1904 — 1949
A Meteoric Personality that Flashed Across the
Conscience of America.
The personality of Peter Marshall flashed like a
meteor across the conscience of America.
Regretfully, it was extinguished with his early
death at age 45. ■
As U.S. Senate Chaplain, the Rev. Mr. Marshall
challenged the best in the nation with his
piquant and pointed references to the problems
of the day in his prayers.
Marshall was born in 1904 in Coatbridge in the
industrial Clydeside. His father died when he
was four. He studied engineering and was
encouraged to pursue his career in the U.S.
where he arrived in 1927. He worked in New
Jersey and Birmingham, Alabama, where he was
inspired to study for the ministry.
graduation, he became pastor of a church in
Covington, Georgia, and later in Atlanta. By
1933, he was attracting large crowds with his
sermons. He moved to Washington where he was
well known as the preacher at the New York
Avenue Presbyterian Church. Here hundreds were
turned away every Sunday.
■ He was
asked to preach the Christmas sermon to
President Franklin D. Roosevelt and family.
Before long he was appointed Chaplain to the
Senate. It was said that senators started coming
early just to hear his prayers which were widely
quoted in national publications. An editorial in
the Atlanta Journal said, “His arresting
pulpit personality holds his listeners
enthralled by the dramatic forcefulness of his
He suffered severe heart pains in 1947 and died
January 25, 1949. Later, his wife Catherine said
of her husband, “There were things that Scotland
contributed to Peter—as she does to all her
sons—a sturdy independence that scorns hardship,
a tenacity of purpose, and a deep appreciation
of religion and political liberty with the will
to defend it at any cost.”
Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546