The nineteenth century was a time of worldwide change and a difficult time for Mexico in every sense. Its first decade saw the independence struggle in Mexico. By the second, it was a free country, but then in the third decade it lost Texas and by the fourth Mexico had lost half its territory. Then, in the 1850s, Benito Juárez began to transform the nation, urging the adoption the Laws of Reform that would separate the Church and the State and divide the country more than ever: Conservatives yearning for the past and with their eyes set on Europe, and Liberals aspiring to the model of progress espoused by its northern neighbor.
It was against this background of conflict that President Juárez was forced to flee to Guanajuato in his black carriage and set up his capital here. The Emperor Maximilian was also here. Mexico was the prize in a struggle between the memory of past glories and the hope of development. But it was Juaréz who would consolidate the nation, and Guanajuato remembers with pride his short, but symbolic stay here.