J.K. Rowling Describes "Catastrophe" That Hit American Wizarding World in Latest 'Fantastic Beasts' Essay

After chronicling the roots of the magic in North America and the effect of mass migration to the "New World," J.K. Rowling used her third and penultimate short essay aimed at providing a backstory to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to pinpoint a major catastrophe that befell the local wizarding community in the late 17th century.

Entitled "Rappaport's Law" and published Thursday on her Pottermore website as part of her "History of Magic in North America" series, the short piece of original fiction described how the magical and non-magical worlds were torn apart, leading to a far greater rift between the two than ever existed in Europe. 

The incident was sparked when Dorcus Twelvetrees, the daughter of a prominent member of the Magical Congress of the United States of America and a girl who was "as dim as she was pretty" became besotted with a No-Maj (the American term for a Muggle) called Bartholomew Barebone.

Unbeknown to Twelvetrees, however, Barebone was the descendant of a scourer, which Rowling introduced in her second essay as having had a profound conviction "that witches and wizards ought to be exterminated wherever they were found."

From Twelvetrees, Barebone was able to obtain the secret addresses of both the congress and Ilvermorny, the American magical school, along with other information and her own wand, later amassing armed friends with whom he intended to "persecute and, ideally, kill all the witches and wizards in the vicinity."

Although Barebone was subsequently arrested and imprisoned after accidentally attacking a group of No-Majs, such was the enormity of the breach that the congress was forced to move and was even censured by the International Confederation of Wizards.

It responded by introducing Rappaport's Law, which "enforced strict segregation between the No-Maj and wizarding communities," banning friendships and marriages between between the two groups and with harsh penalties for any such fraternizing.

The ruling, Rowling wrote, sent North America's magical community deeper underground and entrenched the major cultural difference between it and Europe.

"In the Old World, there had always been a degree of covert cooperation and communication between No-Maj governments and their magical counterparts. In America, MACUSA acted totally independently of the No-Maj government."

The fourth and final chapter of "History of Magic in North America," to be posted Friday, will take the story right up to the Roaring '20s, the setting for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.