With just over a month until the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Harry Potter fans are frantically preparing for the new film by diving back into the wizarding world. Thankfully, Harry Potter author and Fantastic Beasts screenwriter J.K. Rowling has helped set the stage for the movie by consistently sharing new writings on the website Pottermore.
In her continuation of the Magic in North America series on Pottermore, Rowling shared the history and significant events of The Magical Congress of the United States of America.
In the Pottermore video, she makes it clear that this topic has long been on her mind.
"Newt's been across pretty much every continent, but magic developed very differently in America. Newt accidentally walks right into the middle of MACUSA and gets caught up into a society he doesn't understand. After the Potter books this was always where I was always interested in going. If I ever did anything, this is what I wanted to do."
As all fans know, Rowling doesn't write anything without deep consideration and nothing shared should be taken lightly. So, after a deep dive into her new Pottermore entry, here are the 13 most interesting things we learned:
1. Introducing The Magical Congress of the United States of America
The Magical Congress of the United States of America, better known by American magical folk as MACUSA (pronounced "Mah – cooz – ah") was founded in 1693.
Witches and wizards nationwide were elected into positions of power to help "create laws that both policed and protected American wizardkind."
2. MACUSA Was Started After The Salem Witch Trials
The need for MACUSA was largely expressed following the International Statute of Secrecy (1689) and, even more so, the Salem Witch Trials (1692 to 1693).
Anti-magic sentiment and hostility from Puritans in the US was deep cause for concern for wizardkind. As Albus Dumbledore wrote in The Wizard and the Hopping Pot:
"As the witch-hunts grew ever fiercer, wizarding families began to live double lives, using charms of concealment to protect themselves and their families. By the seventeenth century, any witch or wizard who chose to fraternise with Muggles became suspect, even an outcast in his or her own community."
MACUSA was put in place to help regulate the lives, safety and secrecy of the magical community. Inside the MACUSA, there's a massive bronze memorial site dedicated to the witches of Salem.
3. MACUSA Headquarters Have Existed In A Number Of US Cities
Initially there wasn't a dedicated meeting place for MACUSA officials. Instead, the council moved from place to place to avoid detection. The first official site of MACUSA was in the Appalachian Mountains, from there it moved to Williamsburg Virginia, Baltimore, Washington, and finally, New York.
4.You Can Visit The MACUSA In Real Life!
The MACUSA is currently located inside the Woolworth Building in New York and can be visited by wizards and No-Majs alike. Sadly, any magical ongoings are hidden from No-Majs with protective charms and spells.
The historic building, located at 233 Broadway in Manhattan, was erected in 1912 and opened the next year. The home of the MACUSA was considered the tallest building in the world from 1913 to 1930.
5. Their Main Priority Was Eliminating Corrupt Wizards
In addition to protecting and enforcing the laws of wizardkind, MACUSA's main goal was to eliminate the threat of Scourers, "corrupt wizards who had hunted their fellow magical beings for personal gain." This was a particularly difficult and daunting task as magical criminals often fled from Europe and other regions to the US because of their early lack of law enforcement.
Under the first elected MACUSA president, a hawkish and warlike wizard named Josiah Jackson, 12 wizards were recruited and trained for the jobs. They were known as America's first aurors.
6. The Original 12 Aurors
These tasks were so difficult and dangerous, that the original 12 aurors went into their jobs knowing that they would likely die. Only two of the 12, Charity Wilkinson, MACUSA’s third President, and Theodard Fontaine, whose descendent is the current headmaster of Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, lived to a ripe, old age.
In the US witches and wizards related to the original 12, listed below, are still held in high regard within the magical community.
- Wilhelm Fischer
- Theodard Fontaine
- Gondulphus Graves
- Robert Grimsditch
- Mary Jauncey
- Carlos Lopez
- Mungo MacDuff
- Cormac O’Brien
- Abraham Potter
- Berthilde Roche
- Helmut Weiss
- Charity Wilkinson
Are any readers out there distant relatives of any of the original 12 aurors? If so, let me know in the comments section!
