On May 5th 1862, the heavily armed French army of 8,000 were defeated by the poorly equipped Mexican army of only 4,000. The Mexican army had gone nearly bankrupt after the Mexican-American War, fought for Texas in 1846-48, and the Reform War, a civil war fought between Liberals and Conservatives in 1858-61. Mexican president Benito Juarez suspended all foreign debt payments for two years due to the near bankruptcy. In response, Britain, Spain, and France sent forces to Veracruz to demand payment. Spain and Britain came to a negotiation, but the French decided to stay and establish an empire in Mexico that would favor French interests.
The French attacked Veracruz in late 1861 and marched toward Mexico City. They encountered heavy resistance from Mexico near Guadalupe, where they were defeated the army half their size. A year later the French attacked again with nearly 30,000 troops, defeated the Mexican army, and captured Mexico City. French Emporer Maximillian I ruled Mexico for three years.
The American Civil War was coming to an end so the U.S. began to aid Mexico with political and military assistance to expel the French. The French retreated in 1866. Since then, no country in the Americas has been invaded by any European force.
Why do Americans celebrate Cinco De Mayo? Had Mexico been defeated, the French would have aided the Confederate states during the end of the Civil War and changed the destiny of the United States. Who knows where we would be today, had we not aided Mexico.
A lot of people in America celebrate Cinco De Mayo as a celebration of Mexican-American culture. They don’t know the true meaning of why this holiday exists. If this is you, don’t worry, you are not alone. The majority of people do not know why either. Dont let that stop you from enjoying a good party (drinking responsibly of course), catching a parade, or enjoying a good festive plate at your local Mexican restaurant.
Are there any Cinco De Mayo festivities in your area? How do you celebrate Cinco De Mayo? Please share with us in the comments below.