By Debra Marquis-Cascio - Museum Associate
Scalawags were white southern Republicans who backed the policies of Reconstruction rather than opposed them. The term scalawag evolved over the mid-1800s first to describe a low valued animal, then a worthless person, and eventually to describe someone viewed as a traitor of the South. Some scalawags were established planters who thought that white men should recognize Black civil and political rights while still remaining in control of political and economic life at large. The majority of scalawags were non-slaveholding small farmers, merchants, and other professionals who had remained loyal to the Union during the Civil War.
At the Greenbrier Historical Society’s North House Museum, we are fortunate to have on display two carpetbags that were used during Reconstruction. Many of today’s youth are not taught about the Carpetbaggers and Scalawags of the Civil War. Historical items such as our carpetbags are able to keep this history alive to young and old visitors alike.
Being a docent here at the museum, I am able to pass these stories along to those who do not know and it is a wonderful feeling to leave at the end of my day knowing that I passed on a part of history that may have been otherwise lost.
Walk through this museum and “listen” to the stories that come alive here. There is something to learn in every room, if you only keep your ears open!