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In United States history, "carpetbaggers" was a negative term Southerners gave to Northerners (also referred to as Yankees) who moved to the South during the Reconstruction era, between 1865 and 1877. It was a derogatory term, suggesting opportunism and exploitation in the outsiders. The relocated northerners often formed alliances with freed slaves and southern whites who were Republicans, who were nicknamed scalawags. Together they are 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. Carpetbagger is not to be confused with copperhead, which is a term given to a person from the North who sympathized with the Southern claim of right to Secession.
The term carpetbaggers was also used to describe the white Northern Republican political appointees who came South, arriving with their travel carpetbags. Southerners considered them ready to loot and plunder the defeated South.
In modern usage in the U.S., the term is sometimes used derisively to refer to a politician who runs for public office in an area where he or she does not have deep community ties, or has lived only for a short time. In the United Kingdom, the term was adopted to refer informally to those who join a mutual organization, such as a building society, in order to force it to demutualize, that is, to convert into a joint stock company, solely for personal financial gain.
- 1 Background information
- 2 Examples of prominent carpetbaggers in state politics
- 3 Historiography
- 4 Modern usage
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
Beginning in 1862 thousands of Northern abolitionists and other reformers moved to areas in the South where secession by the Confederates states had failed. Many school teachers and religious missionaries arrived in the South, some sponsored by northern churches. Some were abolitionists who sought to continue the struggle for racial equality; they often became agents of the federal Freedmen's Bureau, which started operations in 1865 to assist the vast numbers of recently emancipated freedmen. The bureau established public schools in rural areas of the South where public schools had not previously existed. Other Northerners who moved to the South participated in establishing railroads where infrastructure was lacking.
During the time African-American families had been enslaved, they were prohibited from education and learning literacy. Southern states had no public school systems, and the planter elite sent their children to private schools. After the war, thousands of Northern white women moved South; many to teach newly freed African-American children.
While many Northerners went South with reformist impulses, not all Northerners who went South were reformers.
Many carpetbaggers were businessmen who purchased or leased plantations and became wealthy landowners, hiring freedmen to do the labor. Most were former Union soldiers eager to invest their savings in this promising new frontier, and civilians lured south by press reports of "the fabulous sums of money to be made in the South in raising cotton." Foner notes that "joined with the quest for profit, however, was a reforming spirit, a vision of themselves as agents of sectional reconciliation and the South's "economic regeneration." Accustomed to viewing Southerners—black and white—as devoid of economic initiative and self-discipline, they believed that only "Northern capital and energy" could bring "the blessings of a free labor system to the region."
Carpetbaggers tended to be well educated and middle class in origin. Some had been lawyers, businessmen, newspaper editors, Union Army members and other pillars of Northern communities. The majority (including 52 of the 60 who served in Congress during Reconstruction) were veterans of the Union Army.
Leading "black carpetbaggers" believed the interests of capital and labor identical, and the freedmen entitled to little more than an "honest chance in the race of life."
Many Northern and Southern Republicans shared a modernizing vision of upgrading the Southern economy and society, one that would replace the inefficient Southern plantation regime with railroads, factories and more efficient farming. They actively promoted public schooling and created numerous colleges and universities. The Northerners were especially successful in taking control of Southern railroads, abetted by state legislatures. In 1870 Northerners controlled 21% of the South's railroads (by mileage); 19% of the directors were from the North. By 1890 they controlled 88% of the mileage; 47% of the directors were from the North.
Examples of prominent carpetbaggers in state politics
Union Gen. Adelbert Ames, a native of Massachusetts, was appointed military governor and later was elected as Republican governor of Mississippi during the Reconstruction era. Ames tried unsuccessfully to ensure equal rights for black Mississippians. His political battles with the Southerners and African Americans ripped apart his party.
