Carpet Baggers

Topics: Southern United States, Reconstruction era of the United States, American Civil War Pages: 1 (377 words) Published: February 18, 2002
419*392*6325Carpetbaggers was a name of used by white Southerners to describe Northerners active in the Republican Party in the South after the Civil War. Northern Republicans were influential in the South after the war, during the period known as Reconstruction (1865-1877). During Reconstruction, the Republican Party, which was based in the North, extended its organization to the South. The party gained control of Southern state governments and granted civil rights to blacks, including the right to vote. It also worked to establish public schools and to increase opportunities for ordinary Southern whites. The South's traditional leaders feared that these policies would further reduce their power and change their way of life. They charged that the Northerners were people of little ability and lowly origins whose personal possessions were so small that each had carried them south in a single carpetbag. Carpetbags, suitcases made of carpet material, were widely used at the time. Southern Democrats used the term carpetbagger as part of a propaganda campaign to convince other Southerners that the Republican Party was non-Southern and undesirable. The Democrats also excluded the Republicans from social affairs and used violence against them. They even had some assassinated. By the early 1870's, this treatment made it difficult for most Northerners to remain in Southern politics or even to remain in the South. Some of the people called carpetbaggers were unprincipled and corrupt. But most were not, and many came to the South for honorable reasons. Some were Union soldiers who after the war decided to stay in the South to begin a new life as farmers or as operators of small businesses. Others worked in the South for the Freedmen's Bureau, a federal agency that aided former slaves. Another group consisted of people experienced in Northern politics who felt they could be useful and influential in the Republican Party in the South. The people known as carpetbaggers...
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