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Native white Southern politicians who joined the Republican party after the war and advocated the acceptance of and compliance with congressional Reconstruction were labeled scalawags. To most white Southerners, scalawags were an unprincipled group of traitorous opportunists who had deserted their countrymen and ingratiated themselves with the hated Radical Republicans for their own material gain. The devastation in the South after the war, coupled with the economic and social problems, created a need for progressive political action that the disenfranchised white population could not address.
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