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  • Brevet Lt. Colonel Jacob Carl DeGress (USA) (1842 - 1894)
    Jacob Carl DeGress, first Texas state superintendent of schools, was born to Carl Franz Wilhelm and Johanna Walburga (di Bramino) von Gress on April 23, 1842, in Cologne, Prussia. His father left Pruss...
  • Brevet Major General William Thomas Clark (USA) (1831 - 1905)
    William Thomas Clark (June 29, 1831 – October 12, 1905) was an American soldier and politician, serving as a general in the Union army during the American Civil War and as a postbellum U.S. Congre...
  • Charles Wilson Pierce, U.S. Congress (1823 - 1907)
    Wilson Pierce, a Representative from Alabama; born in Benton, Yates County, N.Y., October 7, 1823; completed preparatory studies; moved with his father to Sandusky, Ohio, in 1829, and from there to Hun...
  • Benjamin W. Norris, U.S. Congress (1819 - 1873)
    White Norris (January 22, 1819 - January 26, 1873) was a U.S. Representative from Alabama.Early life and educationBorn in Monmouth, Maine, Norris prepared for college at Monmouth Academy, and was gradu...
  • John James Patterson, U.S. Senator (1830 - 1912)
    James Patterson (August 8, 1830 – September 28, 1912) was a businessman and United States Senator from South Carolina. Born in Waterloo, Pennsylvania, he grew up there and attended the public schools, ...


In United States history, a carpetbagger was a Northerner who moved to the South after the American Civil War, especially during the Reconstruction era (1865–1877), in order to profit from the instability and power vacuum that existed at this time.

The term carpetbagger was a pejorative term referring to the carpet bags (a fashionable form of luggage at the time) which many of these newcomers carried. The term came to be associated with opportunism and exploitation by outsiders. The term is still used today to refer to an outsider perceived as using manipulation or fraud to obtain an objective.

Together with Republicans, carpetbaggers were said to have politically manipulated and controlled former Confederate states for varying periods for their own financial and power gains. In sum, carpetbaggers were seen as insidious Northern outsiders with questionable objectives meddling in local politics, buying up plantations at fire-sale prices and taking advantage of Southerners.

The term carpetbaggers was also used to describe the Republican political appointees who came South, arriving with their travel carpet bags. Southerners considered them ready to loot and plunder the defeated South.


The Dunning school of American historians (1900–1950) viewed carpetbaggers unfavorably, arguing that they degraded the political and business culture. The revisionist school in the 1930s called them stooges of Northern business interests. After 1960 the neoabolitionist school emphasized their moral courage.

Examples of prominent carpetbaggers in state politics