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U.S. History. a Northerner who went to the South after the Civil War and became active in Republican politics, especially so as to profiteer from the unsettled social and political conditions of the area during Reconstruction.
any opportunistic or exploitive outsider:
Our bus company has served this town for years, but now the new one run by carpetbaggers from the city is stealing our business.
Contemporary Examples

The two biggest hurdles executives entering politics face is being viewed as either a carpetbagger or egomaniac.
Jeff Zucker for Senate? Peter Lauria May 4, 2010

He was told that he was a carpetbagger, but he desperately wanted to serve the people, as I do.
My Night With Sean Penn Cindy Sheehan October 29, 2008

Bob Smith: unbalanced, inconstant, and even more of a carpetbagger than the other guy.
Sen. Bob Smith: The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave Michelle Cottle December 3, 2013

Historical Examples

The charge of corruption laid at the door of the Negro carpetbagger governments is to a large extent true.
The Journal of Negro History, Volume 5, 1920 Various

We’ll hang the little Scalawag on the south side and the carpetbagger on the north.
The Sins of the Father Thomas Dixon

“You’ll go down, all right—without those troops—mark my word,” cried the carpetbagger.
The Sins of the Father Thomas Dixon

But most Southerners preferred the rule of the army to the alternative reign of the carpetbagger, scalawag, and Negro.
The Sequel of Appomattox Walter Lynwood Fleming

Generally they came two together, arm in arm, a carpetbagger and a negro in close confab.
Two Wars: An Autobiography of General Samuel G. French Samuel Gibbs French

The carpetbagger had found that he could control the Negro without the help of the scalawag.
The Sequel of Appomattox Walter Lynwood Fleming

In vain his carpetbagger lieutenant congratulated him on the success of his Napoleonic move.
The Sins of the Father Thomas Dixon

a politician who seeks public office in a locality where he has no real connections
(Brit) a person who makes a short-term investment in a mutual savings or life-assurance organization in order to benefit from free shares issued following the organization’s conversion to a public limited company
(US) a Northern White who went to the South after the Civil War to profit from Reconstruction

also carpet-bagger, 1868, American English, scornful appellation for Northerners who went South after the fall of the CSA seeking private gain or political advancement. The name is based on the image of men arriving with all their worldly goods in a big carpetbag. Sense later extended to any opportunist from out of the area.


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