The History of Magic In North America: 17th Century and Beyond

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Image credit: Pottermore.com

So…yesterday’s Magic in North America story from JK Rowling got some serious backlash. If you’re unsure why there was such an outcry from Native American people, I’d check out A Tribe Called Geek and Dr. Adrienne Keene to hear about the entire thing. Plus, you should probably just follow A Tribe Called Geek anyway, because they’re an awesome voice in the geek space that you should be following if you aren’t.

After yesterday’s train wreck, I was nervous to see what was in store for us today. After all, it’s totally okay to love something and still be critical of it, so I am still incredibly excited to see what new stories are coming about North American magic. I just hoped it would be…better than yesterday. So what did we learn in today’s North American magical history lesson (apart from the fact that this “North American” history lesson is actually more focused on the USA)? Here are the quick hits:

  • Wizards had a rough time when they left Europe for the New World. Starting over in a new land, poor relations with the Native community, and groups like the Puritans who were very wary of witches and wizards made life pretty harsh.
  • Ilvermorny started out as a shack with two teachers and two students. That must have been a super lame Yule Ball, amirite?
  • Meet the Scourers. They’re essentially the reverse Death Eaters, attacking wizards rather than mugg–*sigh*–No-Majes. They started as a task force to hunt down criminals or anyone with a bounty on their heads, and soon moved into hunting members of the magical community. At least two of the judges during the Salem Witch Trials were known Scourers. My money’s on John Hathorne, for sure.
  • Some actual witches were executed at Salem, though there were innocent of the crimes they were accused of, but there were also some No-Majes who also got caught up, likely because a Scourer needed to settle a feud.
  • Because of Salem, a lot of wizards stopped travelling to the New World. You how fear of execution really hurts the tourism industry. Which is kinda weird to me though, because didn’t people get burned at the stake all. the. time. in Europe because they were accused of witchcraft? I mean, at least Salem residents held a sham trial and ultimately hung the witches, they didn’t burn them at the stake, tie them with rocks and hurl them into a river, or brick them up in a wall. Salem wasn’t great for witches, but it doesn’t necessarily sound worse than what happened in Europe. Just sayin’.
  • Because pure-bloods stopped travelling to America in droves, the magical community thrived on No-Maj born wizards. So the whole pure-blood/mudblood feud wasn’t really a thing over here.
  • The most shocking thing of all is that, in 1693 the magical community formed the Magical Congress of the United States of America (called MACUSA–pronounced Mah-cooz-ah–for short). Read that again: in 1693, the Magical Congress of the United States of America was formed.
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Wait…what?
  • …in case you didn’t pay attention in history class (or you haven’t listened to Hamilton yet, which also does a fair job of talking about talking about our nation’s fight for independence), let me tell you that 1693 is definitely WAY before there even WAS a United States of America.

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  • Sketchy American history aside, the prophetically-named MACUSA was initially formed to keep the Scourers in check. While they were able to prosecute several Scourers, some went away and lived in hiding.
  • American magical history historian, Theophilus Abbot, has been able to identify some families with Scourers in them. These Scourers passed on their hatred of magic, which is why it is–apparently–much harder to fool American on the topic of magic.

So that’s day two of our Magic in North America history lesson. JK Rowling could probably stand to take an American history lesson, but whaddaya goona do, right? Let me know what you’ve thought of the pieces so far in the comments! 

3 Replies to “The History of Magic In North America: 17th Century and Beyond”

  1. Huh. That’s super interesting. I hadn’t heard of this whole thing but wow… that’s a crazy amount of detail… I’ll be interested to see what else come from it. It’s a cool idea, too bad there were issues. But you’re totally right – you can def like (or love) something and still critique it.

  2. This is super interesting, but it seems that JK Rowling could REALLY stand to do more research? I always thought it was common knowledge that USA didn’t become USA until the late 1700s. Also most ‘witches’ in Europe weren’t burnt- they were hung. No better, but horribly more accurate. I love your commentary!

  3. It’s been an enjoyable read so far, but a little fact/history checking would definitely be good on her part.

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