Turners

From Academic Kids

Turners, (gymnasts in English) are a group of German Americans who together with Carl Schurz were instrumental in getting Abraham Lincoln elected as president of the United States of America (USA).

~HOW?~

For more than 150 years, they have formed Turnvereine, or "gymnastic unions", which are not only athletic, but also political, reflecting their origin in similar "nationalistic gymnastic" organizations in Europe. The German movement was started by Turnvater Jahn and was instrumental in German unification after 1848.

The American Turners provided the bodyguard at U.S. President Lincoln's inauguration March 4, 1861 and also at Lincoln's funeral. The American Turners suffered severe persecution at the hands of 'Anglo-Americans' during World War I. During WWI, many German-Americans discontinued their use of the German language, and 'anglicised' their surnames. In Indianapolis, Indiana, some German-Americans were forbidden to enter certain streets. Due to misunderstanding of the use of the German language, even Swiss-Americans were discriminated against.

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 Wisconsin , Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, New York City, and Los Angeles. In 1948 the United States Post Office issued a 3-cent commemorative stamp marking the 100th anniversary of the movement.

The American Turners were instrumental in the founding of IUPUI (Indiana University - Purdue University - Indianapolis). The current headquarters of The American Turners is in Louisville, Kentucky.

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