| About a Message to Garcia
By ELBERT HUBBARD
This literary trifle, A Message to Garcia, was written one evening
after supper, in a single hour. It was on the Twenty-second of February,
Eighteen Hundred Ninety-nine, Washington's Birthday, and we were
just going to press with the March Philistine. The thing leaped
hot from my heart, written after a trying day, when I had been endeavoring
to train same rather delinquent villagers to abjure the comatose
state and get radioactive.
The immediate suggestion, though, came from a little argument over
the teacups, when my boy Bert suggested that Rowan was the real
hero of the Cuban War. Rowan had gone alone and done the thing-carried
the message to Garcia.
It came to me like a flash! Yes, the boy is right, the hero is
the man who does his work-who carries the message to Garcia.
I got up from the table, and wrote . I thought so little of it
that we ran it in the Magazine without heading. The edition went
out, and soon orders began to come for extra copies of the March
Philistine, a dozen, fifty, a hundred; and when the American News
Company ordered a thousand, I asked one of my helpers which article
it was that had stirred up the cosmic dust. "It's the stuff
about Garcia," he said.
The next day a telegram came from George H. Daniels, of the New
York Central Railroad, thus "Give price on one hundred thousand
Rowan article in pamphlet form--Empire State Express advertisement
on back--also how soon can ship."
I replied giving price, and stated we could supply the pamphlet
in two years. Our facilities were small and a hundred thousand booklets
looked like an awful undertaking.
The result was that I gave Mr. Daniels permission to reprint the
article in his own way. He issued it in booklet form in editions
of half a million. Two or three of these half-million lots were
sent out by Mr. Daniels, and in addition the article was reprinted
in over two hundred magazines and newspapers. It has been translated
into all written languages.
At the time Mr. Daniels was distributing the Message to Garcia,
Prince Hilakoff, Director of Russian Railways, was in this country.
He was the guest of the New York Central, and made a tour of the
country under the personal direction of Mr. Daniels. The Prince
saw the little book and was interested in it, more because Mr. Daniels
was putting it out in such big numbers, probably, than otherwise.
In any event, when he got home he had the matter translated into
Russian, and a copy of the booklet given to every railroad employee
Other countries then took it up, and from Russia it passed into
Germany, France, Spain, Turkey, Hindustan and China. During the
war between Russia and Japan, every Russian soldier who went to
the front was given a copy of the Message to Garcia.
The Japanese, finding the booklets in possession of the Russian
prisoners, concluded that it must be a good thing and accordingly
translated it into Japanese.
And on an order of the Mikado, a copy was given to every man in
the employ of the Japanese Government, soldier or civilian.
Over forty million copies of A Message to Garcia have been printed.
This is said to be a larger circulation than any other literary
venture has ever attained during the lifetime of the author, in
all history-thanks to a series of lucky accidents.
1 December 1913