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Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk Bestowed Upon Charles R. Crane

President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman has posthumously bestowed the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk upon Charles Richard Crane for his significant contributions to the establishment of an independent Czechoslovakia. 

Charles Richard Crane (1858 –1939), an American millionaire and philanthropist, was a strong supporter of independence for Czechoslovakia from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was instrumental in bringing Thomas Masaryk, a sociologist and philosopher, to America, including in 1902 to do a series of lectures at the University of Chicago. Thanks to the diplomatic connections and strong backing of US President Woodrow Wilson, Czechoslovakia declared its independence in 1918, and Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk became its first freely elected president. Crane’s son, Richard Teller Crane II, became the first United States diplomat accredited to Czechoslovakia with the title Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, serving President Woodrow Wilson.

Charles Crane was captivated by Slavic nationalism and financed artist Alphonse Mucha’s Slavonic Epic, a masterpiece of paintings portraying the history of the Slavic people. Perchance in return, Mucha selected Crane’s American daughter, Josephine, as his model for the female image illustrated on the one hundred crown banknote, put into circulation in 1920 in the newly founded Czechoslovakia.

The Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk is the highest state decoration established in 1990 that is awarded to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to humanity, democracy and human rights.