While Harry Potter may be the most famous Potter in recent memory, it turns out that heroics run in the Boy Who Lived’s blood. One of Harry’s distant relatives, Abraham Potter, was one of twelve volunteers that formed the first Auror Force — they’re like Wizard Special Agents — in Revolutionary North America.
A new installment from J.K. Rowling on Pottermore provides us with some more history behind MACUSA, the Magical Congress of the United States of America. Though it has some of the same functions of the British Ministry of Magic, there are fundamental differences in MACUSA’s history and practices that set it apart.
Established in 1693 following the Salem Witch Trials, a dark and terrifying period for the wizarding community in America, the MACUSA was modeled after the predecessor to the Ministry of Magic, the Wizard’s Council of Great Britain. From secret aid from wizards in the Revolutionary War to the frequent near-exposure and subsequent relocation of MACUSA headquarters in its early days, the history of MACUSA is deeply intertwined with American No-Maj history. In fact, the MACUSA predates America as we know it today. But if the MACUSA went by another name prior to the end of the Revolutionary War, we don’t yet have any record of it.
This group of twelve also included Gondulphus Graves, an ancestor of the ‘20s-era Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Percival Graves, who we’ll see in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Descendants of these Aurors are still held in high regard in America, just as descendants of the no-maj Founding Fathers are in our world.
The 1920s MACUSA that appears in Fantastic Beasts was perhaps not the organization’s best face. During Fantastic Beasts, the MACUSA was still upholding Rappaport’s Law, which forbade marriage between wizards and No-Majs. It was a time of strict and ruthless adherence to the letter of the law. The death penalty was the MACUSA equivalent of Azkaban; wand permits were required by all wizards in the country, be they citizens or visitors; and there was growing tension in the wizarding community between the need for and inconveniences of living in secrecy.
The Pottermore clip below raises some important questions, namely, why is there a giant statue of Newt Scamander in front of the MACUSA’s headquarters in the Woolworth Building?
We’ll find out more about the MACUSA in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on November 18.
Photos via Pottermore