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Scalawag

SCALAWAG

SCALAWAG, originally used to describe runty or diseased cattle, was the term of opprobrium applied to white southerners who joined with former slaves and carpet-baggers in support of Republican policies during the Reconstruction period that followed the Civil War. In the states of the upper South, white Republicans were generally hill-country farmers with Unionist sympathies. Those in the Deep South came from elements of the planter-business aristocracy with Whig antecedents. Neither group was committed to black rights or suffrage, but their role in Reconstruction was important. Constituting approximately 20 percent of the white electorate, they often provided the crucial margin of victory for the Republicans. In the constitutional conventions of 1867–1868 and in the subsequent state governments, they exerted leadership disproportionate to their popular strength.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution 1863– 1877. New York: Harper and Row, 1988.

William G.Shade/c. p.

See alsoKu Klux Klan ; Reconstruction ; Sectionalism .

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Scalawags

SCALAWAGS


"Scalawag" was a derogatory term used by recalcitrant white southerners after the Civil War and during the dozen years of Reconstruction (18651877). It was applied to those white southerners who cooperated with the Union troops and with the Reconstruction State legislatures. Many of these "Scalawags" came from small farm, non-slaveholding backgrounds and in fact had resented the southern planter class and its slave system even before the Civil War. They felt correctly that the existence of slavery hurt them too, because slave labor depressed the bargaining power of wage labor. They argued that slaves would always impoverish its non-slave-owning white neighbors. The Scalawags and many former slaves tried to join the Republican Party in the South to secure their status as full southern citizens. The majority of southern whites, however, looked at the Scalawags with contempt. In their eyes, the Scalawags were traitors to the southern cause and to their fellow whites. Some of these defeated members of the Confederacy joined paramilitary groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Mississippi "Red Shirts" and others. They wanted to intimidate or, in some cases, to kill both the former slaves who were trying to secure their new rights and the Scalawags, who were trying to build an alliance with the exslaves in the southern Republican Party. The intimidation worked, for the most part, and the Republican Party never established itself in the postCivil War South.

See also: Carpetbaggers

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scalawag

scal·a·wag / ˈskaləˌwag/ (also scal·ly·wag / ˈskalē-/ ) • n. inf. a person who behaves badly but in an amusingly mischievous rather than harmful way; a rascal. ∎ hist. a white Southerner who collaborated with northern Republicans during Reconstruction, often for personal profit.

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scalawags

scalawags (skăl´əwăgz), derogatory term used in the South after the Civil War to describe native white Southerners who joined the Republican party and aided in carrying out the congressional Reconstruction program. A Republican who came from the north was called a carpetbagger.

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