How were carpetbaggers and scalawags similar? 

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Carpetbaggers" and "scalawags" were both epithets coined by southern Democrats who opposed the social change of Reconstruction. Carpetbaggers were northerners who entered the region after the war (or stayed there--many had been Union Army veterans). Carpetbaggers had many different motives. Many were motivated by the economic opportunities created by a South that was forced to turn to free labor. They invested in railroads, textile mills, mines, and other ventures, or they sought patronage jobs in the new Republican administrations that emerged throughout the South during Reconstruction. But many were also driven by a desire to promote social change in the South. Judges, teachers, ministers, and other reformers came to the region out of a desire to secure fundamental rights, including political rights and education, for freedmen. Scalawags, on the other hand, were Southerners who joined the Republican Party, or at least supported Reconstruction. These men, many of whom had fought for the Confederacy during the war, were also driven by complex motives. Many were simply out to profit, or gain political influence, in the new postwar order. Others believed that the South needed to reform itself socially as well as economically to recover from the effects of the war. Few of these men held the same egalitarian beliefs about African-Americans, but many opposed the excesses of the Ku Klux Klan (who sometimes targeted them) and other Southern reactionaries. Both of these groups were vilified mercilessly by Southern Democrats during Reconstruction and in Southern memory of the period.

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