dr. Kennedy warmly endorsed us and read a letter of protest

he had written to the Journal of the American Medical Association

because in their review of the book Alcoholics Anonymous they

had somewhat ridiculed us. Dr. Bob spoke briefly, and I gave a rapid

account of my own experience as a drinker, my recovery, and the subsequent

history of our fellowship. As we watched the faces of the

guests, it was evident that we had captured their sympathetic interest.

Great influence and great wealth were soon to be at our disposal.

Weariness and worry were to be things of the past.



Finally the big moment came. Mr. Nelson Rockefeller, visibly

moved, got to his feet once more. On behalf of his father he thanked

us all for coming. He reiterated that few more affecting things than

Alcoholics Anonymous had ever crossed his father’s life. His father

would be delighted, Nelson said, to know how many guests had

availed themselves of the chance to see the beginnings of this most

promising adventure of Alcoholics Anonymous.



Breathlessly we waited for the climax - the matter of money. Nelson

Rockefeller obliged us. Continuing, he said, “Gentlemen, you can all

see that this is a work of good will. Its power lies in the fact that one

member carries the good message to the next, without any thought of

financial income or reward. Therefore, it is our belief that Alcoholics

Anonymous should be self-supporting so far as money is concerned.

It needs only our good will.” Whereupon the guests clapped lustily,

and after cordial handshakes and good-bys all around, the whole 

billion dollars’ worth of them walked out the door.



We were dazed. Why had Mr. Rockefeller gone to all that trouble-just

for this? We simply could not figure it out. But a few days later

we began to see, and as time passes Alcoholics Anonymous sees ever

more clearly what he meant and what he did.



Dick Richardson had transcripts of all the talks that had been

made at the dinner, and he asked me to condense and edit them. This

really meant editing Dr. Bob and me, for who would edit Dr. Harry

Emerson Fosdick and Dr. Foster Kennedy? Dick said that Mr.

Rockefeller wanted to buy 400 books, and we let him have them at a

whopping discount, too: one dollar each. He wanted to send one to

every guest on the dinner list, along with a pamphlet containing 

the talks given at the dinner.

And here is said pamphlet for your inspection. 

download the whole pamphlet here dinner.pdf 492kB   transscript dinner_capture.pdf 150kB

 

Newspaper articles

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