The "Black and Tan" (biracial) constitutional convention in Mississippi in 1868 included 29 southerners, 17 freedmen and 24 nonsoutherners, nearly all of whom were veterans of the Union Army. They included four men who had lived in the South before the war, two of whom had served in the Confederate States Army. Among the more prominent were Gen. Beroth B. Eggleston, a native of New York; Col. A. T. Morgan, of the Second Wisconsin Volunteers; Gen. W. S. Barry, former commander of a Colored regiment raised in Kentucky; an Illinois general and lawyer who graduated from Knox College; Maj. W. H. Gibbs, of the Fifteenth Illinois infantry; Judge W. B. Cunningham, of Pennsylvania; and Cap. E. J. Castello, of the Seventh Missouri infantry. They were among the founders of the Republican party in Mississippi.
They were prominent in the politics of the state until 1875, but nearly all left Mississippi in 1875 to 1876 under pressure from the Red Shirts and White Liners. These white paramilitary organizations, described as "the military arm of the Democratic Party", worked openly to violently overthrow Republican rule, using intimidation and assassination to turn Republicans out of office and suppress freedmen's voting.
Albert T. Morgan, the Republican sheriff of Yazoo, Mississippi, received a brief flurry of national attention when insurgent white Democrats took over the county government and forced him to flee. He later wrote Yazoo; Or, on the Picket Line of Freedom in the South (1884).
On November 6, 1875, Hiram Revels, a Mississippi Republican and the first African-American U.S. Senator, wrote a letter to President Ulysses S. Grant that was widely reprinted. Revels denounced Ames and Northerners for manipulating the Black vote for personal benefit, and for keeping alive wartime hatreds:
- Since reconstruction, the masses of my people have been, as it were, enslaved in mind by unprincipled adventurers, who, caring nothing for country, were willing to stoop to anything no matter how infamous, to secure power to themselves, and perpetuate it..... My people have been told by these schemers, when men have been placed on the ticket who were notoriously corrupt and dishonest, that they must vote for them; that the salvation of the party depended upon it; that the man who scratched a ticket was not a Republican. This is only one of the many means these unprincipled demagogues have devised to perpetuate the intellectual bondage of my people.... The bitterness and hate created by the late civil strife has, in my opinion, been obliterated in this state, except perhaps in some localities, and would have long since been entirely obliterated, were it not for some unprincipled men who would keep alive the bitterness of the past, and inculcate a hatred between the races, in order that they may aggrandize themselves by office, and its emoluments, to control my people, the effect of which is to degrade them.
Corruption was a charge made by Democrats in North Carolina against the Republicans, notes the historian Paul Escott, "because its truth was apparent." The historians Eric Foner and W.E.B. Du Bois have noted that Democrats as well as Republicans received bribes and participated in decisions about the railroad. Gen. Milton S. Littlefield, was dubbed the "Prince of Carpetbaggers," and bought votes in the legislature "to support grandiose and fraudulent railroad schemes." Escott concludes that some Democrats were involved, but Republicans "bore the main responsibility for the issue of $28 million in state bonds for railroads and the accompanying corruption. This sum, enormous for the time, aroused great concern." Foner says Littlefield disbursed $200,000 (bribes) to win support in the legislature for state money for his railroads, and Democrats as well as Republicans were guilty of taking the bribes and making the decisions on the railroad. North Carolina Democrats condemned the legislature's "depraved villains, who take bribes every day;" one local Republican officeholder complained, "I deeply regret the course of some of our friends in the Legislature as well as out of it in regard to financial matters, it is very embarrassing indeed."
Extravagance and corruption increased taxes and the costs of government in a state that had always favored low expenditure, Escott pointed out. The context was that a planter elite kept taxes low because it benefited them. They used their money toward private ends rather than public investment. None of the states had established public school systems before the Reconstruction state legislatures created them, and they had systematically underinvested in infrastructure such as roads and railroads. Planters whose properties occupied prime riverfront locations relied on river transportation, but smaller farmers in the backcountry suffered.
