The witches and wizards of the New World have a history that runs parallel to that of their no-maj countrymen. First there were the native tribes, with their own magical practices, cultures, and societies; then colonists came from other lands to make a new start in the New World; and amid wars, disputes, feuds, atrocities, and (occasionally) friendship and cooperation, the American Wizarding Confederation was born.
Instead of fifty states, magical America is divided up into seventeen territories. Each territory has its own government complete with a territorial governor and legislature, and each territory also sends representatives to the Wizards' Congress, which is located in New York City, capital of the Confederation as well as of New Amsterdam Territory. Just like the no-maj states, each territory runs semi-independently with its own territorial laws, but is also subject to broader Confederation law in areas of national concern like education, transportation, land management, and security.
For a map of the American Wizarding Confederation, please click here.
Throughout the history of the American Wizarding Confederation, several political parties have risen to prominence, though their fortunes have waxed and waned as the concerns of the day shifted. Currently, the slightly left-of-center Progressive Party holds 85 of the 200 seats in Congress, with the conservative Constitutionalist Party not far behind at 78 seats. The remainder of the seats are taken up by minor parties: the left-wing Radicalists (19 seats, most from Alta California), the hardline right-wing Security Party (12 seats), the obstructionist Opposition Party (5 seats), and a lone representative of the Enigma Party from Superior Territory.
The sitting President of the Confederation, elected for his first four-year term in 2016, is Rodrigo Rosario, who was previously a well-known lawyer, a senator, and then Governor of Alta California. Though President is theoretically a non-partisan office, Rosario was a staunchly conservative Constitutionalist during his time in Congress and has continued to support conservative legislation in executive office.
The Confederation's currency today is a fairly simple system of lion, eagle, and pidge coins - each coin named after the animal it depicts. A lion is equal to about $20 in no-maj currency, and there are 10 eagles in a lion and 20 pidges in an eagle.
While Gringotts has a few American branches dating from the nineteenth century when European immigration really took off, the major bank of the Confederation and the one most familiar to modern magical folk is the Colonial Bank of the New World, which was founded in the mid-1600s by some enterprising witches and wizards taking advantage of the fact that goblins didn't yet have a foothold in the Americas. The Colonial Bank introduced a magical checking system in the early 1950s, so these days witches and wizards can earn and spend money through their wands, without ever touching a single physical coin.
For all your magical shopping needs, many major cities have Night Markets, hidden magical business districts along the lines of London's Diagon Alley. The original and most famous Night Market is in New York City, but the Chicago Night Market is now the biggest and busiest one in the country.
In the nineteenth century, while no-maj America was connecting the east and west coasts with the railway, the magical folk of the Confederation were busy building their own train system. Called WizardRail, but more commonly shortened to WizRail in the last thirty years or so, the hidden magical railways now crisscross the territories and can get witches and wizards anywhere they want to go, provided they want to go somewhere big enough to have a WizardRail station. Most Wizardrail stations also have Portkey Offices attached for quicker (but pricier) travel.
Travel by Floo is possible, particularly in areas with large wizarding populations, but it's less popular in the Confederation than it is in Europe. Due to the sheer size of the American continent as well as the piecemeal way the Confederation grew, it hasn't been possible to create or police a nation-wide network of fireplaces. Travel by winged horse is popular in some areas of the country, as is broomstick travel. There are also pockets of the country where travel by flying carpet enjoys some popularity.
As in magical Britain, formal education for wizards and witches generally begins at age eleven, in the sixth grade. Younger children, unless enrolled at one of the schools which accepts students starting in the earlier grades, might attend their local no-maj elementary school, or, if they live in an area with a large wizarding population, their local coven school: loosely organized daycares usually held in Confederation government buildings or libraries. Magical children born to no-maj parents are strongly encouraged, though not required, to attend Young American Magicians programs starting soon after they show their first signs of magic. The government-run YAM programs, which meet every other weekend in most major cities, are intended to educate students without magical families about the wizarding world, help them learn to control their early accidental magic, and explore their options for magical education and employment.
Before the late 1800s, education was primarily a concern of individual territories and was not standardized across the Confederation, and each magical school had their own idiosyncratic methods of teaching, courses of study, testing, and graduation standards. That began changing around the turn of the 20th century, when the famed President Aurora May made educational reform and standardization a key plank of her political platform. Today, all accredited magical schools are required to teach all students to a basic level of competency in the seven core subjects: Magical Theory, Charms, Transfiguration, Wizard History, Botany & Alchemy, Math, and Language Arts.
At the beginning of every year all students in grades 6 through 11 take standardized tests known as BATs (Baseline Assessment Tests) to determine their placement in core classes, followed by CATs (Cumulative Achievement Tests) at the end of every year to be sure they're hitting academic benchmarks for their ages. In order to graduate, students in their senior year must pass TOADs (Tests of Overall Academic Distinction) in at least five of the seven core subjects.
For a list of schools within the American Wizarding Confederation, please visit the schools page.
