A scalawag was a term given to white men from the South who turned away from Democratic beliefs and instead began supporting Republican ideas. They believed that the Republican Party would be better for them economically in comparison to the Democratic Party. Scalawags wereexternal image briefh3.gif viewed as traitors by other white Southerners who still had hope that the Confederation would make a comeback. By accepting the federal reconstruction plan, they hoped to be able to make more money and thus be able to better their lives. By cooperating with African Americans, scalawags hoped to achieve higher positions in the political offices of the South.

Some scalawags that started out as farmers living in remote areas wanted to end their economic isolation and thought that the internal improvements of the Republican Party would help them achieve their goals. Others were very wealthy planters or businessmen who were interested in the economic development of the region.

Scalawags had to often watch their backs, because they were constantly being threatened by loyal Democrats and people who still supported the Confederation and were anti-Republican. Many times, scalawags would be the targets of groups such as the Ku Klux Klan because of their sudden change in loyalty and because they looked to cooperate with African Americans.


A carpetbagger was a external image 7106-004-F7394EDB.jpgNortherner who went to the South in order to take advantage of the South’s poor conditions and make a lot of money. The term "carpetbagger” comes from the cheap suitcase that many brought all of their belongings in: a bag that would appear as if it were a carpet wrapped around itself with handles attached to the top.

Although many people did take advantage of the situations in the South, a lot also did truly want to help the conditions improve. Many doctors went to help care for the wounded, teachers went to help educate the general public, etc. they helped newly freed African Americans adjust to slavery better and gave them more opportunities. Also, even if they went to the South for mainly selfless reasons, there was more possibilities for them to better themselves economically.

All carpetbaggers were looking to find a better lifestyle, whether it be by helping themselves or helping others. Most were in fact of the middle-class and were educated people. By taking a chance and helping African Americans, they also angered such groups as the Ku Klux Klan and were constantly facing hardships.

Both scalawags and carpetbaggers
had to constantly look out for eachother because of the prejudices against them, especially by the Ku Klux Klan. Also, both groups of people took a huge chance by doing what they believed instead of what everyone accepted in those days. Even though most of each group were men, there were also some women who
announced their ideas, although many of those women belonged to a family that stated their decision to either support Republican ideas or to move to the South.
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Carpetbags get their names because of the cheap material used to make them. It would seem as if someone just folded a carpet in half and attached handles to the top. They were very affordable for the young traveler, which is why they were used so often by Northerners traveling to the South.