Following the Civil War, the term carpetbagger was used by opponents of Reconstruction to describe Northerners who moved to the South, supposedly in an effort to get rich or acquire political power. A carpetbagger was portrayed as a lower-class schemer with little education who could carry everything he owned in a cheap carpetbag. Carpetbaggers supported the Republican Party and were thought of as profiteers who took advantage of the financial and political instability in the postwar South. Many of the Northerners who migrated to the South during Reconstruction were actually middle-class professionals looking for economic opportunities. Others came to aid newly freed African-American slaves.
White Southerners who supported Reconstruction-era Republicans were called scalawags by their political enemies. Most Southerners considered them traitors. Scalawags included non-slaveholding, small-time farmers, middle-class professionals, and Southerners who had stayed loyal to the Union during the Civil War.
Today, carpetbagger remains in use, as an insult for someone who’s an outsider looking for profit.
Source: What’s the difference between a carpetbagger and a scalawag?
© 2020 A&E Television Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.