May 2008 – The History Of Cinco De Mayo

By Maria Elena Montano

In the 1800’s, Mexico underwent a series of wars, bringing about political changes which affected Mexico’s government for yet another century.

After 300 years of colonial slavery New Spain declared its independence from Spain on Sept.16,1810. A war ensued on Mexican soil that lasted until 1821. Mexico was born as a constitutional democracy. The end of Spanish rule meant no more slavery, and it was written in the first constitution.

Only 26 years later, young Mexico was invaded by the United States, under the political doctrine of Manifest Destiny, established by President James Monroe. The United States declared war on Mexico, because in Texas the Americans brought slaves into Mexican lands and Mexico had no slavery in 1846. The Mexican American War lasted two years. No one won. There was a treaty made, where Mexico ceded the Southwest to the United States, in exchange for the promise of no more invasions. This is when Mexico became the “amigo”country. The present borders are the international borders agreed upon in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, 1848. Mexico had yet another challenge in the 1800’s: To pay back the loans it took from foreign powers to help pay for the War of Independence and war against the United States capitalist imperialist forces.

In Europe, Napoleon III (nephew to Napoleon I), had already established his French army as superior to all countries in Europe. He decided to conquer “Mexique.” His country was owed some money, and he sent a small army to collect. The French troops with bayonets, disembarked off the coast of Veracruz,on the Gulf of Mexico. They arrived in Puebla on May 5,1862. Their mission was to take two fortresses, Loreto and Guadalupe. There were many weapons and cannons at those fortresses. 

The townspeople of Puebla fought the French troops, until the Mexican troops arrived. This battle is remembered as Cinco de Mayo. 

The French lost the first battle, occupied Mexico repressively for seven years, and lost their last battle as well. Mexico’s democratic president was once again reinstituted in the Palace of Chapultepec. The president was Don Benito Juarez. A lawyer and major law reformist, who has been compared to Abraham Lincoln. Benito’s famous motto is “El Respeto al Derecho Ajeno es la Paz.” (Respect for Others’ Rights is Peace).

Categories: History, International, Labor