January 18, 1919 – Ignacy Jan Paderewski becomes Prime Minister of the newly independent Poland.
Paderewski was a Polish pianist and composer, politician and spokesman for Polish independence. He was a favorite of concert audiences around the world. His musical fame opened access to diplomacy and the media.
Paderewski played an important role in meeting with President Woodrow Wilson and obtaining the explicit inclusion of independent Poland as point 13 in Wilson’s peace terms in 1918, called the Fourteen Points. He was the Prime Minister of Poland and also Poland’s foreign minister in 1919, and represented Poland at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. He served 10 months as prime minister, and soon thereafter left Poland, never to return.
After the Polish Defensive War of 1939 Paderewski returned to public life. In 1940 he became the head of the National Council of Poland, a Polish parliament in exile in London. He turned to America for help as well. He spoke to the American people directly over the radio, the most popular media at the time; the broadcast carried by over a hundred radio stations in the United States and Canada. In late 1940 he crossed the Atlantic again to advocate in person for the cause of aiding Europe and defeating Nazism. In 1941, he witnessed a touching tribute to his artistry and humanitarianism as US cities celebrated the 50th anniversary of his first American tour by putting on a Paderewski Week with over 6000 concerts in his honor. The eighty-year-old artist also restarted his Polish Relief Fund and gave several concerts to gather money for it. However, his mind was not what it had once been: scheduled to play Madison Square Garden for the second time in his career, he refused to appear, insisting that he had already played the concert, presumably remembering the concert he had played there in the 1920s. (from Wikipedia)
In 1960, the U.S. Postal Service issued two stamps honoring Paderewski as part of its Champions of Liberty series. Both the 4-cent (Scott No. 1159) and 8-cent (Scott No. 1160) varieties are shown here: