Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Masaryk was born in the predominantly Catholic city of Hodonín , Moravia (then part of the Austrian Empire) to a working-class family (his father was a carter). As a youth he worked as a blacksmith. He studied in Brno, Vienna (1872-1876 philosophy with Franz Brentano) and Leipzig (with Wilhelm Wundt). In 1882, he gained an appointment as Professor of Philosophy in the Czech part of the University of Prague. The following year he founded Athenaeum, a magazine devoted to Czech culture and science. He wrote many works on history, exposing as fraudulent the supposed history taught before then (which included several anti-semitic tracts used to underpin Czech nationalism) and opposed racial prejudice. Although criticized by some, his efforts were acclaimed in Western intellectual circles.
Masaryk served in the Austrian Parliament from 1891 to 1893 in the Young Czech Party and again from 1907 to 1914 in the Realist Party, becoming an ever more vocal proponent of independence of the Slavic peoples from Austria-Hungary. When the First World War broke out he had to flee the country to avoid arrest for treason, going to Geneva, to Italy, and then to London, where he continued to agitate for Czech independence. In 1917 he went to Russia to help organize Slavic resistance to the Austrians. In 1918 he travelled to the United States, where he convinced President Woodrow Wilson of the rightness of his cause.
With the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, the Allies recognized Masaryk as head of the Provisional Czech government, and in 1920 he gained election as the first President of Czechoslovakia. He won re-election twice subsequently, and holding the office until 1935, when Edvard Beneš succeeded him.
Masaryk married Charlotte Garrigue, an American, from whom he took his middle name. His son, Jan Masaryk, served as Foreign Minister in the Czechoslovak government-in-exile (1940 - 1945) and in the governments of 1945 to 1948.
Masaryk gained the nickname of the President-Liberator. Many referred to him by his initials: TGM.
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