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Cinco de Mayo, Mon Dieu!

Jun 16, 2008
Having been brought up in a school system and time period that emphasized math and science it should come as no surprise to anyone that I know very little about American history. And when I say American history, I mean American, not just the United States.

For example, living in Arizona I have always been curious about Cinco De Mayo. The consumptive "Mexican" holiday celebrated by our bars and restaurants on the Fifth of May. Most consumers don't seem to care that it is NOT the Mexican Fourth of July. But when I found out it wasn't Mexican Independence Day, I wanted to know what it was all about.

So here's some information that I'll bet 95% of us "United Staters" didn't know.

It seems that in 1862 France was bit of a super power. Their Emperor was Napoleon the third. Not the little short guy with his hand in his vest. That would be Napoleon the first. Napoleon Three was the nephew of Napoleon One. And believe it or not, he was also the grandson of N One's wife, Josephine because her daughter by an earlier husband was Napoleon Three's mother. (I know. I read it three times myself.) So what's this pseudo-incestuous nonsense got to do with American history?

Well, in 1862 N Three was encouraging the Confederacy in the U.S. Civil war and building an international coalition (Spain and England) to send troops to Mexico. It seems Mexico was refusing to pay money owed to the coalition, so the troops were going to come in and take it.

They sent the best equipped debt collectors in the world. When they arrived in Vera Cruz, the residents surrendered their treasury. Spain and England took their money and left, but N III figured, hey if it's that easy, why not just take over the whole country.

So N III's French troops set out for Mexico City. On the way they came to this place called Puebla. On May 5th, outnumbered two to one and armed mostly with machetes and stampeding cattle the Mexican insurgents soundly defeated an army that hadn't lost a battle in 50 years.

Historians seem to agree that this battle marked the beginning of the end for Aristocratic rule in America. Some even contend that if the battle of Puebla had been lost, the French would have quickly taken over Mexico and then added the Confederate States of America to their coalition. This would have provided much needed munitions and reinforcements to the South as they battled the abolitionist North.

Instead the defeat of the Super Power's army caused Spain and England to pull out of the coalition. Then France had to commit many more troops and much more time to conquering Mexico and installing their puppet regime. By the time the French were in a position to consider helping the Confederacy, it was too late. The U.S. Civil war was effectively over. And it was the Re-United States that would now turn their attention to helping Mexico battle the French occupation.

I am told that Cinco De Mayo is not really celebrated in Mexico. In parts of the Southwest U.S.A. some citizens will down some tequila and maybe sample some Mexican cuisine. And while, perhaps, we commoners can be excused for our ignorance about the real reason for celebration, our wanna-be-leaders have no excuse for ignoring the "Empires and Aristocracies fail" history lesson that accompanies the 5th day in May.
About the Author
B.L. Lindstrom is a highly paid and sought after systems janitor and author in multiple media. His latest communications can always be found on his Blog Authorian Adventures in the Ether, So I Wrote This Book. If you want to know more about his work you can visit BL Lindstrom.
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