Cinco De Mayo a Mexican Import? No, It’s as American as July 4, Prof Says
But on the 150th anniversary of the holiday, Hayes-Bautista is announcing that he happened upon the true origins of Cinco de Mayo — the 5th of May — after poring over Spanish-language newspapers in California from the mid-1800s while working on another research project.
Cinco de Mayo does indeed mark a Mexican military victory over the invading French army on May 5, 1862, but it’s celebrated more in the United States because in 1862, U.S. Latinos of Mexican heritage parlayed the victory as a rallying cry that the Union could also win the Civil War.
That’s because the French sympathized with the Confederacy, and Hispanics sided with the Union in its fight against slavery and elitism, Hayes-Bautista said. France sought to impose a monarchy over democratic Mexico while U.S. foreign power weakened during the War Between the States.