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Tue, 03.24.1829

Ignacio Zaragoza, Politician, and Soldier born

Ignacio Zaragoza

*Ignacio Zaragoza was born on this date in 1829. He was a Mexican government administrator, soldier, and abolitionist.

He was born in the Mexican province of Texas, in the village of Bahía del Espiritu Santo, in Coahuila y Texas (now Goliad, Texas). He was the son of Miguel G. Zaragoza and María de Jesús Seguín. In 1830, his father capitalized on the U.S. government's land sale that was going on in what would later become the state of Texas and became a rancher.  His family moved to Matamoros, Mexico, in 1834 and Monterrey, Mexico, in 1844, where Zaragoza entered a seminary.

Between the seminary and joining the military, he married Maria Rosa de la Riva Palacio, daughter of the lawyer and politician Mariano Riva Palacio and Granddaughter of Vicente Guerrero, the Second Mexican President, in 1851. With her, he had one son, Ignacio Esteban de Zaragoza y Riva Palacio. By 1846, Zaragoza was a cadet for the Mexican army in the Mexican-American War.  At this point in history, Mexico had already declared war on the United States for admitting Texas as a State, which had earlier achieved her independence from Mexico (with independence later achieved by Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Seeing this, Zaragoza volunteered to be a cadet for the Mexican army in this conflict. The Mexican military rejected his offer, and because of this, he could not enlist.

Despite this rejection, Zaragoza was not deterred. Up to 1850, Zaragoza worked in the mercantile business. In 1852, as a member of the Mexican Liberal Party, Zaragoza got his first government opportunity on the national guard. Following this, in 1853, Zaragoza was able to join a militia branch of the Mexican army and, in doing so, obtained the rank of sergeant. Zaragoza joined the military supporting the cause of the Liberal Party in opposition to dictator Antonio López de Santa Anna.

The Battle of Puebla is Zaragoza's most important and influential legacy. This battle was a struggle that took place on May 5, 1862. On this day, in Puebla, Mexico, Napoleon III of France deployed part of his army to take this part of Mexico as a satellite state of France. After this victory, Zaragoza became a Mexican war hero. This victory led to the establishment of the renowned holiday Cinco De Mayo. When the French left Mexico in defeat, Zaragoza became a legend as one of the few Mexican generals to succeed in the battle against one of the greatest armies in the world. 

His army would never have a commander equal to him, as they suffered defeats later. Shortly after this victory, Zaragoza contracted typhoid fever and died at 33 on September 8, 1862. He was buried in San Fernando Cemetery in Mexico City. He was later exhumed and transferred to Puebla, while his former tomb became a monument.

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