Carpetbaggers 1865

Carpetbaggers 1865


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After the Civil War and the fall of the Confederate States of America in 1865, there were Radical Republicans from the North that went down South to make money. They were called Carpetbaggers. They wanted to profit from the Reconstruction. At first, they had no real connections to the places they went to. Usually, carpetbaggers were middle-class people. They worked as teachers, merchants, journalists, or at the Freedman’s Bureau.


The term “carpetbaggers” refers to a traveler who arrives in a new region with only a carpetbag. When they went to the south, they bought land, leased plantations, or teamed up with planters in hopes of making money for cotton. Carpetbaggers were welcomed to the south at first because southerners saw them as people of the north who wanted to invest and get the region back on its feet. Later on, southerners saw them as low-class newcomers seeking to get rich on their misfortune.

They wanted to advance the society of the South. Most of them were opportunists, but many were motivated by a desire to reform the civil and political rights of freed blacks. Some carpetbaggers worked for the government. Their poor management was responsible for increasing debt in the south. Now the term Carpetbaggers is used for anyone who moves to a new state to run for a political office and who aren’t loyal to the state but just want to gain power.

One in a series of posters attacking Radical R...
One in a series of posters attacking Radical Republicans on the issue of black suffrage, issued during the Pennsylvania gubernatorial election of 1866. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)