Cinco de Mayo - May 05, 2014
Cinco de Mayo holds a great deal of importance in history, not just for Mexico, but for the United States as well. Cinco de Mayo is translated into the "fifth of May" for the day on which Mexico had a stunning victory over France. Cinco de Mayo will fall on May 5, 2011 just as it falls on the 5th every year.
The battle occurred in Puebla, a state that is located in the eastern-center of Mexico. Puebla was founded by the Spanish in 1531 as a trade route connecting Mexico City to the port of Veracruz. Over the course of 300 years of history, Mexico became an area where the British, Spanish, and French nations had interests.
Mexico was left almost bankrupt by the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), the Mexican Civil War (1858), and the Reform Wars (1860). There weren't enough funds to pay back debts owed to Britain, Spain, or France. President Benito Juarez issued a proclamation on July 17, 1861 that his country would delay payments to the big three for two years.
This led to events preceding Cinco de Mayo as all three nations sent ships to Veracruz to demand payment on their loans. After speaking with officials in Mexico, Britain and Spain realized the dire conditions the country was in and negotiated with the administration. Afterwards, both countries pulled their navies from the harbor.
Napoleon III was ruling France at this time and decided it would be a good opportunity to seize control of Mexico. His intent was to bring a European styled monarchy into the Americas, and he had support from both Austria and Spain. Not only that; the aristocracy of Mexico favored the change in hopes of establishing some stability.
France attacked Mexico in 1861 and ran President Juarez into hiding, but their army of 8,000 hit stiff resistance in Puebla from an ill equipped army half the size of the French forces. Cinco de Mayo proved to be the undoing of the mighty French army that had not lost a battle in nearly 60 years.
The Mexicans' victory was short lived, however, as the French returned a year later with 30,000 troops to conquer the country. French rule was also short-lived, though, lasting only three years when the U.S. sent troops to drive the French out in 1865.
Cinco de Mayo was not as much a great military victory as it was a moral one. It proved to be the undoing of the Confederacy of the U.S. because Napoleon was not able to provide supplies to the troops during a critical time in the Civil War. Fourteen months after Cinco de Mayo, the Union crushed the southern army at Gettysburg, which effectively ended the war.
Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian from Austria was installed as the leader of the country and given the title Maximilian I of Mexico in 1864. Mexico was referred to as the Second Mexican Empire under the new reorganization, but it only remained in existence until 1867 because the United States was finally able to assist President Juarez once U.S. troops were freed up due to the end of the Civil War.
Maximilian went before the firing squad and Mexico has never been invaded by foreign armies since. Although Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day, it is celebrated in many places around the world and all over the United States.
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