UCLA Professor David Hayes-Bautista explains the 1862 origins, an all-American holiday created by Mexican-Americans, who saw the Mexican victory against the French attempt to destroy Mexican democracy as another front in the Union’s battle against the Slave Power.
The Franco-Mexican war continued until 1867, and American firearms played an important role in the liberation of Mexico. When the French occupied Mexico City, Mexican President Benito Juárez set up a resistance movement in northern Mexico. There, he ordered 1,000 Winchester Model 1866 carbines in .44 caliber, to be delivered to Monterrey, along with 500 cartridges per gun. The Juárez forces paid $57,000 in silver coin. “R.M.” – for “Republic of Mexico” – was inscribed on the frames of the carbines. Today, “Juarez Winchesters” are very valuable collectors items.