With the rapid expansion of railroads in the 1840’s and 1850’s
. Ordinary people were traveling in large numbers, and there
was an need for cheap luggage ,so thousands of carpetbags were
manufactured. They were made by saddle makers in many town and
cities and were many sizes and shape. They were called Carpetbags
because the makers would buy old carpets and construct the
bags from the pieces of carpet that were not completely worn
out. This how Carpet bags could be manufactured cheaply , they
sold in Dry Goods for $1 to $2.
By the 1860’s carpetbags were carried by all most
everyone, Men, Women, well to do , middle class and not so
well to do. Carpetbags were the first suitcases made in large
numbers. When you traveled during the Civil War (1861-1865)
and though the 1870, you packed your Carpetbag . This became a
way to identify an outsider (traveler).
During the civil war Reconstruction Period (1865-1870) many
people for the Northern States went South because it was so
poor that there many opportunities for a person with money
even a little money. For example you could own a farm by
paying the past due taxes for as little as $25. These
Opportunities attacked all sorts people from honest hard
working farmers, to crooks, charlatans, con artist and of
course crooked politicians. All these outsiders (identified by
their Carpetbag) were called Carpetbaggers and still are in
many places. It became the term to refer to a Yankee who moved
to the south and usually meant a “damn Yankee and not to be
trusted, a scoundrel”. Probably the worst Carpetbaggers were
the politicians who used their positions in the corrupt Reconstruction
Government to enrich themselves through bribes, graft and
other despicable acts at the expense of native Southerners.
Today the dictionary defines a Carpetbagger as “ an outsider
involved in politics”.