A small antislavery movement, led by the Quakers, had some impact in the 1780's and by the late 1780's all of the states except for Georgia had placed some restrictions on their participation in slave trafficking.Still, no serious national political movement against slavery developed, largely due to the overriding concern over achieving national unity.Part of the Compromise of 1850 was the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, which many Northerners found to be extremely offensive, and required that Northerners assist Southerners in reclaiming fugitive slaves.
In the end, while many would take comfort in the fact that the word slavery never occurs in the Constitution, critics note that the three-fifths clause provided slaveholders with extra representatives in Congress, the requirement of the federal government to suppress domestic violence would dedicate national resources to defending against slave revolts, a twenty-year delay in banning the import of slaves allowed the South to fortify its labor needs, and the amendment process made the national abolition of slavery very unlikely in the foreseeable future.
Any national discussion that might have continued over slavery was drowned out by the years of trade embargoes, maritime competition with Great Britain and France, and, finally, the War of 1812.
The South was dominated by a settled plantation system based on slavery; there was some rapid growth taking place in the Southwest (e.g., Texas), based on high birth rates and high migration from the Southeast; there was also immigration by Europeans, but in much smaller number.
The heavily rural South had few cities of any size, and little manufacturing except in border areas such as St. Slave owners controlled politics and the economy, although about 75% of white Southern families owned no slaves.
Nationalists (in the North and "Unionists" in the South) refused to recognize the declarations of secession. government under President James Buchanan refused to relinquish its forts that were in territory claimed by the Confederacy.