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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

And you had the carpetbaggers and all that, but as occupations go, it wasn’t so brutal.
More South-Bashing! Michael Tomasky May 27, 2013

carpetbaggers already in situ to cash in on the wasted and exhausted city.
I Watched Iraq Fall Janine di Giovanni March 16, 2013

Historical Examples

Of the carpetbaggers half were personally honest, but all were unscrupulous in politics.’
The Sequel of Appomattox Walter Lynwood Fleming

Generally the blacks showed no desire for mixed schools unless urged to it by the carpetbaggers.
The Sequel of Appomattox Walter Lynwood Fleming

When I come along, the carpetbaggers were teaching and they knew their business.
Slave Narratives: Arkansas Narratives Work Projects Administration

There were a few thousand carpetbaggers in each State, with, at first, a much larger number of scalawags.
The Sequel of Appomattox Walter Lynwood Fleming

This was prior to the advent of carpetbaggers and organization in Alabama of the Republican party.
When the Ku Klux Rode Eyre Damer

City and county taxes, where carpetbaggers were in control, increased in the same way.
The Sequel of Appomattox Walter Lynwood Fleming

The Negroes were given minor positions when offices were more plentiful than carpetbaggers.
The Sequel of Appomattox Walter Lynwood Fleming

He scared de Yankees and carpetbaggers and all sech folks as dem away from our country.
Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves Work Projects Administration

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.

Northerners who went to the South after the Civil War to take part in Reconstruction governments, when persons who had supported the Confederacy were not allowed to hold public office (see Fourteenth Amendment). Some of them arrived, according to legend, carrying only one carpetbag, which symbolized their lack of permanent interest in the place they pretended to serve.

Note: Carpetbagger is still a general term for nonresident politicians who exploit their districts.


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