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Turners (German: Turner, gymnasts in English) are members of German-American gymnastic clubs. A German gymnastic movement was started by Turnvater (turners' father) Friedrich Ludwig Jahn in the early 19th century when Germany was occupied by Napoleon. The Turnvereine ("gymnastic unions") were not only athletic, but also political, reflecting their origin in similar "nationalistic gymnastic" organizations in Europe. After the failed Revolution of 1848, many Turners left Germany. Several of these Forty-Eighters immigrated to the United States of America and went on to become American politicians and Civil War soldiers. Eventually the German Turner movement became involved in the process leading to German unification.


History in the USA

The Turnvereine made an important contribution to the integration of German-Americans into their new home. The organizations continue to exist in areas of heavy German immigration, such as Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, Kentucky, New York City, and Los Angeles.

Together with Carl Schurz, the American Turners were supportive of the election of Abraham Lincoln as president of the United States. They provided the bodyguard at his inauguration on March 4, 1861, and at his funeral in April, 1865.

Like other German-American groups, the American Turners experienced discrimination during World War I.

In 1948, the U.S. Post Office issued a 3-cent commemorative stamp marking the 100th anniversary of the movement in the United States.

The current headquarters of The American Turners is in Louisville, Kentucky.

See also

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