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. Born in Oaxaca to a poor rural family of Zapotec origin, he became a well-educated urban professional and politician who married a socially prominent woman of Oaxaca City, Margarita Maza. He identified primarily as a Liberal and wrote only 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 following the succession codified in the Constitution of 1857. He weathered the War of the Reform, a civil war between the Liberals and the Conservatives, and then the French invasion, which was supported by Conservative monarchists. Never relinquishing office although forced into exile to areas of Mexico not controlled by the French, Juárez tied Liberalism to Mexican nationalism and maintained that he was the legitimate head of the Mexican state, rather than Emperor Maximilian. When the French-backed Second Mexican Empire fell in 1867, the Mexican Republic with Juárez as president was restored to full power.