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What does the term Carpetbagger means?


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The term carpetbagger was a derogatory term used by Southerners to refer to a Northerner (Yankee - whites from the north) who traveled to the South after the American Civil War during Reconstruction (1865-1877) to make money or to work as officials in the reconstruction process. They were disliked by the Southerners who saw all these outsiders as opportunistic and exploitive; whose only intentions were to seek power, wealth or success presumptuously by meddling in business or politics. There were those who became politicians in the Reconstruction Government for their own gains so as to promote their careers and increase their wealth. Their corrupt activities included bribes, graft and others such forms of corruption at the expense of the Southerners.

The term “Carpetbaggers” was derived from carpetbags (an inexpensive luggage made from pieces of carpet sewn together with an handle attached to it), in which the Northerners used to carry their possessions. Because they all could all be identified by this luggage, they were then called “Carpetbaggers”. However, because of the corrupt activities of some of the Northerners, the term “Carpetbagger” became synonymous with corrupt activities especially for those taking part in politics. There were however those Northerners who honestly wanted to rebuild the South after the Civil War and restore the former seceded states (Confederate states) to the Union and help the freed slaves in their transition from slavery to freedom.

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