Throughout his life, the Prophet Joseph Smith provided countless examples of courage. One of the most dramatic occurred as he and other brethren were chained together—imagine, chained together—and held in an unfinished cabin next to the courthouse in Richmond, Missouri. Parley P. Pratt, who was among those held captive, wrote of one particular night: “We had lain as if in sleep till the hour of midnight had passed, and our ears and hearts had been pained, while we had listene…d for hours to the obscene jests, the horrid oaths, the dreadful blasphemies and filthy language of our guards.”
Continued Elder Pratt: “I had listened till I became so disgusted, shocked, horrified, and so filled with the spirit of indignant justice that I could scarcely refrain from rising upon my feet and rebuking the guards; but [I] had said nothing to Joseph, or any one else, although I lay next to him and knew he was awake. On a sudden he arose to his feet, and spoke in a voice of thunder, or as the roaring lion, uttering, as near as I can recollect, the following words:
“‘SILENCE. … In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you, and command you to be still; I will not live another minute and hear such language. Cease such talk, or you or I die THIS INSTANT!’”
Joseph “stood erect in terrible majesty,” as described by Elder Pratt. He was chained, without a weapon, and yet he was calm and dignified. He looked down upon the quailing guards, who were shrinking into a corner or crouching at his feet. These seemingly incorrigible men begged his pardon and remained quiet.