“Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story” (scenes 1- 6, the Cuban countryside, February 1898)

“Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story” (scenes 1- 6, the Cuban countryside, February 1898)

SEE ENTIRE SCREENPLAY “Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story:” New and Improved



USS Maine Tablet (1912), old Rochester City Hall, Fitzhugh Street USS Maine Tablet (1912), old Rochester City Hall, Fitzhugh Street USS Maine Table (1912), old Rochester, NY City Hall, Fitzhugh Street

Scene 1: Havana, February 1898


from 1896 film, Boxing match or Glove Contest

Scene 2: Pawtucket, Rhode Island, February 1898

Scene 3: Washington, February 1898



Scene 4: Montana, February 1898


Scene 5: New York, February 1898220px-StephenCraneandCora1899

Scene 7: Havana, May 1898


1893 edition

Scene 8: Havana, May 1898

Scene 9, Siboney, Cuba June evangelina-cosío-cisneros%202


1898crank 2



Stephen Crane in Greece, Greco-Turkish War, 1897


Cuban General Calixto Garcia (right)

“Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story” Scene 6 The Cuban Countryside, February 1898

The Cuban rebels—gaunt and tired—are impassively hunched around their tents.  Several men play Cuban music on guitars.

A currier approaches, excitedly: “Hombre, hombre. I have news that will wake you.   The Maine has been blown up in Havana.  The Americans blame the Spanish.  War is sure to come and with it a great army to make Cuba free.”

A sudden rise of interest:  The men give great hurrahs.   “Long live America!  Cuba Libre!”

The guitar players change their tune, soon all are chanting “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy.”  Several men go to a tent and bring forth a great sword.  They hold it aloft and pass it among themselves.

[In 1898, William Randolph Hearst commissioned a $2500, gold-plated and diamond-encrusted sword inscribed “Viva Cuba Libre” and “To Máximo Gómez, Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Republic of Cuba.” It is unclear if the sword was delivered.]


Soldier #1:  Finally, our prayers are answered.  Uncle Sam will now make good upon his word.


Cuban rebel executed by Spanish troops (as reported by Richard Harding Davis and Frederick Remington)

Soldier # 2:  The Americans will bring us guns just as they brought us the sword.  For every Spaniard we killed with a machete, two will face hot lead.

A Charge of Cuban Cavalry armed with machetes

Soldier # 3:  Look.  Why is General Garcia quiet?  Does he not rejoice?

Garcia (approaches the men):  Soldiers, you have fought well and buried many of your  brothers.  But beware. Once the Americans come, they will not leave.  They will kill the  Spaniards but then we will have to kill them.

cuban shot

Cuban rebels executed

Soldier #1:  But, sir, our people are suffering so.  Our men have left their farms to fight the Spanish, armed only with the machetes that should be cutting the sugar cane which feeds their families.

Garcia:  Our people suffer because Spain has sent them to concentration camps.  The Spaniard believes our will is no stronger than our stomachs.


American Red Cross providing assistance. During Spain’s Reconcentrado policy in Cuba 1896-97. During that period, the Spanish government moved civilians from the country side into “concentration camps.” (sometimes referred to as The Cuban Holocaust)

Soldier #2:  But the Americans will liberate the camps. Think of that great sword (pointing to the celebration) that the American Hearst sent us—all the way from New York—to inspire our great cause.


Elbert Hubbard’s inconceivably popular short homily “A Message to Garcia” has almost no parallel in the history of American letters. First published in Hubbard’s little magazine The Philistine in March 1899, during the period of celebration over the United States’ victory over Spain, “A Message” retells the story of Lieutenant Andrew Rowan, one of the Cuban Campaign’s acclaimed heroes. After war with Spain was declared, and prior to the American invasion, President McKinley decided to contact General Calixto García, the leader of the Cuban insurgency. Rowan was ordered to deliver a message (whose contents were never disclosed) to García who was positioned deep in the interior of Cuba. Despite the obvious danger, Rowan is supposed to have carried out his order without question or hesitation. Within a year, eleven million copies of “A Message” had been printed.  By the time Hubbard,  founder of the Roycroft Arts and Crafts Community in East Aurora, New York, perished in the 1915 Lusitania sinking (pictured), he had sold over forty million copies of “A Message.”


Evangelina Cosio y Cisneros (September 23, 1877 – April 29, 1970) was the focus of events that played out in the years 1896–1898 during the Cuban War of Independence.

Garcia:  Swords cut both ways.  Soldiers, when the Americans come, we will greet them as men.  And let them treat us as men.  (Garcia walks away.)

Soldier # 3:  I suppose the General is right.  We must always keep our guard up.  But I wonder . . . Margharita, his beloved, the Cuban Joan de Arc, is sure to be freed?  Must that not fill him with joy?

Soldier # 1:  My friend, General Garcia is a great soldier.  He has won many battles.  But he is also a man.  Margharita is the great martyr of our cause.  But it was our general—when he took to the field himself—who opened the door for her capture.

Soldier # 2:  Yes.  While Margharita is in held hostage in Havana, she is still his martyr. But when she is free—she will be like Cuba—and a free woman knows no bounds.


from the 1936 film, A Message to Garcia, starring Barbara Stanwyck. In 1916, D.W. Griffiths made a silent version

Soldier # 3:  Perhaps.  But at the same time, a woman has no place in a revolution once it is over.  A woman will stand at the side of the victor.  She will stand by the strongest sword.  And, Garcia has let her go once . . .

Soldier #1:  But enough of this.  Let the Americans come.  It is the end of Spain!  “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy, I’m a Yankee do or die!”

cuban woman cavalry

During the war of independence against Spain, Cuban women served in the cavalry from The Story of Cuba: Her Struggles for Liberty by Murat Halstead (1898)


About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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