He created more than 260 works, including well-known statues of Paul Revere and Native Americans. He also sculpted the angel Moroni atop the Salt Lake City Temple, which has become a symbol for the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and is generally the pattern for further angel Moroni statues on the spires of subsequent LDS Temples.
Dallin, the son of Thomas and Jane (Hamer) Dallin, was born in Springville, Utah, to a family then belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At age 19, he moved to Boston to study sculpture with T. H. Bartlett, and in 1883 entered a competition for an equestrian statue of Paul Revere. No entries were selected at that time, but over the next 58 years Dallin made seven versions of Paul Revere.
Dallin was not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and turned down the initial offer to sculpt the angel Moroni for the top of the LDS Salt Lake City Temple. Dallin later accepted the job and after finishing the statue said, "My angel Moroni brought me nearer to God than anything I ever did."
In Boston, he became a colleague of Augustus St. Gaudens and a close friend of John Singer Sargent. He married Vittoria Colonna Murray in 1891, moved to Arlington, Massachusetts in 1900, where he lived for the rest of his life, and there raised three children. He was a member of the faculty of Massachusetts Normal Art School, since re-named Massachusetts College of Art and Design, from 1899 to 1941.
Dallin's works include: the Paul Revere statue in Boston; busts of the Mormon Church's Founding Fathers, Utah's pioneers, and the angel Moroni atop the Salt Lake City Temple; casts of the well-known Appeal to the Great Spirit outside the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and in Muncie, Indiana and Tulsa, Oklahoma; and war memorials and statues of statesmen, generals, and mythic figures. In Springville, Utah, more than 30 examples of his work are on display at the Springville Museum of Art.
At the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri, Dallin competed in archery, winning the bronze medal in the team competition. He finished ninth in the Double American round and 12th in the Double York round.
He is remembered in Arlington, Massachusetts, with an art museum and an elementary school named in his honor.