History of Magic in North America: Rappaport’s Law


The third of the four deep dives into the History of Magic in North America has arrived on Pottermore.

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The third of Rowling’s deep dives into the History of Magic in North America has arrived. You can read the entire thing here.

After two stories where Rowling has had issues with historical details–the first story struggled with incorporating Native American myths, and the second with the creation of the “Magical Congress of the United States” a full century before the concept of a “United States” even existed for said Congress to name themselves after, we have blessedly moved on. This week’s story is the first to really focus on the sort of detail that the discerning Potter fan would want to know prior to seeing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It concerns “Rappaport’s Law.”

Rappaport’s Law was adopted in 1790, after there was finally a United States for the MACUSA to name itself after. (Perhaps Rowling just dropped a detail and the MACUSA called it something else that brings to mind a Michael Jackson song prior to the Revolutionary War?) It was put into place after a major breach of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy, where a rather dim daughter of a high ranking wizarding official fell in love with the wrong man–one who was the descendant of a “Scourer.” From the details of the story, nothing really happened that most Muggles or No-Majs would notice. As far as the non wizarding community was concerned, a crackpot with odd beliefs went about distributing leaflets and then attempted to murder a random bunch of strangers (who were luckily not actually wizards or witches.)

Rappaport’s Law that followed brings in a new topic from American history which puts Rowling perilously near another topic it might be better if she found a way to avoid: segregation. Thankfully, she does not draw any parallels other than to note that this law drove a further wedge between the magic and non-magical communities. Unlike the UK, where, as we saw in 1997, the Minister of Magic would consult with the Muggle Prime Minister in times of dire need, this sort of even minor communication and cooperation between communities does not exist at all.

Some other details:

  • It’s interesting to note the level of hysteria with which this story is told. There is a level of genuine terror that accompanies this piece of wizarding history. This culture of paranoia is one that Newt is going to find himself stepping into in 1926 when he loses his case. One can suddenly see why there might be an over the top response.
  • The fact that Tina, Queenie and Newt befriend the No-Maj Jacob is as big a crime as the loss of the case. I had assumed that since Tina and Newt got together, Queenie and Jacob would wind up in an opposites attract type relationship. Turns out that’s against the law.
  • Wizarding money in the US is called Dragots
  • It is becoming clearer and clearer that Samantha Morton’s MaryLou, the leader of the “Second-Salemers,” is probably going to turn out to be the descendant of a Scourer. That they were once magical families also explains why her son Credence has magical abilities, and knows what they are (and is probably in the closet about them.) The question is, since he’s meeting with  Percival Graves, does that make Graves a secret Scourer as well? Curiouser and curiouser.

See our reaction to the first two stories here and here.