How Well Do You Know English Slang?
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.
Note: Carpetbagger is still a general term for nonresident politicians who exploit their districts.