1960 4¢ Thomas Masaryk
Champions of Liberty
Issue Date: March 7, 1960
City: Washington, D.C.
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 10 ½ x 11
Color: Dull blue
U.S. #1147 was part of the Champions of Liberty Series, and was 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.
Birth of Thomas Masaryk
US #1147 was issued on Masaryk’s 110th birthday.
Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk was born on March 7, 1850, in Hodonín, Austrian Empire (present-day Czech Republic).
Masaryk was born into a poor, working-class family, but was able to attend grammar school and eventually the University of Vienna. In 1876, he graduated with a PhD, and by 1882, he was working as a professor of philosophy at Charles University of Prague.
US #1148 from the Champions of Liberty Series.
Masaryk entered politics in 1891 when he began a two-year term in the Imperial Council as part of the Young Czech Party. Then in 1900, he founded the Realist Party, which sought to establish a free, open democracy and a unified state of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Masaryk was again elected to the Imperial Council as a member of the Realist Party in 1907 and remained there until 1914.
When World War I broke out that year, Masaryk realized that the Czechs and Slovaks should create their own independent country outside of Austria-Hungary. He and his daughter left the country and traveled to Rome, Geneva, Paris, London, Russia, Tokyo, and the US. In each of these places, Masaryk gave speeches, wrote articles, and established contacts for the independence movement. During his time in Russia, Masaryk helped form Czechoslovak Legions to fight for the Allies. Masaryk also created an intelligence network that spied on German and Austrian diplomats, providing valuable intelligence to the Allies.
US #1147 – Fleetwood First Day Cover.
In 1918, Masaryk reached the United States and gained support for his cause from President Woodrow Wilson. On October 26, 1918, he delivered a speech on the steps of Independence Hall in Philadelphia as head of the Mid-European Union. In the speech, he called for the independence of the Czechoslovaks and all other oppressed people in Central Europe.
US #1147 – Classic First Day Cover.
After the Austria-Hungary Empire was dissolved following World War I, Masaryk was named the head of the Provisional Government. He was elected the first President of the Czechoslovak Republic in November 1918. Masaryk would be re-elected three times, in 1920, 1927, and 1934. As president, Masaryk didn’t have a great deal of power, as the creators of the constitution had given much of it to the prime minister and the Cabinet. However, Masaryk served as a symbol of stability for the young nation, as during his tenure there would be 10 cabinets headed by nine prime ministers. It was also during his time as president that Czechoslovakia became the strongest democracy in Central Europe.
US #1148 – Plate Block First Day Cover.
Masaryk resigned from the presidency in December 1935 due to his age and poor health. He died less than two years later on September 14, 1937. To many people in Czechoslovakia, he served as a symbol of democracy and has been called The Great Old Man of Europe.
US #1148 – Fleetwood First Day Cover.