Happy Cinco de Mayo!

May 8, 2023

Happy Cinco de Mayo! While many in the United States merely know it as a day to celebrate Mexican culture and cuisine, few know why it’s celebrated on May 5.

Mexico had won its independence in 1821, and soon after found itself amid the First Franco-Mexican War in 1839, the Mexican-American War in the late 1840s, and a bloody civil war between 1858 and 1861. These wars took a toll on the country, especially financially. On the verge of bankruptcy, Mexican President Juárez suspended foreign debt payments for two years, which angered foreign investors. The United Kingdom, Spain, and France entered into the Convention of London to launch a joint campaign against Mexico for repayment. However, France, then under the rule of Napoleon III, had ambitions of establishing a colony to then conquer Latin America. Realizing this, the United Kingdom and Spain entered into a separate treaty as the French fleet landed at Veracruz.

You may remember from history the idea of the Monroe Doctrine, where the United States would intervene if a European country interfered with the Americas, so where was the United States? The United States Civil War had just begun six months before the Convention, which is exactly why the nations decided to invade in the first place, they expected little if any American intervention.

While marching to Mexico City, the French Army reached Puebla, a small fort town garrisoned by 4,000 Mexicans. Though outnumbering and outgunning the Mexican defenders at roughly 8,000, the French Army lost on May 5, 1862. This gave the Mexicans a well-needed moral boost, though the war continued for another five years as a guerilla war. In 1867, the French finally decided to withdraw in defeat as the United States had stabilized enough after the Civil War to begin sending supplies. Cinco de Mayo lives on as a remembrance of the important early Battle of Puebla today.

To read more about Cinco de Mayo, click the link below!

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