Establishment of the AMERICAN TURNERS

(Excerpts from the Fourth Revised Edition, 1989)

Physical Education, as advocated and practiced by the American Turners Societies, dates back to the middle of the 19th century. ambitious and inspired young men, imbued with the spirit of progress of freedom, transplanted the ideals of Jahn to the American soil

The first Turner societies were organized toward the close of the year 1848. Until the middle of the fifties, all of these societies owed their organization and flourishing state to the many German immigrants who came to this country when the revolutionary movement in Germany in 1848-1849 was suppressed. Among the thousands of political refugees that fled to the American soil, there were many who had been members of a Turnverein, who knew the benefits of "Turnen*", and who were eager to establish it in their new home.

* Turnen is a term coined by Jahn, The verb Turen [to perform gymnastic exercises] is of foreign origin, although Jahn considered it a genuine German word. Turner - gymnasts; Turnerbund - gymnastic union; Turnfest - gymnastic festival; Turnverein or Turngemeinde - gymnastic society. However, the principles of the American Turners extend beyond physical activities to the domain of the mind.
The oldest Turnverein which flourishes to the present day is the Cincinnati Turngeminde, founded 11/21/1848 at the instigation of Fredrick Hecker. The New York Turngeminde was also organized in 1948. The Philadelphia Turngemiende was founded May 15, 1849. Internal dissentions arose and the dissatisfied members established the Sociale Turngemiende in November of that year. A third society, Socialer Turnverein was organized at almost the same time. Shortly after the Turnfest in 1854, these three societies combined to organize the Social-demokratishe Turngemiende. A society with a similar name was founded in Baltimore in 1849. Very little is known of the Socialistischer Turnverein of Brooklyn established in 1850 and dissolved during the civil war. On June 5, 1850, the Socialistischer Turnverein of New York was founded and on September 2, 1850, the Louisville Turnverein was founded.