Brain Post: Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexican Independence Day

Miles Clark | | BrainsBrains
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Cinco de Mayo battle in 1862

It’s often thought that’s Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day.  It’s not.  Mexican Independence Day is on Sept. 16th.

The reason behind the Cinco de Mayo celebration is the unlikely victory of the Mexican army over the French Army (at the time the most powerful in the world) in the city of Puebla, Mexico, on May 5th, 1862, when 4,000 Mexican soldiers were able to defeat 8,000 French soldiers.

Mexico won a battle against France with 1 soldier for every 2 French soldiers, but it didn’t affect the war’s outcome.  The French won the war.  The French were in the Americas to aid the Confederates in the US Civil War to destabilize the USA and get a bigger piece of the American pie.

The battle of cinco de mayo, 1862, Puebla, Mexico.
The battle of Cinco de Mayo, 1862, Puebla, Mexico.

Why the French and Mexicans were battling in Puebla on Cinco de Mayo:

In 1862 Mexico was recovering from many wars:  Mexican-American War 1846-48, Mexican Civil War 1858, & the 1860 Reform Wars. Unfortunately, the string of wars mentioned above shattered the Mexican treasury and left it damn near bankrupt.

On July 17, 1861, Mexican President Benito Juarez decreed that Mexico would not make any payments on its foreign debts for two full years.  This failure to pay debts upset the French, Spanish, and Brits.  Spain and England were able to work it out diplomatically, but not Napoleon III.  He shipped an Army out there to conquer Mexico for the French.  The French Landed in Veracruz and began their march to Mexico City.

The well-equipt French army of 8,000 soldiers ran into heavy resistance at the city of Puebla, Mexico. Nevertheless, 4,000 Mexican soldiers were able to defeat 8,000 French soldiers at the Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862.

The battle of cinco de mayo, 1862, Puebla, Mexico.
The battle of Cinco de Mayo, 1862, Puebla, Mexico.

Significance of the Cinco de Mayo battle:

4,000 guys beating 8,000 guys from the best, most well-equipped army in the world was huge.  Napoleon III’s Army hadn’t been defeated for 50 years before Cinco de Mayo.

Since the Cinco de Mayo battle in Puebla, no European army has ever invaded a country in the Americas.

After the Cinco de Mayo Battle:

The Mexicans crushed the best army in the world, and they definitely had reason to celebrate.  But, the celebration didn’t last long.  The French regrouped, put an end to the Mexican army one year later, and established Emperor Maximilian I as the ruler of Mexico.

Endure, the French did not. Finally, three years after taking over Mexico, Maximilian was dead, and the Mexicans regained control of their beloved country.

 

Born on March 21, 1806, in San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca, Mexico, Benito Juárez was president of Mexico (1861-'72) and for three years (1864-'67) fought against foreign occupation under Archduke Maximilian of Austria, who was finally captured by Mexican forces and executed him.
Born on March 21, 1806, in San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca, Mexico, Benito Juárez was president of Mexico (1861-’72) and for three years (1864-’67) fought against foreign occupation under Archduke Maximilian of Austria, who was finally captured by Mexican forces and executed him.

Why The French Were in Mexico:

The real reason the French were in Mexico may have been to gain a better position to aid the Confederate Army in the American Civil War.

“Some historians have argued that France’s real goal was to help break up the American Union, at the time in the midst of a civil war, by helping the southern Confederacy.” www.vivacincodemayo.org

The Emperor of France ordered his generals to spend a few months taking on Mexico and then – using Mexico as a ‘base’ – help the Confederates win their war against the United States. What if they had succeded? The United States would never become the significant world power it is today…the Mexicans not only took their nation back, but influenced the outcome of the U.S. Civil War.” – Dr. Donald W. Miles

Cinco de Mayo battle reenactment.
Cinco de Mayo battle reenactment.

More Cinco de Mayo Information:

– Cinco de Mayo is much more celebrated in the US than it is in Mexico, except for the city of Puebla.

– Mexicans living in California during the American Civil War were the first to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the States.

– The French named Latin America.  They named it to create some congruency with the French so that the French could start getting into Latin America and reaping some profits.


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6 thoughts on “Brain Post: Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexican Independence Day

  1. “Cinco de Mayo” is definitely a non-event here in Mexico, while “Día de la Independencia”, beginning in the evening of September 15 and continuing throughout the day of September 16, certainly is a major tradition. Thank you for sharing the back story about Napoleon III and how Mexicans frustrated his plan to break up the emerging power of the United States of America by joining with the Confederacy to turn the tide of the War Between the States. As you know, it was not going well for the Union armies at that time.

  2. Gracias Senor!

    Thank You for educating my Gringo friends! Happy Cinco De Mayo. Just finishing up my Margarita! Hope you guys are having one too.

    -md

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