Peter Marshall? E. W. Palmer? Mary Morain? Stanley Sykes? Horace Mann? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: Would you please explore the provenance of the following inspirational quotation?
A different world cannot be built by indifferent people.
These words are often attributed to someone named Peter Marshall, but I have seen other individuals credited.
Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence located by QI appeared in January 1944 in the U.S. military newspaper “The Stars and Stripes”. Multiple editions of this periodical were published, and the saying was included in the London and Northern Ireland editions: 1 2
GI Philosophy. A different world can never be built with indifferent people.
GI was a nickname for soldiers in the U.S. Army. No specific name was given for the originator of the adage.
The expression has been connected to Peter Marshall because he held the prominent position of Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, and he popularized the maxim by including it in two prayers in 1947 and 1948. Detailed citations are given further below.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1944 January 11, The Stars and Stripes (London Stars and Stripes), Hash Marks, Quote Page 2, Column 2, London, Middlesex, England. (NewspaperArchive) ↩
- 1944 January 11, The Stars and Stripes (North Ireland Stars and Stripes), Hash Marks, Quote Page 2, Column 2, Belfast, Ulster, Northern Ireland. (NewspaperArchive) ↩