Turners (German: Turner, gymnasts in English) are 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, some of whom were politicians and soldiers known as Forty-Eighters. Eventually the German movement was involved in the process leading to German unification.
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, 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 of America. They provided the bodyguard at his inauguration 4 March 1861 and at his funeral in April, 1865.
As with other German-American groups, the American Turners suffered discrimination during World War I.
The current headquarters of The American Turners is in Louisville, Kentucky.