Escott claimed, "Some money went to very worthy causes— the 1869 legislature, for example, passed a school law that began the rebuilding and expansion of the state's public schools. But far too much was wrongly or unwisely spent" to aid the Republican Party leadership. A Republican county commissioner in Alamance eloquently denounced the situation: "Men are placed in power who instead of carrying out their duties . . . form a kind of school for to graduate Rascals. Yes if you will give them a few Dollars they will liern you for an accomplished Rascal. This is in reference to the taxes that are rung from the labouring class of people. Without a speedy reformation I will have to resign my post."
Albion W. Tourgée, formerly of Ohio and a friend of Pres. James A. Garfield, moved to North Carolina, where he practiced as a lawyer and was appointed a judge. He once opined that "Jesus Christ was a carpetbagger." Tourgée later wrote A Fool's Errand, a largely autobiographical novel about an idealistic carpetbagger persecuted by the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina.
A politician in South Carolina who was called a carpetbagger was Daniel Henry Chamberlain, a New Englander who had served as an officer of a predominantly black regiment of the United States Colored Troops. He was appointed South Carolina's attorney general from 1868 to 1872 and was elected Republican governor from 1874 to 1877. As a result of the national Compromise of 1877, Chamberlain lost his office. He was narrowly re-elected in a campaign marked by egregious voter fraud and violence against freedmen by Democratic Red Shirts, who succeeded in suppressing the black vote in some majority-black counties. While serving in South Carolina, Chamberlain was a strong supporter of Negro rights.
Some historians of the early 1930s, who belonged to the Dunning School that believed that the Reconstruction era was fatally flawed claimed that Chamberlain was later influenced by Social Darwinism to become a white supremacist. They also wrote that he supported states' rights and laissez-faire in the economy. They portrayed "liberty" in 1896 as the right to rise above the rising tide of equality. Chamberlain was said to justify white supremacy by arguing that, in evolutionary terms, the Negro obviously belonged to an inferior social order.
Charles Stearns, also from Massachusetts, wrote an account of his experience in South Carolina: The Black Man of the South, and the Rebels: Or, the Characteristics of the Former and the Recent Outrages of the Latter (1873).
Francis Lewis Cardozo, a black minister from New Haven, Connecticut, served as a delegate to South Carolina's Constitutional Convention (1868). He made eloquent speeches advocating that the plantations be broken up and distributed among the freedmen. They wanted their own land to farm and believed they had already paid for land by their years of uncompensated labor and the trials of slavery.
Henry C. Warmoth was the Republican governor of Louisiana from 1868 to 1874. As governor, Warmoth was plagued by accusations of corruption, which continued to be a matter of controversy long after his death. He was accused of using his position as governor to trade in state bonds for his personal benefit. In addition, the newspaper company which he owned received a contract from the state government. Warmoth supported the franchise for freedmen.
He struggled to lead the state during the years when the White League, a white Democratic paramilitary organization, conducted an open campaign of violence and intimidation against Republicans, including freedmen, with the goals of regaining Democratic power and white supremacy. They ran Republicans out of office, were responsible for the Coushatta Massacre, disrupted Republican organizing, and preceded elections with such intimidation and violence that black voting was sharply reduced. Warmoth stayed in Louisiana after Reconstruction and following the white Democrats' regaining political power in the state. He died in 1931 at age 89.
George E. Spencer was a prominent Republican U.S. Senator. His 1872 reelection campaign in Alabama opened him to allegations of "political betrayal of colleagues; manipulation of Federal patronage; embezzlement of public funds; purchase of votes; and intimidation of voters by the presence of Federal troops." He was a major speculator in a distressed financial paper.
Tunis Campbell, a black New York businessman, was hired in 1863 by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton to help former slaves in Port Royal, South Carolina. When the Civil War ended, Campbell was assigned to the Sea Islands of Georgia, where he engaged in an apparently successful land reform program for the benefit of the freedmen. He eventually became vice-chair of the Georgia Republican Party, a state senator and the head of an African-American militia which he hoped to use against the Ku Klux Klan.
