Questions | Yonkers | Latino Communities
Mexican Culture in Yonkers
Militia: Military force of citizens defending their home.
Patriot: One who loves his country and protects its interests.
Expelled: Driven out.
The holiday of Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) is celebrated to remember the victory that occurred at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The Mexican-American War, 1846-48, and the Mexican Civil War of 1858 had destroyed the country's economy, and Mexico had gone heavily into debt to Spain, France and England. When they became unable to make loan payments, Emperor Napoleon of France used the debt as an excuse to add Mexico to its empire. French soldiers invaded through the Gulf of Mexico with the plan to march to Mexico City and install Napoleon's relative, Archduke Maximilian of Austria, as ruler of Mexico.
Mexicans quickly organized resistance to the invasion, with a small army of about 4,500 led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin. The militia was poorly armed and outnumbered, but in spite of this they defeated the French army and halted the invasion at Puebla. The victory gave hope and pride to the Mexican patriot movement, and is still celebrated today by the Cinco de Mayo holiday.
Napoleon continued his invasion and was able to establish Maximilian as ruler a year after Seguin's victory. With the assistance of the United States, the French were finally expelled from Mexico in 1867.
Document 5: Escobar, Deborah. “Cinco de Mayo,” February 20, 2003.
Document 5 Short Answer Questions
- What victory does Cinco de Mayo celebrate?
- Why does this victory have so much importance to Mexicans from Puebla?