by Stefanie Chase


Many people think that Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day, but they are wrong. The holiday was first declared on May 5, 1862, when the Mexicans defeated the French army at the Battle of Puebla. It has been celebrated since then. Cinco De Mayo is the third most important holiday in Mexico, but is the most celebrated Mexican holiday in the United States.



Cinco de Mayo began with the French Occupation of Mexico. The French Occupation formed after the Mexican-American War that took place from 1846 to 1848. That war caused Mexico to have a national crisis during the 1850's. The Mexican-American War and a Civil War caused Mexico to go bankrupt. Debts had to be paid, but how?

President Benito Juarez issued a momantorium that delayed all payments for two years, but with a guarantee that all money owed would eventually get paid back. The English, Spanish, and French did not want to wait and decided to invade Mexico to get the money. The English and Spanish eventually gave up, but the French were persistent.

They wanted to start their own empire in Mexico under Napoleon III. They brought a Hapsburg prince named Maximilian with them to rule the new Mexican empire. The French attacked Mexico under the assumption that Mexico would give up their capital, like European countries usually did. General Zaragosa, commander of the Mexican army, ordered Colonel Diaz to take his cavalry out to the French flanks. In response to that, the French sent their cavalry off to chase Diaz and his men, and Diaz butchered them. What was left of the French army went after the Mexican army through a thunderstorm and through hundreds of stampeding cattle with only machetes.

The French lost the battle with many of their soldiers killed and wounded. The Mexicans' victory kept Napoleon III from supplying the confederate rebels for an extra year. This allowed the United States to build the best army ever. The new army conquered the Confederates at Gettysburg only 14 months later ending the Civil War.

Union forces were sent to the Texas/Mexican border under General Phil Sheridan. He made sure that the Mexicans got all of the weapons and ammunition that they needed to defeat the French. American soldiers were allowed to fight if they promised to unite with the Mexican army to fight the French. The American Legion of Honor was in the Victory Parade in Mexico City.


Cinco de Mayo Today

Cinco de Mayo is a regional holiday in Mexico. It is celebrated mostly in the state of Puebla. Cinco de Mayo is most popu;ar in tourist areas and along the U.S.-Mexico border and in the United States where Mexican population is high. That consists basically of Texas and Southern and Central California.




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