Shot heard round the world

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"The shot heard round the world" is a phrase that refers to the opening shot of the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, which began the American Revolutionary War and led to the creation of the United States of America, and was an early event in the first wave of the Atlantic Revolutions, an 18th and 19th century revolutionary wave in the Atlantic World which includes the unrelated French Revolution.

The phrase has subsequently also been applied to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, a catalyst event for World War I, as well as hyperbolically applied to feats in sports, etc.

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 at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, where the first British soldiers fell in the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775.

Historically, no single shot can be cited as the first shot of the battle or the war. Shots were fired earlier that day at Lexington, Massachusetts, where eight Americans were killed and a British soldier was slightly wounded, but accounts of that event are confusing and contradictory,[1] and the encounter has been described as a skirmish[2] or a massacre[citation needed] rather than a battle. 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 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 Ulysses S. 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]

Regardless, "Concord Hymn" itself, which established the phrase, was written about the action at the North Bridge. 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]

Internationally, the phrase "shot heard round the world" (alternatively "shots heard round the world" or "shot heard around the world")[3][4] has become primarily 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.[5][6][7][8] 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.[9] The phrase has been applied to several dramatic moments in sports history.

In 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 the pennant playoff series, although they eventually lost the World Series to the Yankees.[10]

In association football, the shot heard round the world refers to Paul Caligiuri's winning goal for the United States men's national soccer team in the final qualifying round for the 1990 FIFA World Cup on 19 November 1989.[11][12] The US had not qualified for the World Cup since 1950. The team was in third position of the CONCACAF playoffs before their final game against Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain. The US had to win to go to the finals, their opponents only needed a draw. Defensive midfielder Caliguri received the ball 40 yards out from goal, and instead of passing it to a striker, beat one defender and launched a 30-yard shot that looped into the goal.[11]

In golf, the shot heard round the world refers to a double eagle (or albatross) made by Gene Sarazen on the 15th hole in the final round of the 1935 Masters. Sarazen would go on to win the tournament in a 36-hole playoff.[13]


  1. ^ a b Brock Parker (April 28, 2014). "The old tavern debate: Which town fired first?". The Boston Globe. pp. B1, B13. Archived from the original on February 9, 2019. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  2. ^ "Lexington and Concord". Khan Academy. Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  3. ^ Michael D. Mosettig (June 27, 2014). "'The shots heard round the world' 100 years ago". PBS NewsHour. Archived from the original on September 11, 2018. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  4. ^ Tom Parry (March 7, 2014). "My great uncle fired the shot that started World War I and I'm proud of him". Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on September 11, 2018. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  5. ^ Elizabeth Nix (January 22, 2015). "What was the "shot heard round the world"?". Archived from the original on September 11, 2018. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  6. ^ Greg Allwood (June 28, 2016). "Sarajevo, June 28th – The Shot Heard Round The World". Forces Network. Archived from the original on September 11, 2018. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  7. ^ Shea Lazansky (April 20, 2017). "The shot heard 'round Marion". The Daily Republican. Marion, Illinois. Archived from the original on September 11, 2018. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  8. ^ Elizabeth Sullivan (June 28, 2014). "A century on from Sarajevo's 'shot heard round the world,' the impacts of WWI still being felt". Archived from the original on September 11, 2018. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  9. ^ Candy Spelling (October 2, 2013). "Shot Heard 'Round the World". HuffPost Entertainment – The Blog. Archived from the original on October 21, 2013. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  10. ^ Howard G. Peretz (1999). It Ain't Over 'Till The Fat Lady Sings: The 100 Greatest Sports Finishes of All Time. New York: Barnes & Noble. pp. 4–5. ISBN 978-0-7607-1707-3. OCLC 43461820. OL 8012779M.
  11. ^ a b " 'The shot' ends 40 years of hurt" Archived 2019-04-28 at the Wayback Machine,, September 10, 2015
  12. ^ Fred J. Robledo (November 19, 1999). "Kick start; ten years later, one goal still means a lot". Los Angeles Daily News. Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved March 1, 2019 – via The Free Library.
  13. ^ Martin Davis (March 31, 2012). "Sarazen's double eagle put Masters on the map". Golf Channel. Archived from the original on June 4, 2020. Retrieved April 10, 2020.