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J.K. Rowling’s MACUSA: What we learned from the new story

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On Thursday, Pottermore shared a brand new story from J.K. Rowling, exploring the rich and bizarre history of the Magical Congress of the United States of America. Like the Ministry of Magic, its British counterpart, MACUSA has a strange and wonderful backstory, and Rowling’s brand new Pottermore installment gives an excellent overview as to how the American wizarding world operates. Think of it as civics class — with Rowling as your teacher.

Previously, Rowling took a deep dive into the beginnings of American wizarding society and explained the origins of Ilvermorny, the American school of witchcraft and wizardry. With this final installment, she teaches us about the mysterious MACUSA — which also plays a key role in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (out Nov. 18).

Here are 12 things we learned from Rowling’s new story:

1. MACUSA is pronounced Mah-cooz-ah.

2. The first president of the organization was Josiah Jackson, who recruited 12 witches and wizards to serve as the nation’s first Aurors.

3. Among those Aurors were Charity Wilkinson, who became the third president of MACUSA, Theodard Fontaine, whose descendant Agilbert now serves as Headmaster of Ilvermorny Scool of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and Gondolphus Graves. (Colin Farrell’s character in Fantastic Beasts is Percival Graves, a powerful and formidable Auror in the 1920s.)

4. Abraham Potter was also one of those 12 Aurors, and he was distantly related to Harry Potter.

5. Because of the hostile attitude toward witches and wizards in America, there was zero cooperation between the No-Maj government and MACUSA, unlike other countries like the U.K.

6. The MACUSA headquarters bounced around the country for a few years, and in 1760, it moved from a remote location in the Appalachian Mountains to Williamsburg, Virginia, where then-president Thornton Harkaway lived. The flamboyant president was known for breeding Crups — which are basically magical Jack Russells with a forked tail — and he resigned in disgrace when a bunch of his Crups attacked a group of No-Majs (who, as a result, could only bark for the next 48 hours).

Pottermore

7. The American wizarding community faced one of its biggest challenges during the Revolutionary War, when wizards found themselves torn between “Country or Kind,” unsure whether to align themselves with their magical brethren or their newborn country.

8. When American wizards asked the Ministry of Magic where they would be fighting in the Revolutionary War, the Ministry sent a message saying, “Sitting this one out.” MACUSA President Elisabeth McGilliguddy, who was apparently a total badass, simply replied: “Mind you do.”

9. MACUSA was forced to abandon its Washington headquarters after a Sasquatch rebellion in 1892. Yeah, you heard us. A Sasquatch rebellion.

10. Unlike Britain, where criminals were sent to Azkaban, the United States actually had the death penalty for the worst criminals. But the Ministry of Magic also set Dementors on people, ordering them to suck out criminals’ souls, so don’t feel that superior, British wizards.

11. All witches and wizards in the United States, regardless of whether they were a citizen or just a visitor, were supposed to carry wand permits at all times.

12. MACUSA’S current headquarters is located in New York City’s Woolworth Building.

Head to Pottermore to read Rowling’s entire explanation of MACUSA.

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