Born in Kentucky, Lincoln grew up on the western frontier in a poor family. Self-educated, he became a lawyer in Illinois. As a Whig Party leader, he served eight years in the state legislature and two in Congress, then resumed his law practice. Angered by the success of Democrats in opening the western prairie lands to slavery, he reentered politics in 1854. He was a leader in building in the West the new Republican Party from Whigs and anti-slavery Democrats. He gained national attention in 1858 debating a top national Democratic leader Stephen A. Douglas. Although he lost that race, he became the western candidate for the 1860 presidential nomination as a moderate from a swing state. He swept the North and was elected president in 1860. Southern pro-slavery elements took his win as proof that the North was rejecting the Constitutional rights of Southern states to promote slavery. They began the process of seceding from the union and forming a new country. But nationalism was a powerful force in the North, which refused to tolerate secession. When the new Confederate States of America fired on Fort Sumter, one of the few U. S. forts left in the South, Lincoln called up volunteers and militia to suppress the rebellion and restore the Union. As the leader of the moderate faction of the Republican Party, Lincoln confronted Radical Republicans, who demanded harsher treatment of the South; War Democrats, who rallied a large faction of former opponents into his camp; anti-war Democrats (called Copperheads), who despised him; and irreconcilable secessionists, who plotted his assassination.