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The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Masaryk, Thomas Garrigue

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MASARYK, Thomas (Tomáš) Garrigue, author and first president of the Czecho-Slovak Republic: b. Göding, Moravia, 7 March 1850. A Slovak by race and the son of poor parents, young Masaryk was apprenticed to a blacksmith after receiving an elementary education. He soon forsook the stmithy and studied philosophy at Vienna and Leipzig. Appointed lecturer on that subject at Vienna In 1879, he made his mark by a study on “Suicide” as a pathological symptom of the condition of contemporary Europe, attributing its chief cause to the decline of religious sentiment. He became professor of philosophy in 1882 at the new Czech University in Prague, where he distinguished himself as an interpreter of modern political and social tendencies to a growing body of students drawn from all branches of the Slav family, Commenting on the movement for reunion and reconciliation among the Serbs and Croats already in 1909, Hermann Bahr (q.v.) wrote: “So strong has been the influence of the lonely Slovak at Prague” that his pupils had “inspired their shattered country with belief in the future.” Elected to the Austrian Parliament in 1891, Masaryk boldly criticized the bureaucratic policy of Austria in Bosnia-Herzegovina and resigned his seat in 1893 as a protest against the negative policy of Czech Nationalists. For a number of years he edited the critical review Athenæum, which he founded in 1883, and later Nashe Doba (Our Epoch), dealing with religious criticism and Church history. He exposed as modern forgeries two manuscripts (of Gruenberg and Königinhof) which had long been treasured as national heirlooms, while later, in a famous “blood ritual” trial, he demonstrated the absurdity of the ritual murder charge brought against a Jew. Professor Masaryk married an American and as a political economist is well known in the United States through his lectures at the University of Chicago and other American institutions. He himself has been strongly influenced by the teachings of Comte, Spencer, Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. His works were mostly written in German, but subsequently translated into Czech. He has published ‘Ueber den Hypnotismus’ (Vienna 1881); ‘Der Selbstmord als Sociale Massenerscheinung der modernen Zivilisation,’ the most important of his works (Leipzig 1887); ‘Ueber das Studium der Dichter Werke’ (2 vols., Leipzig 1884-86); ‘Grundzüge einer konkreten Logik’ (1885); ‘Unsere heutige Krisis’ (1895); ‘Die Moderne Evolutions — Philosophie’ (1896); ‘La Question bohémienne’ (1895); ‘Die philosophische und sozialistische Grundlagen des Marxismus’ (Vienna 1898); ‘Die Stellungnahme der Sozialistenpartei zur Ethik’ (1896); ‘Ideale der Humanität’ (1902); ‘Intelligenz und Religion’ (1907); ‘Freie wissenschaftliche und kirchlich — gebundene Weltanschauung’ (Vienna 1908); ‘Russland und Europe: Soziale Skizzen’ (1913).

Among these historical and philosophical writing, his powerful criticism of Marxian Socialism and the great work on “Russia and Europe” stand foremost. He rendered great service in spreading translations from English literature in Bohemia, where his influence also permeated the entire younger generation, as it did among the Southern Slavs and among the Ruthenes. In 1907 he was re-elected to the Austrian Parliament. During the Friedjung trial in 1909 (see Austria-Hungary and the War, Vol. II, p. 637) he helped to expose the forgeries upon which Count Aehrenthal based his annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. When the European War broke out he remained in Prague till December 1914, when he escaped to Italy and thence to England in time to avoid arrest. He then became lecturer in the School of Slavonic Studies at the University of London. On 6 Dec 1916 the Austrian Clerical organ, Reichspost, announced that Professor Masaryk had been sentenced to death in cotumacium for high treason. Meanwhile, the “condemned” man was rapidly gaining wide recognition among the Allies as the leader of the national struggle for Czecho-Slovak independence. Together with Dr. Benes and Colonel Stefanik, he formed the triumvirate which was ultimately recognized by the Allied governments as the trustee for the future government of Bohemia. In the spring of 1917 Professor Masaryk was called to Russia by Professor Milyukoff, but soon realized the hopelessness of the Russian situation and devoted strenuous efforts to organize the Czecho-Slovak army. He preceded this force to Vladivostok and went on to Tokio and Washington. He had several audiences of President Wilson and addressed many public meetings. The republic of Czechoslovakia was recognized by Great Britain on 3 Aug. 1918; by the United States on 2 Sept. 1918; by Japan 9 Sept. 1918 and by Italy on 23 April 1918. The Declaration of Independence was formally published in Paris on 18 Oct. 1918 and the republic was formally proclaimed at Prague on 29 October. The Constitution was drafted in Geneva by 2 Nov. 1918, when the government was chosen. On 21 Dec. 1918 President Masaryk made a triumphal entry into Prague and then took oath to the new republic. In his first message to the members of the National Assembly delivered on 26 Dec. 1918 in the presence of representatives of the Allied governments, the President sketched the policies and principles of the two opposing groups in the great conflict and expressed the “gratitude and unshakable fidelity” of the republic toward the Allies. See Czecho-Slovaks; Slavs; War, European.