"Carpetbagger" was the term given to Northerners who moved south after the American Civil War. It was derogatory in nature and its origin was such that the people it was meant to portray carried all of their possessions in one bag, made of carpeting. In reality, most people the term was given to were educated, ranging from business and political leaders of the day to former soldiers.

Many of these so called "carpetbaggers" were looking to invest in abandoned or repossessed lands and to form partnerships with planters. Many of them were met with either violence, ostracism or simply ignored because of their racial views but some capital starved southerners, who were seeking to rebuild the south's economy, welcomed them into the fold. At the height of the Radical Reconstruction in 1867, some of the "carpetbaggers" were active in political and social reform. Given the fact that, at that point in history, few southerners were joining the Republican party, "carpetbaggers" wound up winning the lion's share of southern political offices.

The carpetbaggers also set out to modernize the southern economy via the building of railroads and other internal improvements. After the Compromise of 1877, many of them, who relied on either federal patronage and or support, simply returned to their origins in the North or were assimilated into southern society.

Car"pet*bag"ger (?), n.

An adventurer; -- a term of contempt for a Northern man seeking private gain or political advancement in the southern part of the United States after the Civil War (1865)<-- used now for any politician moving to a new location to take advantage of more favorable chances for election-->.

[U. S.]

 

© Webster 1913.

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