Benito Pablo Juárez García was a Mexican lawyer and politician, who served as the 26th president of Mexico from 1858 until his death in 1872. He was the first president of Mexico who was of indigenous origin. Born in Oaxaca to a poor Zapotec rural family and orphaned when he was young, he moved to Oaxaca City at the age of 12 to go to school. He was aided by a lay Franciscan, and enrolled in seminary, later studying law at the Institute of Sciences and Arts and becoming a lawyer. After being appointed as a judge, in his 30s he married Margarita Maza, a socially prominent woman of Oaxaca City. From his years in college, he was active in politics. Appointed as head justice of the nation's Supreme Court, Juárez identified primarily as a Liberal politician. In his life, he wrote briefly about his indigenous heritage.
When moderate liberal President Ignacio Comonfort was forced to resign by the Conservatives in 1858, Juárez, as head of the Supreme Court, assumed the presidency and the two governments competed. His succession was codified in the Constitution of 1857 but he survived in internal exile for a period during which he signed the McLane-Ocampo Treaty in 1859.