Cinco de Mayo

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Author: Paul Ganster
Editors: Jay Kinsbruner and Erick D. Langer
Date: 2008
Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons
Document Type: Topic overview; Brief article
Length: 172 words
Content Level: (Level 4)
Lexile Measure: 1300L

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Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican national holiday commemorating the triumph of the Mexican army over the French on 5 May 1862, the battle of Puebla. General Ignacio Zaragoza led the Mexican army, consisting of about 2,000 conscript soldiers, to victory over a French force of some 6,000 well-equipped professional soldiers commanded by General Charles Latrille, Count of Lorencez. The battle was part of a campaign by the French to place the Austrian Archduke Maximilian on the Mexican throne and to establish an American empire. Although the French were ultimately successful in defeating the Mexicans and imposing Maximilian, the Mexican victory at Puebla, in the face of inadequate manpower and weaponry, inspired the Mexican nation to fight with new determination. Mexico, in honor of the victory, made Cinco de Mayo a holiday and an important national symbol. Cinco de Mayo has been celebrated for many years in the United States, especially in the Southwest and other areas with substantial communities of Mexican origin. It is often confused with Mexican Independence Day (16 September).


Jack Autrey Dabbs, The French Army in Mexico, 1861–1867: A Study in Military Government (1963).

Lilia Díaz López, Versión francesa de México: Informes diplomáticos (1853–1858) (1963).

Ernesto De La Torre Villar, La intervención francesa y el triunfo de la república (1968).

Francisco P. Troncoso, Diario de las operaciones del sitio de Puebla en 1863 (1972).

David G. Lafrance, "A Battle for Nationhood," Vista 5 (6 May 1990): 8-10, and "Dashed Ambition," Vista 6 (5 May 1991): 12-13, 18.

Additional Bibliography

Cunningham, Michele. Mexico and the Foreign Policy of Napoleon III. Houndmills, New York: Palgrave, 2001.

García Cantú, Gastón. La intervención francesa en México. México: Clío, 1998.

Meyer, Jean A. Yo, el francés: La intervención en primera persona: Biografías y crónicas. México: Tusquets Editores, 2002.

                                           PAUL GANSTER

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3078901493