Efforts to Establish a Mexican Monarchy French Intervention in Mexico 1860's Area Research Paper

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¶ … Mexican Monarchy (French intervention in Mexico-1860's area)

The French attempt to establish a monarchy in democratic Mexico

The French attempt to establish a monarchy in democratic Mexico

Every year, Mexicans -- and many Americans -- celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Yet celebrants outside of Mexico often have little idea of what event they are honoring. Cinco de Mayo is not, as is often mistakenly assumed, Mexico's independence day. Instead it honors the real but improbable feat of the Mexican conquest of the French forces at Puebla, Mexico, 100 miles east of Mexico City on the morning of May 5, 1862. 4,000 loyal Mexican government forces triumphed over a French army twice that size composed some of the most elite French units, including members of the French Foreign Legion (Cinco de Mayo, 2010, Think Quest).

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The immediate cause justifying the French invasion was Mexico's nonpayment of its debts to creditor European nations. Originally, the French came to Mexico as part of a joint Spanish and English force, ostensibly to collect what was owed to the French by the democratically-elected government of Mexico. Mexico was heavily indebted to Europe, as a result of financing its recent conflicts with the United States and its own civil wars. In 1861, the democratically-elected president of Mexico Benito Juarez officially terminated Mexico's debt repayments for two years, to help his nation become more financially stable (Cinco de Mayo, 2010, Think Quest). The Mexican treasury was bankrupt.

Research Paper on Efforts to Establish a Mexican Monarchy French Intervention in Mexico 1860's Area Assignment

As a result of this announcement, Mexico's creditor nations of Spain, Great Britain and France sent troops to Mexico to demand repayment. Spain and Great Britain were merely interested in their money, and were able to negotiate a modified schedule of repayments (Cinco history, 2006, Viva Cinco de Mayo). But France remained. Unwittingly, Juarez's action had given the French forces a perfect excuse to wage war upon the fragile Mexican government. Juarez had just fought a civil war to assert his right to govern Mexico. Juarez was a liberal and the first Mexican leader ever to be unaffiliated with the Mexican army. He was still opposed by Mexican aristocratic forces and powerful landowners, whom he had only barely defeated in the Mexican Civil War (Cinco history, 2006, Viva Cinco de Mayo).

France knew that Juarez's hold upon power was tenuous. France believed that because his control of is nation was so shaky, and the fact that Juarez was democratically elected meant that it could easily dominate the Mexican nation. In the eyes of the devout monarchist Emperor Napoleon III, Juarez's base of power in the majority of the populace, rather than in the military (the latter of which Juarez had substantially weakened by withdrawing many of its constitutional privileges) only made him easier to defeat, not stronger (Tuck 2008).

The French Emperor Napoleon was determined to colonize the democratic Latin American nation of Mexico and establish a new French Empire in the hemisphere. More so than any of the other European powers, Napoleon III hated and feared the United States, and wished to assert his nation's permanent influence and control in the region to counterbalance American influence (Cinco history, 2006, Viva Cinco de Mayo). America's westward expansion and the incorporation of new states into its territory frightened Napoleon, as it was evidence of the young nation's greater strength of resources and land in comparison to France.

Napoleon III had visions of embarking upon the expansion of France's colonial outreach into Central and South America. Much like the original Napoleon, he wished to claim the vastness of the known world for France. Mexico seemed like an ideal base from which France could extend its influence. In Napoleon III's grand plan, the new French Empire would feed raw materials into France. France could… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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