This is a repost of something I wrote a few years ago about Cinco de Mayo…
A quick history lesson for anyone living anywhere with Mexicans who are celebrating Cinco de Mayo today.
Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican independence day, as many non-Mexicans believe. Cinco de Mayo celebrates a victory at the Battle of Puebla that the Mexican army under General Zaragoza had over the French (why am I not surprised) in 1862.
This battle is significant in American history because of what may have happened if the French had prevailed. Historians generally agree that the French invasion of Mexico in 1861 had little to do with debts that the French claimed Mexico owed them, but had everything to do with control of Mexico as a strategic asset to counterbalance the expanding and increasingly powerful United States. In 1861 the United States was in the early half of the Civil War and the outcome of this war was hardly certain at the time. The French, ruled by Napoleon III at the time believed that aiding the Confederate forces would provide victory to the south, and of course Mexico is an ideal access point to the southern U.S., so they invaded Mexico in December of 1861.
For those of you interested in such things, Mexican Independence day is actually September 16.