In 1865, the El Nuevo Mundo newspaper of San Francisco invited its readers to join in toasting Mexico’s heroes and roasting its imperialist enemies by printing brindis, or toasts, performed by women of the Zaragoza Club of Los Angeles and the Patriotic Club of Mexico of Virginia City, Nevada. Members of these clubs were mostly lower- and middle-class Mexican and Mexican American women, although Chilean, Spanish, and Native American women also participated. The Huntington’s El Nuevo Mundo collection contains details of lively fundraising parties, organized by the clubs, where the brindis were given. The collected money went toward the Mexican war effort to fight the French invasion of Mexico, begun by Napoleon III’s troops in 1862, and the installation of Austrian-born Archduke Maximilian I as emperor of the Mexican Empire in 1864.
The brindis spoken at club events and printed in the newspaper were more than social gestures intended to impassion and inebriate potential donors. Brindis became a means for women of the Mexican patriotic clubs to assert their capacity for leadership, humor, and poetic wit, as well as express their social and political solidarity with one another—all within the public forum of the newspaper.
The brindis are easy to spot. Below, they are printed in the far-left column, with a short horizontal line separating them and a woman’s name attributed to each one.