| Home | Contents || What is a Scalawag? |
[ADAH Logo]US/Ala flags
| Quick Summary | Details | Bibliography | Suggested Activities |

Details gif
What is a Scalawag?

George Wallace epitomized the general lack of information about scalawags and carpetbaggers when he attacked Southern Federal judges using the phrase scallawagging carpetbaggers in his l970 gubernatorial campaign. There is no such thing as a scallawagging carpetbagger. The popular stereotype vilified and dismissed scalawags as unimportant, poor, illiterate farmers from north Alabama with no antebellum political experience, who were outclassed by carpetbaggers. But, in actuality, scalawags won many political offices during Reconstruction, and many of these scalawags were from Black Belt counties and were very influential leaders in the Alabama Republican party. Significant numbers read law or attended colleges. Most scalawag leaders were lawyers, but others were newspaper editors, businessmen, physicians, teachers, manufacturers, planters, merchants, or clergymen. Many scalawag leaders came from the state's prominent families, and many owned considerable wealth. They had extensive prewar political experience in a variety of elective and appointive offices. Most of the prominent scalawags did support Douglas or Bell in l860, although many later served in the Confederate army. Many others were ex-Confederates. They dominated state-appointed and elective positions, but won fewer federal positions than carpetbaggers.