After the destruction of lives and gratuitous devastation at the command of General Sherman, the South was ripe for corruption from the North and those politicians who sought to virtually punish the South for its "rebellion." Greedy and unconscionable carpetbaggers came to the tragically defeated Southern states and exploited the indigent landowners purchasing their plantations sometimes just for the price of the taxes, and making other profitable financial gains. Others with aspirations of political gain promised freed, destitute, illiterate, and vulnerable former slaves, who had been released with virtually no place to go, the false "forty acres and a mule" and enrolled them into the Republican party. Those called "scalawags" were the white men who also joined this new Republican party of the South, hoping for personal gain as well. Their intentions were not noble, to say the least. For, while Presidents Lincoln and Johnson undertook policies that were designed to return the South as quickly as possible to some sort of normalcy,
...the Radical Republicans used Congress to block the president, impose harsh terms, and upgrade the rights of the Freedmen (the ex-slaves).
Wielding such power, the "Radical Republicans" caused the Southerners who had participated in the war to become disenfranchised citizens. However, the Democrats were also culpable of exploitation as evinced in the writing of Southern historians. For instance, one writes,
On economic matters scalawags and Democrats eagerly sought aid for economic development of projects in which they had an economic stake, and they exhibited few scruples in the methods used to push beneficial financial legislation through the state legislature. The quality of the bookkeeping habits of both Republicans and Democrats was equally notorious.