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U.S. Southerner who supported Reconstruction. Opponents also applied the pejorative term to those who joined with carpetbaggers and freedmen to support Republican Party policies. The term, of unknown origin, was used from the 1840s to denote a worthless farm animal and later a worthless person. Scalawags included former Whigs and hill-country farmers with Unionist sympathies and constituted nearly 20% of the white electorate after the American Civil War. Many held government positions in the South and advocated moderate reforms.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on scalawag, visit Britannica.com.