Woodrow Wilson described them as men bent on "an expedition of profit," who used "the negroes as tools for their own selfish ends." Horace Greeley, while running for President, denounced them as "fellows who crawled down South in the track of our armies, generally at a very safe distance in the rear." The South, in turn, hotly condemned them as "the larvae of the North," "vulturous adventurers," and "vile, oily, odious."
Richard Nelson Current's eye-opening study challenges this prevailing image of the men from the North who came to be known as "carpetbaggers." Weaving together biographies of ten of these men, Current--the eminent Civil War historian--offers a provocative revisionist history of the Reconstruction and what historians have long considered its "most disgraceful" episode. Set within the larger context of congressional politics and the history of individual Southern states, the volume reveals a group of mostly highly-educated men, almost all of whom had served with distinction in the Union Army (three were generals), and several of whom brought their own money down South to help rebuild a war-torn land.
Current's vividly-told narrative captures the passions of this tumultuous period as he documents the careers and private lives of these ten prominent men. Moreover, he provides a major reinterpretation of the entire Reconstruction era and the effort to establish a biracial democratic government in the South. This brilliant collective biography will force us to rethink our views of this controversial epoch in American history.show more