Shot heard round the world

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The Shot Heard Round the World is a phrase referring to several historical incidents, including 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 is originally from the opening stanza of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn" (1837), and referred to the first shot of the American Revolutionary War. According to Emerson's poem, this pivotal shot occurred at the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, where the first British soldiers killed in the battles of Lexington and Concord fell.

Historically, no single shot can be definitely cited as the first shot of the battle or the war. Shots were fired earlier at Lexington, 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 question of the point of origin of the Revolutionary War has been debated between the towns of Lexington and Concord and their partisans since at least 1824, when the Marquis de Lafayette was welcomed to the "[B]irthplace of American liberty" at Lexington, then informed in Concord that it was there that the "first forcible resistance" was made. In 1875 President Grant almost avoided attending centennial celebrations in the area to evade the issue, and in 1894 Lexington petitioned the state legislature to proclaim April 19 as "Lexington Day", to which Concord objected, leading to the current name of Patriots' Day for the holiday.[1]

Emerson lived, at the time of the poem's creation, in a house only about 90 metres (300 ft) from the North Bridge, from which his grandfather and father (then a young child) had witnessed the skirmish.

Assassination of Franz Ferdinand[edit]

In Europe and the Commonwealth of Nations (formerly known as the British Commonwealth and which is mostly made up of countries that were formerly part of the British Empire), the phrase "shot heard round the world" has become associated with Serbian Gavrilo Princip's assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo, an event considered to be one of the immediate causes of World War I.

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 what was then known as the "Great War" and would eventually become known as World War I.

Thomson's home run[edit]

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 at 3:58 p.m. EST on October 3, 1951. As a result of the "shot", the Giants won the game 5-4, defeating their traditional rivals in their pennant playoff series, 2 games to 1.[2]

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.[3] The following sections list some examples of this.

In sport[edit]

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

  • 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.[4] 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 National Hockey League (NHL), refers to the winning goal of Bobby Orr in the May 10, 1970 playoff game, when he scored one of the most famous goals in hockey history and one that gave Boston its first Stanley Cup since 1941.[5]
  • In golf, it is used most often to describe Gene Sarazen's albatross on the fifteenth hole at the 1935 Masters Tournament, which helped propel him into a 36-hole playoff with Craig Wood. Sarazen would win the playoff by five strokes.[6]
  • In ice skating, "The Whack Heard Areound the World" was used to describe the incident of sabotage involving Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding
  • In college basketball, it refers to the last second shot by Ernie Calverley of the University of Rhode Island against Bowling Green State University which tied the 1946 National Invitation Tournament quarterfinal game and sent it into overtime. Rhode Island went on to win the game 82-79.[7]
  • In U.S. soccer, it is used to describe the goal scored by Paul Caligiuri for the United States 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.[8]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Schoolhouse Rock! used "Shot Heard Round the World" as the title for their episode describing the American Revolution.[9]
  • "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.[10][11]
  • 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. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ a b Candy Spelling (October 2, 2013). "Shot Heard 'Round the World". HuffPost Entertainment - The Blog. Huffington Post. Retrieved October 28, 2013. 
  4. ^ Lucas, Dean (2013). "1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Goal". Retrieved May 22, 2013. 
  5. ^ Podnieks 2003, p. 33.
  6. ^ Peretz, pp 214-215
  7. ^ Peretz, pp 44-45
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ "The Shot Heard Round the World". Schoolhouse Rock. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  10. ^ "Dog Story". Time (Time Inc.). 1957-11-18. Retrieved 2007-11-29. 
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ Lacey, Marc (2009-04-28). "From Édgar, 5, Coughs Heard Round the World". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-29. 
  13. ^ Thomas, Evan (2006-02-07). "The Shot Heard 'Round the World". Newsweek. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  14. ^ Cohen, Noam (December 10, 2010). "Web Attackers Find a Cause in WikiLeaks". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 December 2010.