William Hines Furbush, born a slave in Kentucky in 1839, received an education in Ohio, and migrated to Helena, Arkansas in 1862. Back in Ohio in February 1865, he joined the Forty-second Colored Infantry at Columbus. After the war Furbush migrated to Liberia through the American Colonization Society. He returned to Ohio after 18 months and moved back to Arkansas by 1870.[Wintory 2004] Furbush was elected to two terms in the Arkansas House of Representatives, 1873–74 (Phillips County) and 1879–80 (Lee County).
In 1873 the state passed a civil rights law. Furbush and three other black leaders, including the bill's primary sponsor state Sen. Richard A. Dawson, sued a Little Rock barkeeper for refusing to serve the group service. The suit resulted in the only successful Reconstruction prosecution under the state's civil rights law. In the legislature Furbush worked to create a new county, Lee, from portions of Phillips, Crittenden, Monroe and St. Francis counties.
Following the end of his 1873 legislative term, Furbush was appointed sheriff by Republican Governor Elisha Baxter. Furbush won reelection as sheriff twice and served from 1873 to 1878. During his term, he adopted a policy of "fusion," a post-Reconstruction power-sharing compromise between Democrats and Republicans. Furbush was originally elected as a Republican, but he switched to the Democratic Party at the end of his time as sheriff. In 1878, Furbush was again elected to the Arkansas House. His election is noteworthy because he was elected as a black Democrat in an election season notorious for white intimidation of black and Republican voters in black-majority eastern Arkansas. Furbush is the first known black Democrat elected to the Arkansas General Assembly.
In March 1879 Furbush left Arkansas for Colorado, where he worked as an assayer and barber. In Bonanza, Colorado he avoided a lynch mob after shooting and killing a town constable. At the trial he was acquitted of murder. He returned to Little Rock, Arkansas, by 1888, following another stay in Ohio.
In 1889, he and E. A. Fulton, a fellow black Democrat, announced plans for the National Democrat, a party weekly intended to attract black voters to the Democratic Party. After failing to attract black voters and following white Democrats' passage of the Arkansas 1891 Election Law that disfranchised most black voters, Furbush left the state. He traveled to South Carolina and Georgia, but they soon disfranchised black voters, too.
The last stop of Furbush was in October 1901 at Marion, Indiana's National Home for Disabled Veterans. He died there on September 3, 1902. He was interred at the Marion National Cemetery.
Carpetbaggers were least visible in Texas. Republicans were in power from 1867 to January 1874. Only one state official and one justice of the state supreme court were Northerners. About 13% to 21% of district court judges were Northerners, along with about 10% of the delegates who wrote the Reconstruction constitution of 1869. Of the 142 men who served in the 12th Legislature, only 12 to 29 were Northerners. At the county level, they included about 10% of the commissioners, county judges and sheriffs.
New Yorker George T. Ruby was sent as an agent by the Freedmen's Bureau to Galveston, Texas, where he settled. Later elected a Texas state senator, Ruby was instrumental in various economic development schemes and in efforts to organize African-American dockworkers into the Labor Union of Colored Men. When Reconstruction ended Ruby became a leader of the Exoduster movement, which encouraged Southern blacks to homestead in Kansas to escape white supremacist violence and the oppression of segregation.
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.
Carpetbagger is often used to describe a politician who runs for office in a place with which he or she previously had no connection.
- In 1964, Robert Kennedy moved to New York to run for the Senate and deflected the carpetbagger image with humor, opening one speech with, "My fellow New Yorkites!" Similarly, in 2000, many New Yorkers considered Hillary Clinton to be a "carpetbagger" when she moved to New York to run for the Senate (both Kennedy and Clinton were elected).
- Some Texans considered George W. Bush to be a carpetbagger during his unsuccessful 1978 congressional campaign against Democrat Kent Hance, as he was born in Connecticut and educated at Andover and Yale; however, Bush did spend much of his childhood and pre-political career in Texas. Questions of whether Bush was sufficiently "Texan" resurfaced to a lesser extent during his 1994 gubernatorial campaign, which he ultimately won.
