Just after the American Civil War ended in 1865, the Union government had the duty to attempt to rebuild the South and reincorporate those rebellious states into the Union. The public sector was busy trying to figure out how the states should be or could be readmitted into the Union, what rights should be given to newly freed slaves, and how former Confederate leaders should be dealt with. Much of the private sector saw a need to address these issues as well; however, many times Northerners headed south to seek different results.
The term "carpetbaggers" was used to describe most of the people who moved from the North to the South during the long period of Reconstruction. This derogatory term was abstractly used to "refer(red) to an unwelcome stranger coming, with no more property than he could carry in a satchel (carpetbag), to exploit or dominate a region against the wishes of some or all of its inhabitants" (Britannica 1). The actual definition, though, basically included all Northern citizens who moved into the old Confederacy to seek more wealth or power. The carpetbaggers were predominantly politicians; but, it also included businessmen and Northern adventurers (Encarta 1). The following is a list of some of the goals that carpetbaggers sought:
to obtain political power in the old Confederacy,
to increase wealth through expanding business operations,
to aid the blacks in their fight for civil rights and education
While this list is by no means comprehensive, it does include most of the more broad goals that were shared and, in turn, characterized the group known as carpetbaggers (Britannica 1, Encarta 1, Roller 182).
This page was created by Joey Coleman
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This page was last updated on 04/18/2000
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