Tony Abdo aabdo at
Wed Mar 14 18:37:57 MST 2001

I certainly never meant to open a debate about the Reconstruction Era in
US history by using the word 'carpetbagger'.     In fact, I referred to
an era of about 80 years where the South was marginalized economically
after its defeat by the North.    Reconstruction was an extremely brief
period of time lasting less than a decade.

But let's touch on the word 'carpetbagger' briefly, since we seem forced
to do so by those who want to label any derision of 'carpetbaggers' as

Lou says...
<The period that the southerners look back on as its darkest hour is the
greatest time, from the viewpoint of socialists and civil rights
activists: reconstruction. Reconstruction did not punish the south. It
made black people equal before the law and allowed them to win electoral

What Southerners, Lou?      You seemed to have mysteriously changed the
word 'racists' for 'southerners'!       The two words should not be
synonymous in your mind.

I agree with you about Reconstruction being a most promising time for
the South.       But what was the least promising time for the South?
It was the disintegration of Reconstruction.

I submit that it was precisely when the carpetbaggers sold out Black
interests that we see the darkest hour of the South.   These
administrators tied to the Union army presence, publicly started out
stating support of reforms to benefit the former slaves.     But they
hobnobbed with the race and class that they were supposed to be holding
in check.    And they often were hypocritical; voicing one opinion in
public, and another behind the scenes with cronies amongst the White

<When you spat out at "carpetbaggers", you were echoing this tradition
whether in your heart you are a racist or not. And I don't think you
are. In reality, carpetbaggers were the main allies of blacks trying to
gain equality during reconstruction. The whites who cooperated with the
blacks and the carpetbaggers were called "scalawags". Needless to say,
we favored carpetbaggers and scalawags during reconstruction.>

When the Union army was withdrawn, these carpetbaggers (Whites allied
with the Union army, but not so much the Black population) quickly
showed where their hearts lay.     Their hearts were into maintaining
their own personal positions of power, whether through allying
themselves with the reemerging Southern White aristocracy, or being
allied with the Union army's command and the federal government.

Maybe I assume to much on this list called...*marxism*.       But I
wrote not to counter the Dixiecrat version of history (which has no
adherents here), but rather to counter a majority current in US Leftist
circles that has 'given up' on trying to do much organizing here in the

I agree with the interpretation of Reconstruction in the article you
submitted, Lou.

Best wishes, Tony

When I was growing up in South Carolina during the 1930s, everyone was
sure what had happened. The defeated South had wanted only to return to
its old place in the Union, but rascally carpetbaggers from the North
and unprincipled native-born scalawags had together manipulated the
ignorant black freedmen to gain control of the various state
governments. Backed by the presence of federal troops, they embarked on
an orgy of corruption, greed and waste, humiliating and impoverishing
the helpless South and spoiling the hitherto-trusting relationship
between blacks and whites.

At length, the nation grew weary of the corruption and cost of
maintaining troops in the South, the Army was withdrawn, and the
responsible white citizenry regained control of their own governments.

Such was the legend. In the 1930s and thereafter, however, a rather
different interpretation of what had happened began to emerge. It turned
out that blacks had at no time dominated the Reconstruction governments
and that only a small number of ex-Confederates were ever kept from
voting. There was no more corruption in the post-1865 South than
elsewhere in the nation during the Gilded Age. Some carpetbaggers were
dishonest fortune seekers, but by no means all of them. The real issue
of stake had been the white South's refusal to allow the former slaves
to vote; most of the violence of the period was perpetrated by whites in
pursuit of that aim.

The Reconstruction governments had attempted to introduce biracial
democracy, and the state constitutions they wrote provided, usually for
the first time ever, free public schools and other services that were
thereafter retained. The "tragedy" of the Reconstruction consisted of
the failure to enfranchise the black man and institute genuine
democracy, a failure that was caused by the white South's intransigence
and the virtual desertion of the landless and helpless blacks by the

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