Shaping the Circle

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Turner Stamps
Photo of Turner Stamps

THE TURNVEREIN

The first society to be established by the Forty-eighters, and the one which has remained throughout the years as the most prominent of their institutions, was the Turnverein. This group owes its origin to the methods of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn who throughout (1778-1852), introduced physical exercise—called Turnen—as a part of a complete program for physical and mental health in Germany. Gradually the followers of Turnvater Jahn multiplied, and [Turner] societies were established which . . . also began to engage in discussion of political and social questions. . . . These societies were patriotic and liberal-minded, both politically and religiously, but in time there was a split into two groups over the socio-economic and political issues underlying the revolutions of 1830 and 1848. The majority, including the aged Jahn, optimistically believed in the coming of a gradual expansion of political and civil rights in Germany. On the other hand, the radical democrats, especially of Southwest Germany, dissented from this moderate course. They wanted freedom and social justice now. Many of these so-called radicals came to the United States, and those who chose Indianapolis founded the Indianapolis Turngemeinde in 1851 . . . The Turners (using the modern terminology for this group) of Indianapolis were among the eleven Turnvereins which belonged to the national organization and among the twenty-two societies then in existence in the United States. . . .

[The 1860s and 70s were a time of political dispute among the Indianapolis Turners. A radical offshoot of the organization] formed a second Turnverein called the Socialer Turnverein. The founders of this new group formed the organization on the basis of its being free from political quarrels. The new group also joined the national Turnerbund, but since the national organization had a rule that there should be only one society in each city, it ordered the two groups to merge at its convention during 1872. The two societies accepted the orders of the national Turnerbund, and because the younger society was incorporated and the older was not, the older society disbanded and joined the new society. The name of Indianapolis Socialer Turnverein was adopted.

 


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Updated: 29 April 2004, RKB
Comments: speccoll@iupui.edu
URL: http://www.ulib.iupui.edu/special/digproj/circle/exhibit4_1.html

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