carpetbaggers, epithet used in the South after the Civil War to describe Northerners who went to the South during Reconstruction to make money. 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 and take advantage of speculative and commercial opportunities there. With the support of the black vote the 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.
See bibliography under Reconstruction.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.