Amasa Mason Lyman, Mormon Apostle and Apostate

A Study in Dedication

The early history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is filled with fascinating characters, but few led a more tumultuous life than Amasa Lyman. Though he has been largely forgotten, this new biography provides a unique and revealing account of the early days of Mormonism and Lyman’s role in creating that history. He served as a missionary in the “burned-over” district of upstate New York and in Ohio before moving to Kirtland, where he suffered in the infant church’s financial crisis. He participated in the conflicts with hostile Missourians and emigrated to Nauvoo, Illinois. There, he became a leader in the church and a close associate of Joseph Smith. Lyman then led a company of pioneers across Iowa to Winter Quarters and on to the Salt Lake Valley. He was sent to the California gold fields and led the colonization of San Bernardino, where he became its first mayor, before returning to Utah, and he traveled to Europe as head of the church’s European missions.

Having spent more than thirty years in the service of his church, Lyman began to move away from its teachings after a series of conflicts with its second leader, Brigham Young. Lyman was one of the first Mormons to criticize the Mountain Meadows Massacre, which led to his dismissal as an apostle. He was excommunicated in 1870 and became one of the foremost spokesmen of the Godbeite Church of Zion movement before his death in 1877. Author Edward Leo Lyman chronicles Amasa Lyman’s life and interactions with Mormon history with an honesty true to his ancestor’s freethinking spirit.

Winner of the Francis Armstrong Madsen Best Utah History Book Award from the Utah Division of State History. 

Edward Leo Lyman taught history at North High School, Victor Valley College, California Polytechnic University at Pomona, and California State University, San Bernardino. He is the author of Political Deliverance: The Mormon Quest for Utah Statehood and San Bernardino: The Rise and Fall of a California Community.

Table of Contents:

1. Development of a Disciple, 1832–1837
2. The Emergence of a Young Church Leader—and Friend of the Prophet
3. Loss of the Prophet and Transition to New Leadership in Nauvoo
4. Travel and Settlement Planting in the West, amid Further Adaptations in Church Governance
5. Supporting Leadership on the Plains, at Salt Lake City, and Missions to California, 1848–1851
6. San Bernadino: A Tribute to Amasa's Leadership
7. The Utah War and Lyman's Ministry in Southern Utah, 1857–1860
8. European Mission and Doctrinal Developments
9. Sidelined: Lyman's Gradually Diminished Apostolic Role, 1863–1867
10. Years of Alienation, 1867–1870
11. Era of Rebellion, 1870–1872
12. Last Years, 1872–1877
1. The Amasa M. Lyman and John Tanner Families
2. Early Lyman Study Notes
3. Additional Atonement
4. Lyman Poem
Bibliographic Essay

Praise and Reviews:

"Until now...the apostle-turned-apostate has remained a peripheral figure in much of Mormon historical literature. This new biography aims to provide a definitive treatment of Amasa's life. Lyman's book is likely to remain the most complete source on Amasa for years to come. Includes enough material to engage anyone interested in studying the early development of the Church through the experiences of Amasa Mason Lyman, an enigmatic and fascinating apostle."—Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought

"Throws new light on many episodes of Mormon history. Leo Lyman is not afraid to address difficult subjects, including documenting events that show Brigham Young in a less than favorable light. This notable book is worth the effort to read."—Utah Historical Quarterly


"The book holds a wealth of information on early Mormon and early Utah history."—New Mexico Historical Review


"Fine history. Rich meat to chew on. Much top-notch history to digest and enjoy here."—The Journal of Mormon History