CARPET-BAGGER, a political slang term for a person who stands as a candidate for election in a locality in which he is a stranger. It is particularly used of such a candidate sent down by the central party organization. The term was first used in the western states of America of speculative bankers who were said to have started business with no other property than what they could carry in a carpet-bag, and absconded when they failed. The term became of general use in American politics in the reconstruction period after the Civil War, as a term of contempt for the northern political adventurers in the South who, by the help of the negro vote, gained control of the administration.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)