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Carpetbagger, Northerner who moved into the South during the Reconstruction after the Civil War. Although many such Northerners legitimately ran businesses and were elected to office on the Republican ticket (with the help of newly enfranchised African Americans), the term is generally used to apply to those corrupt opportunists who sought to make their fortunes and seize political power out of postwar chaos, earning a reputation for graft and wasteful spending.

See also: Reconstruction.

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