Carpetbaggers & Scalawags: History Behind The Names

Carpetbaggers and Scalawags. They were creatively unkind names used in the South for certain men in society and politics during the Reconstruction Era. I’d heard the historical terms and was familiar with their general definition, but I decided to delve into the connotation and history of these names and see if these men where really the villains, heroes in disguise, suspicious characters, or something else entirely.

This has been quite a research project today (yep, I didn’t pre-write this blog post – hence the late posting time). Earlier in the week, I planned to write about the effects of Reconstruction on the Civil War’s Border States; however, as I dug into the history of the topic – requested by a blog reader – I realized that to do it full justice, I needed some more research time and a particular resource that isn’t readily available. So – being flexible – I changed topics in the middle of the process, and decided to explore the details of these names so closely associated with the Reconstruction Era.

Hopefully, you’ll find some interesting historical details and maybe a new perspective on Northerners going south and Southerners turning Republican.

Please note: the terms “Carpetbagger” and “Scalawag” are used to explain and define since these terms are typically used in history books. In this blog post, they are not meant in the disrespectful, insensitive way; I decided to keep the historical terms to avoid confusion and since these labels are often used in general discussion of this period of history.

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