A Message to Garcia

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For the 1936 film, see A Message to Garcia (1936 film).
A Message to Garcia
Author Elbert Hubbard
Country United States
Language English
Genre Literature
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback, E-Book)
Pages 42
ISBN 978-1-61720-215-5

A Message to Garcia is a best-selling inspirational essay by Elbert Hubbard, published in 1899. It has been made into two motion pictures. The essay bemoans the difficulty of finding employees who obey instructions without needless questions, work diligently without supervision, take initiative to overcome obstacles, and complete assignments promptly. It bewails the number of incompetent, lazy, thoughtless, obstructionist, employees who impede the work of the good employees, while admitting that these benighted people may not be able to help themselves.[1]

Publication history[edit]

A Message to Garcia was originally published as a filler without a title in the March 1899 issue of the magazine Philistine which Elbert Hubbard edited, but was quickly reprinted as a pamphlet and a book. It was very popular, selling more than 40 million copies,[1] and being translated into 37 languages. It also became a well-known allusion of American popular and business culture until the middle of the 20th century. According to language expert Charles Earle Funk, "to take a message to Garcia" was for years a popular American slang expression for taking initiative and is still used by some members of the military.

Historical context[edit]

With tension increasing between the United States and Spain (which then ruled Cuba), President William McKinley desired to initiate communication with the Cuban rebels, who could prove a valuable ally in case of war with Spain. McKinley asked Colonel Arthur L. Wagner to suggest an officer to seek Calixto García, one of the commanders of the rebels. Wagner suggested Andrew Rowan, a lieutenant, who then traveled to Cuba via Jamaica. Rowan met García in the Oriente Mountains and established a rapport. Rowan garnered information from García, who was eager to cooperate with the Americans with regard to fighting the Spanish. Rowan returned to the US and was given command of a force of "Immunes"—African-American troops assumed to be immune to the tropical diseases found in Cuba. He received the Distinguished Service Cross.[2]

Other media[edit]

A Message to Garcia was first made into a motion picture during 1916 by Thomas A. Edison, Inc. The silent movie was directed by Richard Ridgely and featured Robert Conness, Mabel Trunnelle, and Charles Sutton as Garcia. In 1936, A Message to Garcia was made by Twentieth Century Fox that was directed by George Marshall and featured Wallace Beery, Barbara Stanwyck, John Boles, Alan Hale, Herbert Mundin, Mona Barrie, and Enrique Acosta as Garcia.[3]

The radio program Suspense broadcast a 30-minute adaptation with the same title on September 14, 1953. It featured Richard Widmark as Rowan.

The Seattle-based band Visqueen released an album during 2009 titled "Message to Garcia".


External links[edit]