7. The Original 12 Have Some Pretty Important Family Members
A relative of Gondulphus Percival Graves (Colin Farrell), will play a prominent role in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. In Rowling's Pottermore writing she states "[Graves's] family remains influential in American wizarding politics."
Another familiar name is Abraham Potter, who was later discovered by genealogists to be distant relative of Harry Potter. I guess being an auror really runs in the family!
Can't get enough from the Harry Potter Universe? Be sure to out these other articles before seeing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:
- 18 Things We Learned About The Ilvermorny School Of Witchcraft And Wizardry
- Expecto Patronum! J.K. Rowling And Pottermore Release An Official Patronus Quiz
- 30 Of The Most Magical Things We Learned From J.K. Rowling's 3 New Harry Potter Books
8. The Wizarding Community Largely Stayed Out Of The Revolutionary War
Unlike the Ministry of Magic, MACUSA had no lines of communication with the non-magical government. So when the Revolutionary War erupted so did the 'Country of Kind' debate of 1777.
Sitting President Elizabeth McGilliguddy had to decide whether MACUSA's priority was to help free their native country from the shackles of the Muggle British monarchy, or to maintain the peace between American and British wizarding communities. In the end, both parties decided to "[sit] this one out." However, some wizards still took it upon themselves to protect No-Majs with magic.
9. The Founding Of Rappaport’s Law
Rappaport’s Law of 1790 is considered one of the most significant laws to come from MACUSA. This law imposed mandatory and complete segregation between magical and No-Maj communities. According to the writing "intermarriage and even friendship between wizards and No-Majs became illegal in the United States."
Today this law seems completely counterproductive, especially considering what came from the marriage of the James Steward and Isolt Sayre. Had this No-Maj not married Isolt, they likely would not have founded and become the first headmaster and mistress of the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
10. Does Rappaport’s Law Play A Role In Fantastic Beasts?
There's no way to say with absolute certainty, but given the length at which Rowling has described it, and what we've seen of the movie so far, I have a feeling it does. Rappaport’s Law was in effect during the 1920s, and Newt Scamander visits New York City in 1926.
"Rappaport’s Law was still in operation in the 1920s and several offices in MACUSA had no counterpart in the Ministry of Magic; for example, a sub-division dealing with No-Maj Fraternisation and an office issuing and verifying wand permits, which everyone, citizen and visitor, was supposed to carry within the States."
From the trailers it's clear MACUSA President Seraphina Picquery (Carmen Ejogo) takes some kind of issue with Scamander's way of doing things. I have a feeling his friendship with No-Maj Jacob Kowalski (Dan Folgler) doesn't follow protocol.
11. There Is One Major (And Deadly) Difference Between Wizarding Governments In The US And UK
In Britain, wizards that commit the most severe crimes are sent to Azkaban. Meanwhile, in the United States, the penalty is execution. It seems a bit extreme, but I guess I would prefer to die instantly than have my soul slowly drained by Dementors.
12. MACUSA Handled A Sasquatch Rebellion
In 1892, Irene Kneedander, Head of the Body for Protection of Magical Species (Humanoid), took it upon herself to attack Sasquatches when they "stepped out of line." This caused the Sasquatch population to start a rebellious uprising which resulted in Obliviations on a massive scale and, ultimately, MACUSA moving from Washington to New York.
13. Fantastic Beasts Is Directly Linked To The Past
Seraphina Picquery and Percival Graves, both mentioned earlier, will play important roles in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.
"In the 1920s the President of MACUSA was Seraphina Picquery from Savannah. The Department of Magical Law Enforcement was headed by Percival Graves, a well-respected descendant of one of the original twelve American Aurors."
I have the feeling that both Picquery and Graves will be part of an older regime, but meeting Newt will force them to either progress with the times, or get left behind. I guess I'll just have to wait and find out for sure.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be released in theaters on November 18.
Which Ilvermorny House were you sorted into?