Shot heard round the world

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"The shot heard round the world" is a phrase referring to several historical incidents, particularly the opening of the American Revolutionary War in 1775 and the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in 1914.

Skirmish at the North Bridge[edit]

The opening stanza of "Concord Hymn" is inscribed at the base of The Minute Man statue by Daniel Chester French, located at the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts.
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.
− Emerson, "Concord Hymn"

The phrase comes from the opening stanza of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn" (1837) and refers to the first shot of the American Revolution. According to Emerson's poem, this pivotal shot occurred at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, where the first British soldiers fell in the battles of Lexington and Concord.

Historically, no single shot can be cited as the first shot of the battle or the war. Shots were fired earlier at Lexington, Massachusetts where eight Americans were killed and a British soldier was slightly wounded, but accounts of that event are confused and contradictory, and it has been characterized as a massacre rather than a battle.[1] The North Bridge skirmish did see the first shots by Americans acting under orders, the first organized volley by Americans, the first British fatalities, and the first British retreat.

The towns of Lexington and Concord and their partisans have debated over the point of origin for the Revolutionary War since 1824, when the Marquis de Lafayette visited the towns. He was welcomed to Lexington hearing it described as the "birthplace of American liberty", but he was then informed in Concord that the "first forcible resistance" was made there. President Grant considered not attending the 1875 centennial celebrations in the area to evade the issue. In 1894, Lexington petitioned the state legislature to proclaim April 19 as "Lexington Day", to which Concord objected; the current name for the holiday is Patriots' Day.[1]

Emerson lived in a house known as the Old Manse at the time when he was composing the "Concord Hymn," from which his grandfather and father (then a young child) had witnessed the skirmish. The house is located approximately 300 feet (91 m) from the North Bridge.

Assassination of Franz Ferdinand[edit]

The phrase "shot heard round the world" has taken on a different meaning in Europe and in the Commonwealth of Nations, countries that were part of the British Empire and formerly known as the British Commonwealth. It has become associated with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914, an event considered to be one of the immediate causes of World War I. Serbian Gavrilo Princip fired two shots, the first hitting Franz Ferdinand's wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, and the second hitting the Archduke himself. The death of Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, propelled Austria-Hungary and the rest of Europe into World War I.

Widespread idiomatic use[edit]

"Shot heard round the world" continues to be a stock phrase in the 21st century, widely used to refer to unusual events in general,[2] and has been applied to numerous dramatic moments in sports. For example, it refers to the winning goal of Paul Henderson in the final seconds of the 8th and final match to secure Team Canada's victory in the 1972 Canada-USSR Summit-series. The goal was made famous by a Frank Lennon photograph.[3]

In American baseball, the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" (usually spelled with an apostrophe) denotes the game-winning walk-off home run by New York Giants outfielder Bobby Thomson off Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca at the Polo Grounds to win the National League pennant on October 3, 1951. The Giants won the game 5-4 as a result of the home run, defeating their traditional rivals in their pennant playoff series, though they eventually lost the World Series to the Yankees.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Parker, Brock (April 28, 2014). "The old tavern debate: Which town fired first?". Boston Globe. Boston Globe Media Partners LLC. 285 (118): B1, B13. 
  2. ^ Candy Spelling (October 2, 2013). "Shot Heard 'Round the World". HuffPost Entertainment - The Blog. Huffington Post. Retrieved October 28, 2013. 
  3. ^ Lucas, Dean (2013). "1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Goal". famouspictures.org. Retrieved May 22, 2013. 
  4. ^ Peretz, Howard G. (1999). It Ain't Over 'Till The Fat Lady Sings: The 100 Greatest Sports Finishes of All Time. New York: Barnes and Nobles Books. pp. 4–5. ISBN 0-7607-1707-9.