The King Follett Discourse: A Newly Amalgamated Text

Articles
Author: Stan Larson
Journal: 18:2

The King Follett Discourse of April 7, 1844, perhaps the most significant sermon delivered by the Prophet Joseph Smith, was preserved in manuscript form by Thomas Bullock, William Clayton, Willard Richards, and Wilford Woodruff. Though a version of this sermon was published only four months later in the Times and Seasons, the version in general use today is an “amalgamation” made in 1855 by Jonathan Grimshaw.

Since the Grimshaw amalgamation was made over eleven years after the discourse was given, there may be some concern about the questionable process of expanding or “fleshing out” the text, as well as the propriety of eliminating material from the original manuscript accounts. From a historical point of view, it is preferable to use primary sources and not reminiscences of over a decade later. This article presents a new amalgamation of the King Follett Discourse created by the following procedure. The account of Thomas Bullock was used as the basic running text. William Clayton’s version was then superimposed, adding a number of refinements such as extra clauses and clearer development of ideas.

Afterwards, the parts recorded by Willard Richards were compared with what had already been developed; generally the Richards account merely confirmed various parts, though it added a number of new elements also. Finally, the Wilford Woodruff account was considered, and its new material was added, with the understanding that his material may not be as likely to represent the words actually spoken by Joseph Smith, though the basic meaning would likely be preserved.