Mark Lause lause at
Wed Mar 14 21:01:12 MST 2001

Tony, you are confusing what was done by "carpetbaggers"--Northerners living
in the post-Civil War South--with what the politicians in Washington did.
The defeated slaveholders coined the term "carpetbagger" (a good enough
excuse not to use it), along with "scalywags" for Southern whites who
weren't willing to go along with their restorationist agenda..

Since you'd definately fall into the latter category, I'd not use the
related term "carpetbagger".


PS: As to the reality of the term, the largest single category of
"carpetbaggers" were schoolteachers, mostly women.  Public education was
almost nonexistent in most of the South before the war.  So it all had to be
built from scratch.  Probably the only time in US history that virtually
anyone who wanted to teach could land a job.  :-)

Tony Abdo wrote:

> 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
> racism.
> 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
> office.>
> 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
> population.
> Lou-
> <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
> South.
> 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
> North.

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