- U.S. History. a Northerner who went to the South after the Civil War and became active in Republican politics, especially so as to profiteer from the unsettled social and political conditions of the area during Reconstruction.
- a politician who takes up residence in a place and runs for office without having strong ties to the area.
- any opportunistic or exploitive outsider: Our bus company has served this town for years, but now the new one run by carpetbaggers from the city is stealing our business.
- a politician who seeks public office in a locality where he has no real connections
- British a person who makes a short-term investment in a mutual savings or life-assurance organization in order to benefit from free shares issued following the organization’s conversion to a public limited company
- US a Northern White who went to the South after the Civil War to profit from Reconstruction
also carpet-bagger, 1868, American English, scornful appellation for Northerners who went South after the fall of the CSA seeking private gain or political advancement. The name is based on the image of men arriving with all their worldly goods in a big carpetbag. Sense later extended to any opportunist from out of the area.
Northerners who went to the South after the Civil War to take part in Reconstruction governments, when persons who had supported the Confederacy were not allowed to hold public office (see Fourteenth Amendment). Some of them arrived, according to legend, carrying only one carpetbag, which symbolized their lack of permanent interest in the place they pretended to serve.