- Jeb Bush (born February 11, 1953), brother to George W. Bush, was elected the 43rd governor of Florida. Some consider him a good example of a "modern-day carpetbagger," though he relocated from Texas to Florida several years prior to starting his political career there.
- Elizabeth Dole was accused by some of being a carpetbagger when, in 2002, she ran for the North Carolina Senate seat being vacated by Jesse Helms. Although Dole was a native of North Carolina, she had moved out of the state as a young woman (her husband is Bob Dole, who served for many years as a U.S. Senator from Kansas) and only returned more than four decades later to run for the Senate; she ultimately won the election.
- During the Massachusetts gubernatorial election of 2002, businessman Mitt Romney was accused by his opponent, then-Treasurer and Receiver-General of Massachusetts Shannon O'Brien, as well as other Democratic party officials as being ineligible to run due to alleged failures to meet state residency requirements, due to the fact that he had resided in Utah from 1999 to early 2002 to plan the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The Massachusetts State Ballot Law Commission ultimately ruled that Romney, who subsequently won the election, was eligible to run for governor.
- In 2004 Republican Alan Keyes was called a carpetbagger when he moved to Illinois only one month before the election for senator, which he lost to Barack Obama.
- John McCain was also accused of being a carpetbagger in his first congressional election in 1982. McCain responded by pointing out that due to his father's military service, his own military service and his time as a prisoner of war in Hanoi he had never lived in any one place for very long.
- In 2009 accountant Doug Hoffman (C-NY) and then-Lt. Gov. of California John Garamendi (D-CA), who respectively ran for special House elections in New York's 23rd congressional district and California's 10th congressional district, were each accused of being carpetbaggers.
- See also: Parachute candidate
In Harold Robbins' novel The Carpetbaggers, the word has the generic meaning of a presumptuous newcomer who enters a new territory seeking success. In this case, the territory is the movie industry, and the newcomer is a wealthy heir to an industrial fortune who, like Howard Hughes, simultaneously pursued aviation and moviemaking avocations.
Florida novelist Carl Hiaasen also uses the term frequently, especially in his first novel, Tourist Season. The word refers to both politicians and business leaders who have emigrated to Florida from elsewhere in the United States, seeking opportunity. His recurring fictional character, ex-governor Clinton Tyree is portrayed as a rarity for being one of the few candidates for that office born and raised in the state. It is a consistent theme in Hiaasen's novels that these "transplants," have no memory of Florida's ecology before the days of rampant development, and so have no compunction in targeting what remains of the wilderness for destruction.
Template:More Carpetbagging was used as a term in Britain in the late 1990s during the wave of demutualizations of building societies. It indicated members of the public who joined mutual societies with the hope of making a quick profit from the conversion. Contemporarily speaking, the term carpetbagger refers to roving financial opportunists, often of modest means, who spot investment opportunities and aim to benefit from a set of circumstances to which they are not ordinarily entitled. In recent years the best opportunities for carpetbaggers have come from opening membership accounts at building societies for as little as £1, to qualify for windfalls running into thousands of pounds from the process of conversion and takeover. The influx of such transitory ‘token’ members as carpetbaggers, took advantage of these nugatory deposit criteria, often to instigate or accelerate the trend towards wholesale demutualisation.
Investors in these mutuals would receive shares in the new public companies, usually distributed at a flat rate, thus equally benefiting small and large investors, and providing a broad incentive for members to vote for conversion-advocating leadership candidates. The word was first used in this context in early 1997 by the chief executive of the Woolwich Building Society, who announced the society's conversion with rules removing the most recent new savers' entitlement to potential windfalls and stated in a media interview, "I have no qualms about disenfranchising carpetbaggers."
