Champions of Liberty Series
U.S. #1147-48 were part of the Champions of Liberty Series, and were issued in honor of Czech patriot Thomas Masaryk.
Thomas Masaryk was born in Austria-Hungary, and later became the founder and first president of the Czechoslovakia Republic. Masaryk was a member of the Austrian parliament, and tried to reform the Hapsburg Empire into a democratic state. During World War I, he organized groups of Czech revolutionaries, and provided valuable intelligence to the Allies.
Masaryk gained support for his cause from U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, and called for Czechoslovakian independence in a speech on the steps of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. After the Austria-Hungary Empire was dissolved following World War I, Masaryk was named head of the Provisional Government. He was elected first President of the Czechoslovak Republic in November 1918.
Champions of Liberty
In 1957, the Post Office Department issued a stamp honoring Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay as a “Champion of Liberty.” Magsaysay’s stamp marked the beginning of a 10-stamp series honoring non-Americans who fought for freedom in their homelands.
After Magsaysay’s single commemorative stamp was issued, the rest of the series had two stamps printed for each subject – one in a single color, and one with three colors. The pairs were also of different denominations. The series was issued from 1957 to 1961. It featured Ramon Magsaysay, Simón Bolívar, Lajos Kossuth, José de San Martín, Ernst Reuter, T.G. Masaryk, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Gustaf Mannerheim, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and Mahatma Gandhi.