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Seventeenth Century and

Beyond
By J.K. Rowling
As No-Maj Europeans began to emigrate to the New
World, more witches and wizards of European origin
also came to settle in America. Like their No-Maj
counterparts, they had a variety of reasons for leaving
their countries of origin. Some were driven by a sense
of adventure, but most were running away: sometimes
from persecution by No-Majs, sometimes from a fellow
witch or wizard, but also from the wizarding authorities.
The latter sought to blend in among the increasing tide
of No-Majs, or hide among the Native American
wizarding population, who were generally welcoming
and protective of their European brethren.
From the first, however, it was clear that the New World
was to be a harsher environment for witches and
wizards than the Old World. There were three main
reasons for this.

Firstly, like their No-Maj counterparts, they had come to


a country with few amenities, except those they made
themselves. Back home, they had only to visit the local
Apothecary to find the necessities for potions: here,
they had to forage among unfamiliar magical plants.
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.
Secondly, the actions of their fellow No-Majs made the
non-magical population of most wizards homelands
look lovable. Not only had conflict developed between
the immigrants and the Native American population,
which struck a blow at the unity of the magical
community, their religious beliefs made them deeply
intolerant of any trace of magic. The Puritans were
happy to accuse each other of occult activity on the
slenderest evidence, and New World witches and
wizards were right to be extremely wary of them.

The last, and probably the most dangerous problem


encountered by wizards newly arrived in North America
were the Scourers. As the wizarding community in
America was small, scattered and secretive, it had as
yet no law enforcement mechanism of its own. This left
a vacuum that was filled by an unscrupulous band of
wizarding mercenaries of many foreign nationalities,
who formed a much-feared and brutal taskforce
committed to hunting down not only known criminals,
but anyone who might be worth some gold. As time
went on, the Scourers became increasingly corrupt. Far
away from the jurisdiction of their native magical
governments, many indulged a love of authority and
cruelty unjustified by their mission. Such Scourers
enjoyed bloodshed and torture, and even went so far as
trafficking their fellow wizards. The numbers of Scourers
multiplied across America in the late seventeenth
century and there is evidence that they were not above
passing off innocent No-Majs as wizards, to collect
rewards from gullible non-magic members of the
community.

The famous Salem Witch Trials of 1692-93 were a


tragedy for the wizarding community. Wizarding
historians agree that among the so-called Puritan
judges were at least two known Scourers, who were
paying off feuds that had developed while in America. A
number of the dead were indeed witches, though
utterly innocent of the crimes for which they had been
arrested. Others were merely No-Majs who had the
misfortune to be caught up in the general hysteria and
bloodlust.
Salem was significant within the magical community for
reasons far beyond the tragic loss of life. Its immediate
effect was to cause many witches and wizards to flee
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 allmagical families, the pure-blood ideology that has
dogged much of Europes magical history has gained far
less traction in America.
Perhaps the most significant effect of Salem was the
creation of the Magical Congress of the United States of
America in 1693, pre-dating the No-Maj version by
around a century. Known to all American witches and
wizards by the abbreviation MACUSA (commonly
pronounced as: Mah cooz ah), it was the first time
that the North American wizarding community came
together to create laws for themselves, effectively
establishing a magical-world-within-a-No-Maj-world such
as existed in most other countries. MACUSAs first task
was to put on trial the Scourers who had betrayed their
own kind. Those convicted of murder, of wizardtrafficking, torture and all other manners of cruelty were
executed for their crimes.

Several of the most notorious Scourers eluded justice.


With international warrants out for their arrest, they
vanished permanently into the No-Maj community.
Some of them married No-Majs and founded families
where magical children appear to have been winnowed
out in favour of non-magical offspring, to maintain the
Scourers cover. The vengeful Scourers, cast out from
their people, passed on to their descendants an
absolute conviction that magic was real, and the belief
that witches and wizards ought to be exterminated
wherever they were found.
American magical historian Theophilus Abbot has
identified several such families, each with a deep belief
in magic and a great hatred of it. It may be partly due
to the anti-magic beliefs and activities of the
descendants of Scourer families that North American
No-Majs often seem harder to fool and hoodwink on the
subject of magic than many other populations. This has
had far-reaching repercussions on the way the American
wizarding community is governed.