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Dictionary Meaning and Definition on 'Scalawags'

Wikipedia Meaning and Definition on 'Scalawags'

In United States history, scalawag was a nickname for southern whites who supported Reconstruction following the Civil War. Some were former Unionists.

Scalawags formed a winning coalition with black freedmen and Northern newcomers (pejoratively labeled carpetbaggers) to take control of their state and local governments.

Despite being a minority, they gained power by taking advantage of the Reconstruction laws of 1867 that disenfranchised the majority of Southerners who could not or did not wish to take the Ironclad oath certifying that they did not serve in Confederate military or hold any office under the previous regime.

This coalition controlled for varying lengths of time during 1866-1877 every ex-Confederate state except Virginia. Two of the most prominent scalawags were General James Longstreet (Robert E. Lee's top general, after Stonewall Jackson), and Joseph E. Brown, the wartime governor of Georgia. In the 1870s, many switched from the Republican Party to the conservative-Democrat coalition, who called themselves Redeemers. Conservative Democrats replaced all Southern state Republican regimes by 1877.

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