Between 1997 and 2002, a group of pro-demutualization supporters “Members for Conversion” operated a website, carpetbagger.com, which highlighted the best ways of opening share accounts with UK building societies, and organized demutualization resolutions.  This led many building societies to implement anti-carpetbagging policies, such as not accepting new deposits from customers who lived outside the normal operating area of the society. The Derbyshire Building Society became famously known as The Fortress as, for a number of years, it insisted on a minimum balance on savings accounts of £10,000.
World War II
During World War II, the U.S. Office of Strategic Services surreptitiously supplied necessary tools and material to anti-Nazi resistance groups in Europe. The OSS called this effort Operation Carpetbagger, and the modified B-24 aircraft used for the night-time missions were referred to as "carpetbaggers." (Among other special features, they were painted a non-glare black to make them less visible.) Between January and September 1944, Operation Carpetbagger ran 2,263 sorties between RAF Harrington, England, and various points in occupied Europe.
- Davidson, Gienapp, Heyrman, Lytle, Stoff. Nation of Nations: A Concise Narrative of the American Republic, 3rd edition, New York: McGraw Hill, 2002
- Sarah Woolfolk Wiggins, The Scalawag in Alabama Politics. 1865–1881, Birmingham: University of Alabama Press. 1991.
- Richard Nelson Current, Those Terrible Carpetbaggers, New York: Oxford University Press. 1988.
- Williams, Heather Andrea, Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom, University of North Carolina Press, 2006
- Those Terrible Carpetbaggers by Richard Nelson Current. Oxford University Press.1988
- Foner, 1988, pp. 137
- Foner 1988 pp 294–295
- Foner 1988 pp 289
- Klein 1968 p. 269
- Garner (1902); Harris (1979)
- George C. Rable, But There Was No Peace: The Role of Violence in the Politics of Reconstruction, Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1984, p.132
- Nicholas Lemann, Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War, New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, paperback, 2007, pp.80-87
- Garner 187–88
- Full text in Garner, pp. 399–400.
- Escott 160
- Foner, 1988, pp. 387
- Nicholas Lemann, Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War, New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, paperback, 2007
- Simkins and Woody. (1932)
- Foner (1968)
- Woolfolk (1966); Foner (1968) p 295
- Foner Freedom's Lawmakers p. 79; Wintory 2004, 2006; Daniel Phillips Upham; Gov. Powell Clayton
- Campbell (1994)
- Matthews, Race (2000-04-16). "Looting the Mutuals: The Ethics and Economics of Demutualisation. Background Paper for an Address on "Succession and Continuance of Mutuals"". Brisbane. http://www.australia.coop/rm_lm_2000.htm. Retrieved 2008-08-04
- Patrick Sherwen (1999-12-04). "New king's decree favours 'democratic' way". The Guardian (Manchester). http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/1999/dec/04/efinance.demutualisation. "Mr Yendall offered to take charge of an attack by carpetbagger.com on three building societies before the new rules came into effect and beat the deadline by a matter of hours."
- Rupert Jones (2001-07-21). "Demutualisation: Rolling up the carpet: Nationwide delivers fatal blow to the latest campaign to change its status". The Guardian (Manchester). http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2001/jul/21/personalfinancenews.jobsandmoney3. Retrieved 2008-08-04.
- Ash, Stephen V. When the Yankees Came: Conflict and Chaos in the Occupied South, 1861–1865 University of North Carolina Press, 1995.
- Barnes, Kenneth C. Who Killed John Clayton. Duke University Press, 1998; violence in Arkansas.
- Brown, Canter, Jr. "Carpetbagger Intrigues, Black Leadership, and a Southern Loyalist Triumph: Florida's Gubernatorial Election of 1872" Florida Historical Quarterly, 1994 72 (3): 275–301. ISSN 0015-4113. Shows how African Americans joined Redeemers to defeat corrupt carpetbagger running for reelection.
- Bryant, Emma Spaulding. Emma Spaulding Bryant: Civil War Bride, Carpetbagger's Wife, Ardent Feminist; Letters and Diaries, 1860–1900 Fordham University Press, 2004. 503 pp.
