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The History Of Cinco de Mayo

The story of Cinco de Mayo dates back to the French occupation of Mexico. This all took place after the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, the Mexican Civil War of 1858, and the 1860 Reform Wars. All of these wars had left the Mexican Treasury nearly bankrupt. On July 17, 1861, President Benito Juarez had to issue a moratorium that suspended all payments of foreign debt for two years. France, Britain and Spain responded by sending their naval forces to Veracruz to demand payment. Britain and Spain negotiated settlements and withdrew. France, ruled by Napoleon III, decided to use this as an opportunity to establish a new empire in Mexico that favored French interests.

A large French force stormed Veracruz in late 1861. President Juarez and his government were forced to retreat. The French army moved from there toward Mexico City but they encountered heavy resistance from the Mexicans when they got near Puebla. The French army, which was considered to be the best at that time, had 8,000 men. The poorly equipped Mexican army only had 4,000. On May 5, 1862, while under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin, the Mexicans were able crush the French army.

Unfortunately, the Mexican victory was short lived. A year later, 30,000 French troops were able to depose the Mexican army and capture Mexico City. Emperor Maximilian I was established as the ruler of Mexico. But, only three years later, in 1867, Maximilian I was executed by the Mexicans, along with his generals, Miramon and Mejia.

Time magazine put it so well when they said, “The Puebla victory came to symbolize unity and pride for what seemed like a Mexican David defeating a French Goliath.”

Many of you will be celebrating on Cinco de Mayo. After you have enjoyed your 3rd, 4th or 5th margarita, why don’t you share this true story? After all that celebrating, do you think you’ll still be able to remember all the correct dates?

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!