Orson Hyde is numbered among the great leaders of early Utah history. Raised as an orphan in poverty and self educated, he later filled many positions in Utah with distinction and success. He was a convincing and eloquent orator with a compelling desire to excel. As a Mormon apostle he became one of the most scholarly leaders in pioneer times. His boldness and energy frequently made him the subject of criticism from his superiors. In 1838 he was excommunicated from the church, but after making sincere reconciliation he was reinstated the next year.
He kept no diary or journal during the Utah period, but his voluminous letters, reports, and speeches as well as the comments of others have left a veritable paper trail up to the time of his death.
He served forty-three years as a Mormon apostle, twenty-eight years of which were as president of the Quorum of the Twelve. In addition to his literary contributions, he was a farmer, supervisor of Utah immigration, wagon-train master, irrigation specialist, founder of new Utah settlements, railroad planner, sawmill operator, participant in the Utah War councils, regent of the University of Deseret, legislator, newspaper editor, Indian fighter, peacemaker, lawyer, judge, and statesman. Few men can exceed his list of accomplishments.