Since Fantastic Beast's announcement video on Monday, J.K. Rowling has posted four writings about the history of magic in North America on Pottermore. It's been years since the Harry Potter series ended, and you've grown older. Maybe you're in college. Maybe you have job. Maybe you've forgotten how to read. The point is, you probably don't read much fantasy fiction any more so here's a summary of the important points you need to know before Fantastic Beasts comes out (is unleashed) in November!
It was announced a while ago that J.K Rowling had invented new slang for the American wizarding community, including a new word for Muggle: No-Maj. As in, No Magic, get it? Yeah, it's pretty straightforward. So, we are no longer Muggles. We are No-Majs...The name doesn't make not receiving a Hogwarts letter sting any less.
J.K. Rowling didn't invent this term. It has a long history in Native American mythology (and other fantasy stories) of being used to describe people who can transform into animals. J.K. Rowling has borrowed the term to describe Native American Animagi.
SPOILER: magic (along with every other aspect of civilization and culture) existed in North America before the European settlers "discovered" the continent.
J.K. Rowling shares a significant detail that used to distinguish European wizards from Native American ones: the absence of wands. Rowling writes that Native America wizards didn't use wands, and they specialized in animal and plant magic. Also, they probably suffered significantly fewer dick jokes.
I don't know where you grew up so I don't know what poor excuse for a U.S. history curriculum you had in school, BUT just to catch you up: North American was largely a shitshow for the first couple centuries. And it wasn't different for the wizarding community. Without any magic governing power, the wizarding community struggled to police magic. What resulted were Scourers, which were basically magic bounty hunters. Many were corrupt and captured and killed wizards or witches, regardless of their innocence.
You know Bellatrix Lestrange would have been #1 Scourer if she'd been born on this side of the Atlantic.
When the Magical Congress of the United States was created in 1693 (more on that below), many Scourers were prosecuted for their crimes.
The remaining Scourers went into hiding by marrying No-Majs and having No-Maj children. To better disguise themselves, they taught their children to despise magic. Thus, the descendants of Scourers became fiercely anti-magic bigots. Because you can't talk about U.S. history without justifying our illustrious history of bigotry.
The acronym MACUSA, pronounced "Ma-cooz-ah," stands for the Magical Congress of the United States of America.
It was established in 1693 shortly after the Salem Witch Trials. Unlike the Ministry of Magic, which maintains close ties with British parliament, MACUSA does not work closely with the No-Maj government. In fact, the wizarding population and the No-Maj population have been segregated since the end of the 18th Century because of the Rappaport Law, which I will explain below!
Due to the fallout from a MACUSA official's daughter's relationship with a bigoted Scourer descendant, the American wizarding community decided it would be safer for everyone if they distanced themselves from No-Majs. Since then, American wizards have lived in a secret society parallel to American society.
Her name was Emily Rappaport. Yes, the Rappaport law's namesake! And, based on this moment from the Fantastic Beasts trailer, we can assume that MACUSA has had other female leaders.
Based on Rowling's writings, I think it's safe to infer that the witch above is President Sepharina Picquery, who ran MACUSA throughout the 1920s.
Maybe if MACUSA and the U.S. government were in contact, we would have had at least one female president during our country's 300 year history...
Ilvermorny is the American equivalent of Hogwarts. It's been around since the early 18th Century and is widely considered one of the best wizarding schools in the world.
American wizarding currency!
I wonder what the exchange rate is.
Because Dorcus Twelvetrees's mistakes brought about the Rappaport Law, wizards took to calling stupid people "Dorcus." So, if somebody looks at you funny when you call them a "Scourer," go ahead and call them a "Dorcus."