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 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" (alternatively "shots heard round the world" or "shot heard around the world")[2][3] also 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.[4][5][6][7]

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]

The phrase "Shot heard round the world" continues to be a stock phrase in the 21st century, widely used to refer to extraordinary events in general.[8] The following sections list some examples of this.

In sport[edit]

The phrase has been applied to several dramatic moments in sports history.

  • In American baseball, the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" refers to the game-winning walk-off home run by New York Giants outfielder Bobby Thomson off Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca 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.[9]
  • In International Men's Ice Hockey, 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.[10] In 1980, it was used to refer to the game-winning goal scored by U.S. Olympic team captain Mike Eruzione, putting the U.S. team in the lead for good with 10:00 minutes remaining against the highly favored Soviet Union Olympic team (the U.S. went on to win an improbable gold medal against Finland two days later). In 1987, it referred to the game-winning goal scored by Canada's Mario Lemieux with 1:26 remaining in the third and final game of the Canada Cup finals versus the Soviet Union.
In U.S. soccer, it is used to describe the goal scored by Paul Caligiuri for the United States men's national soccer team against Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain in 1989. The win propelled the team to the 1990 FIFA World Cup, helping to start a resurgence of American soccer, which has seen the U.S. appear in every World Cup since that time, including its hosting of the 1994 World Cup, which in turn led to the creation of Major League Soccer.[14]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Schoolhouse Rock! used "Shot Heard Round the World" as the title for their episode describing the American Revolution.[15]
  • Alternative rock band Ween recorded a track titled "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" featured on the album Schoolhouse_Rock!_Rocks (2006).
  • "Seconds" by Human League uses the phrase as a refrain.
  • The phrase is part of the chorus in the song "One Girl Revolution" by Superchick.
  • Various sources have made the play-on-words "herd shot 'round the world" in reference to rocketry and cows.[16][17]
  • In the 2006 film Delirious the phrase is used by a Hollywood talk show host as a description of a photo taken by one of the film's main characters.
  • On the 2009 album Love Drunk by the pop-rock band Boys Like Girls one of the tracks is titled "The Shot Heard 'Round The World".
  • The 1986 album Bedtime for Democracy by the band Dead Kennedys contained a song called "Potshot heard around the world" which discussed the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing.
  • The 1986 hit single "Yankee Rose" by Van Halen singer and frontman David Lee Roth features the phrase in its first verse.

In media[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. ^ Michael D. Mosettig (June 27, 2014). "'The shots heard round the world' 100 years ago". PBS. Retrieved September 10, 2018. 
  3. ^ Tom Parry (March 7, 2014). "My great uncle fired the shot that started World War I and I'm proud of him". The Mirror. Retrieved September 10, 2018. 
  4. ^ Elizabeth Nix (January 22, 2015). "What was the "shot heard round the world"?". Retrieved September 10, 2018. 
  5. ^ Greg Allwood (June 28, 2016). "Sarajevo, June 28th – The Shot Heard Round The World". Forces Network. Retrieved September 10, 2018. 
  6. ^ Shea Lazansky (April 20, 2017). "The shot heard 'round Marion". Marion [Illinois] Republican. Retrieved September 10, 2018. 
  7. ^ Elizabeth Sullivan (June 28, 2014). "A century on from Sarajevo's 'shot heard round the world,' the impacts of WWI still being felt: Elizabeth Sullivan". Retrieved September 10, 2018. 
  8. ^ a b Candy Spelling (October 2, 2013). "Shot Heard 'Round the World". HuffPost Entertainment - The Blog. Huffington Post. Retrieved October 28, 2013. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ Lucas, Dean (2013). "1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Goal". Retrieved May 22, 2013. 
  11. ^ Podnieks 2003, p. 33.
  12. ^ Louie Dee (17 March 2008). "The slam heard 'round the world". The Official Site of the WWE Universe. World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. Retrieved 28 June 2016. 
  13. ^ Peretz, pp 214-215
  14. ^ Robledo, Fred J (1999-11-19). "Kick Start: Ten years later, one goal still means a lot". The (Los Angeles) Daily News. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  15. ^ "The Shot Heard Round the World". Schoolhouse Rock. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  16. ^ "Dog Story". Time. Time Inc. 1957-11-18. Retrieved 2007-11-29. 
  17. ^ David, Leonard (2000). "The National Reconnaissance Office has designed, built and operated the U.S. fleet of spy satellites since 1961". Imaginova Corp. Retrieved 2007-11-29. 
  18. ^ Lacey, Marc (2017-04-28). "From Édgar, 5, Coughs Heard Round the World". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-29. 
  19. ^ Thomas, Evan (2006-02-07). "The Shot Heard 'Round the World". Newsweek. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  20. ^ Cohen, Noam (December 10, 2010). "Web Attackers Find a Cause in WikiLeaks". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 December 2010. 
  21. ^ "Britain Fires a Shot Heard 'Round the World". The Wall Street Journal. 2016-06-24. Retrieved 2016-06-24.