In part two of her four-part series looking at the history of magic in North America, J.K. Rowling discusses the dangers that American wizards (both Native and those who just arrived from Europe) had to deal with in the 17th century. This piece includes Rowling’s long-awaited discussion on the Salem Witch Trials.
“Seventeenth Century and Beyond” looks at the various threats that were hurting wizards and witches in North America during this period including the lack of amenities (like potions), a group of troublemakers (who became increasingly trouble-making) called Scourers, and the well-known Salem Witch Trials.
“Here [in America], they had to forage among unfamiliar magical plants,” says Rowling. “There were no established wandmakers, and Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which would one day rank among the greatest magical establishments in the world, was at that time no more than a rough shack containing two teachers and two students.”
The Harry Potter author’s thoughts on the Salem Witch Trials are particularly interesting. Described as a “a tragedy for the wizarding community,” Rowling writes that “many witches and wizards to flee[d] America, and many more to decide against locating there.”
“This led to interesting variations in the magical population of North America, compared to the populations of Europe, Asia and Africa. Up until the early decades of the twentieth century, there were fewer witches and wizards in the general American population than on the other four continents. Pure-blood families, who were well-informed through wizarding newspapers about the activities of both Puritans and Scourers, rarely left for America. This meant a far higher percentage of No-Maj-born witches and wizards in the New World than elsewhere. While these witches and wizards often went on to marry and found their own all-magical families, the pure-blood ideology that has dogged much of Europe’s magical history has gained far less traction in America.”
The witch trials, which included two Scourers on its panel of Puritan judges, caused the wizarding community to create the Magical Congress of the United States of America, which existed before the Muggles in the USA created a Congress of their own. “MACUSA’s first task was to put on trial the Scourers who had betrayed their own kind,” says Rowling, “Those convicted of murder, of wizard-trafficking, torture and all other manners of cruelty were executed for their crimes.”
However, some Scourers “eluded justice.”
Rowling is releasing this four-part “History of North America” series ahead of Fantastic Beasts hitting theaters this November, which will touch on a few of the elements she speaks of in each these articles. One of the characters in the movie will be a part of a “Second Salemer” group, hence this information on the Salem Witch Trials being released. We also know that the Magical Congress of the United States of America will be playing a role in Fantastic Beasts — the group will be investigating how Newt’s suitcase let out a few of its beasts that he had been studying, according to the trailer:
Read the full piece over on Pottermore.
Yesterday Rowling released a piece in which she discusses magical abilities amongst Native Americans, and whether or not they were aware of their magical brothers and sisters over in Europe.
On Thursday Rowling will release a piece about “what drove the North American wizarding community deeper underground in the eighteenth century,” and on Friday we’ll hear about “the Roaring `20s.”