Tomáš Masaryk

Masaryk in 1925 Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk}} (7 March 185014 September 1937) was a Czechoslovak statesman, political activist and philosopher who served as the first president of Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1935. He is regarded as the founding father of Czechoslovakia.

Born in Hodonín, Moravia (then part of the Austrian Empire), Masaryk obtained a doctorate at the University of Vienna and was a professor of philosophy at the Czech Charles-Ferdinand University. He began his political career as a deputy of the Austrian ''Reichsrat'', serving from 1891 to 1893 and from 1907 to 1914. He was an advocate of restructuring the Austro-Hungarian Empire into a federal state, but by the outbreak of the First World War, he had become a supporter of Czech and Slovak independence. He went into exile, and travelled around Europe to organise and promote the Czechoslovak cause. He played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Czechoslovak Legion, which fought against the Central Powers during the war. In 1918, Masaryk, along with his protégés Edvard Beneš and Milan Rastislav Štefánik, travelled to the United States to obtain support from President Woodrow Wilson and Secretary of State Robert Lansing. Their negotiations resulted in the Washington Declaration, which proclaimed the independence of a Czechoslovak state.

With the fall of Austria-Hungary in late 1918, the First Czechoslovak Republic received recognition from the Allied powers and Masaryk was recognised as head of its provisional government. He was formally elected president in November, and was reelected three times subsequently. Masaryk presided over a period of stability as Czechoslovakia emerged as a strong democratic state. He resigned from office in 1935 due to old age, and was succeeded by Beneš. He retired to the village of Lány and died two years later at the age of 87. Provided by Wikipedia
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