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Epithet used during the Reconstruction period (1865–77) to describe a Northerner in the South seeking private gain. The word referred to an unwelcome outsider arriving with nothing more than his belongings packed in a satchel or carpetbag. Many carpetbaggers were involved in corrupt financial schemes, but others helped rebuild the economy in the South and participated in educational and social reform.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on carpetbagger, visit Britannica.com.