While the history of the Confederation is generally one of assimilation and melding of many different ethnic and national groups, there are some groups which have fought for years to remain culturally distinct and are now legally recognized as Cultures, granting them certain exemptions from Confederation and territorial laws regarding things like education, wand use, and forbidden magical practices.
Native Americans: As in the no-maj United States, relationships between the native peoples and European colonists have been fraught with conflict since the beginning. Various indigenous nations had their own magical practices, sites, and traditions centuries before the European colonists arrived, and while many of them were forcibly pushed out of their homelands and onto reservations, magic-users of many nations handed down their own traditions and kept their cultures alive through centuries of theft and persecution. The indigenous magic of the Americas was censured by the Confederation as "non-standard" until a landmark law was passed by Magical Congress in 1948 classifying recognized native tribes as Cultures and acknowledging their sovereignty. Today, the magic users of individual bands are more or less self-governing and have special status within their territories.
While most Native American nations have their own lands within various territories, the tribes of the southwest are the only groups to control their own independent territory within the Confederation. Dinétah, the traditional homeland of the Navajo people, today is home not only to members of the Navajo Nation and their Apache cousins, but other groups including bands of Hopi, Mojave, Pueblo, Yuman, and more. Dinétah is the most independent of all the territories and brooks the least Confederation interference in its affairs.
Traditionalists: Several distinct groups which are often conflated due to overlap in values and lifestyle, the Traditionalist communities are actually quite different. Despite (or perhaps because of) their relative isolation from the broader magical community, many of these groups have been steadily gaining members for the past century as outsiders have been attracted to their simpler way of life and close-knit communities.
Plymouth Traditionalists are descended from some of the earliest Puritan settlers in the Massachusetts Bay area of Plymouth Territory, and remain committed to a strict interpretation of a Biblical lifestyle. Their communities are a mix of wizarding and no-maj families who have often lived and worked side by side for generations, and unlike the wider wizarding world they make little distinction between the talent of magic and other, more mundane talents. They eschew modern technology and culture, and most members, aside from those who do business with outsiders ("Strangers"), have minimal contact with the world outside their congregations.
Salem Traditionalists broke away from the Plymouth communities in the early 18th century in a schism over the mingling of magical and no-maj congregants. The Salem communities, which have spread into New England and Central Territories and further abroad, are wholly wizarding and don't interact at all with non-wizards. In general they are more open to interaction with Stranger wizards and witches than the Plymouth set, and have adopted some modern wizarding knowledge into their culture. Where Plymouth Traditionalists are known for wearing plain homespun clothing in natural colors and the flat hats and bonnets familiar to modern Americans as Pilgrim costumes, the Salem communities can be identified by a style of dress more similar to traditional British wizards' garb of black robes and pointed hats.
Ozarkers, who live in the Ozark Mountains region of what are now Texarkana, Appalachia, and Central Territories, spring from a different branch of early colonists, largely those who originally settled in Roanoke and Dixie and moved west as well as the relatively more recent German and Irish immigrants who joined them in the mid-19th century. They're known for their unique magical practices, their skill at wandcrafting, and their colorful dress and celebrations, particularly involving folk music, dancing, and charm-infused foods -- and moonshine. While their communities are isolated and conservative, they're less insular than other Traditionalists: outsiders, whom they call "foreigners", are always welcomed at the annual Jubilees held up and down Ozarker country every summer.
The Freemen are another group often lumped in under the Traditionalist umbrella due to their isolationism, though they're more modern and generally less conservative than other communities. Their well-hidden towns and farmlands dotted up and down Dixie and Central Territories were originally populated by descendants of escaped African and Afro-Caribbean slaves, freedmen, and Native Americans, and quietly participated in the Underground Railroad by helping to magically hide groups of no-maj escapees on their path to freedom in the north. The Freemen never recognized the authority of the (largely white) Magical Congress or territorial governments and have remained isolated from the larger culture out of self-preservation, though in recent decades some of the younger generations have been more open to cultural exchange.
Louisiana Creole: The Confederation has long had a contentious relationship with the Creole voodoo sorcerers of Louisiana who have their own magical traditions and practices. Voodoo has long been categorized as dark magic and as such has been banned by Congress since the eighteenth century, which pushed its practitioners underground for decades. It was only in the 1990s that the Creole community was officially recognized as a Culture and granted the right to practice their craft within Louisiana Territory (with hard limits on necromancy, which remains classified as a Dark Art). Ville d'Or, a hidden magical district of New Orleans, is the center of Creole culture and a beautiful, unique town full of old-world charm that's very popular as a tourist destination.
Majokai: While many Japanese immigrants have assimilated into Confederation culture, there are a significant number, mostly in communities in Pacific Territory, who have remained strictly separate. They call themselves Majokai (魔女界) and since the mid-19th century have resisted all attempts by the Confederation to govern them. When the no-maj United States government suspended Japanese immigration in 1924, and when they put Americans of Japanese descent in internment camps during the Second World War, the Majokai became even more fiercely isolationist out of self-preservation and have remained so ever since. There's a long-standing ancestral feud between the Majokai and the more readily assimilating community of Chinese-American witches and wizards, which has been the cause of multiple mass duels in Pacific Territory over the past century