carpetbaggers, epithet used in the South after the Civil War to describe Northerners who went to the South during Reconstruction. Although regarded as transients because of the carpetbags in which they carried their possessions (hence the name carpetbaggers), most intended to settle in the South, some in support of the radical Republican Reconstruction program, others to take advantage of speculative and commercial opportunities there. With the support of the black vote some carpetbaggers played an important role in the Republican state governments. The corrupt activities of some made the term carpetbagger synonymous with any outsider who meddles in an area's political affairs for his own benefit, but Northerners who worked in support of black civil rights and education were also malignly tarnished with the term.

See bibliography under Reconstruction.

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