- Campbell, Randolph B. "Carpetbagger Rule in Reconstruction Texas: an Enduring Myth." Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 1994 97 (4): 587–596. ISSN 0038-478X
- Richard Nelson Current. Those Terrible Carpetbaggers: A Reinterpretation (1988), a favorable view.
- Currie-Mcdaniel, Ruth. Carpetbagger of Conscience: A Biography of John Emory Bryant, Fordham University Press, 1999; religious reformer in South Carolina.
- Davidson, Gienapp, Heyrman, Lytle, Stoff. Nation of Nations: A Concise Narrative of the American Republic. 3rd. New York: McGraw Hill, 2002.
- Durden, Robert Franklin; James Shepherd Pike: Republicanism and the American Negro, 1850–1882 Duke University Press, 1957
- Paul D. Escott; Many Excellent People: Power and Privilege in North Carolina, 1850–1900, University of North Carolina Press, 1985.
- Fleming, Walter L. Documentary History of Reconstruction: Political, Military, Social, Religious, Educational, and Industrial 2 vol 1906. Uses broad collection of primary sources.
- Foner, Eric. Freedom's Lawmakers: A Directory Of Black Officeholders During Reconstruction, Oxford University Press, 1993, Revised, 1996, LSU Press.
- Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877 (1988). Harper & Row, 1988, recent standard history.
- Fowler, Wilton B. "A Carpetbagger's Conversion to White Supremacy." North Carolina Historical Review, 1966 43 (3): 286–304. ISSN 0029-2494
- Garner, James Wilford. Reconstruction in Mississippi (1902)
- Harris, William C. The Day of the Carpetbagger: Republican Reconstruction in Mississippi Louisiana State University Press, 1979.
- Harris, William C. "James Lynch: Black Leader in Southern Reconstruction," Historian 1971 34 (1): 40–61. ISSN 0018-2370; Lynch was Mississippi's first African American secretary of state.
- Klein, Maury. "Southern Railroad Leaders, 1865–1893: Identities and Ideologies" Business History Review, 1968 42 (3): 288–310. ISSN 0007-6805 Fulltext in JSTOR.
- Morrow, Ralph E.; Northern Methodism and Reconstruction Michigan State University Press, 1956.
- Olsen, Otto H. Carpetbagger's Crusade: The Life of Albion Winegar Tourgee (1965)
- Post, Louis F. "A 'Carpetbagger' in South Carolina," The Journal of Negro History Vol. 10, No. 1 (Jan., 1925), pp. 10–79 in JSTOR; autobiography.
- Simkins, Francis Butler, and Robert Hilliard Woody. South Carolina during Reconstruction (1932).
- Tunnell, Ted. Edge of the Sword: The Ordeal of Carpetbagger Marshall H. Twitchell in the Civil War and Reconstruction. LSU Press, 2001, on Louisiana.
- Tunnell, Ted. "Creating 'the Propaganda of History': Southern Editors and the Origins of Carpetbagger and Scalawag," Journal of Southern History, (Nov 2006) 72#4.
- Twitchell, Marshall Harvey. Carpetbagger from Vermont: The Autobiography of Marshall Harvey Twitchell. ed by Ted Tunnell; Louisiana State University Press, 1989. 216 pp.
- Wiggins, Sarah Woolfolk; The Scalawag in Alabama Politics, 1865–1881. University of Alabama Press, 1991
- Wintory, Blake. "William Hines Furbush: African-American Carpetbagger, Republican, Fusionist, and Democrat," Arkansas Historical Quarterly, 2004 63 (2): 107–165. ISSN 0004-1823
- Wintory, Blake. "William Hines Furbush (1839–1902)" Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture (2006).
- Woolfolk, Sarah Van V. "George E. Spencer: a Carpetbagger in Alabama," Alabama Review, 1966 19 (1): 41–52. ISSN 0002-4341
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