This Land Isn’t Your Land

1846
After Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, it addressed the problem of its northern region. The sparsely-settled area was subject to harassment from Comanche, Navajo and Apache tribes who felt they had some right to the land just because they were there first. Mexico thought attracting settlers from the United States might help. They tempted Americans with promises of cheap land grants, if the new settlers became Mexican citizens, spoke Spanish and converted to Catholicism.

Immigrants from the U.S. poured into the Mexican province of Tejas. Most came from slave states. By the early 1830s, the 5,000 Mexicans in the province were overwhelmed by the 20,000 settlers and their 5,000 slaves.

Continue reading “This Land Isn’t Your Land”

Why the French Don’t Celebrate Cinquième de Mai

Mexico’s independence day is September 16, not May 5.

In the aftermath of the Mexican-American War (the aftermath of the United States’ decision that they would take Texas, thank you very much) and the Reform (Mexican Civil) War, Mexico’s dire financial resulted the country suspending debt payments to foreign lenders. Britain, Spain and France responded by sending naval forces to Veracruz to demand their money. Britain and Spain negotiated a settlement and left. France executed a different strategy.

French forces conquered Veracruz in 1861 and, with President Juarez and the government in retreat, marched toward Mexico City. Beleaguered and greatly outnumbered, Mexican forces decisively defeated the French at Puebla. Although France came back a year later with quadruple the troops to retake the country, the battle at Puebla instilled pride and patriotism among the Mexican populace.

The French victory was short-lived. With Napoleon III’s attention turned to more imminent threats, like the impending Franco-Prussian War, France withdrew three years later and Benito Juárez established a new government.

Cinco de Mayo has been celebrated in California since 1863 and has since become a significant date across the U.S. Here in Portland Cinco de Mayo begins on the 3rd and takes over Waterfront Park downtown for three days of music, dancing, food and general merriment.