Shot heard round the world

Shot heard round the world

The "Shot heard round the world" is a well known phrase that has come to represent several historical incidentals throughout world history. The line is originally from the opening stanza of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn" (1837), and referred to the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. Later, in Europe and the Commonwealth of Nations, the phrase became synonymous with the shot that killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and plunged Europe into World War I.

American Revolutionary War

The phrase originates from the opening stanza of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn" (1837), and describes the impact of the battle at Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, on April 19, 1775. The entire stanza is::"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 wrote that "Concord Hymn" for the dedication of a battle monument very close to his family's home, and the words are meant to emphasize that a critical event happened at this location that triggered something of global importance.

The phrase is an implied analogyFact|date=September 2008. Perhaps "firing the shot" represents fighting this particular battle and what was "heard" was the news about itFact|date=September 2008. Perhaps it represents the end of the entire war and what was "heard" was the news of a new nation and a retreat for the British EmpireFact|date=September 2008. It is also thought to represent the fact that the shot was so important, and so dramatically changed our future, it is thought to have been known to everyoneFact|date=September 2008. It is often thought that "firing the shot" was meant to represent the beginning of a struggle for freedom against perceived tyranny, and the "hearing" represents the worldwide spread of this struggle with the American Revolution serving as an exampleFact|date=September 2008. This third analogy would reflect Emerson's belief in American exceptionalismFact|date=September 2008. The historian David M. Wrobel wrote: "Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were transcendentalists first, perhaps Romantic Nationalists second, and American exceptionalists third. Such distinctions are worth remembering if we are to see the tremendous variety and disorderliness of American thought, as opposed to seeing those diverse strands as neatly woven parts of a coherent exceptionalist fabric." (" [ The Complexities of American Exceptionalism] ") The use of the word "heard" may also refer to the great impact that the United States of America has had on the entire worldFact|date=September 2008. This shot, or battle in general, began the official American Revolution and thus changed the world forever sinceFact|date=September 2008.

To a modern reader there seems to be disagreements between "farmers" (plural) firing "the shot" (singular)Fact|date=September 2008. This could be interpreted as an understatement by Emerson to emphasize the hyperbole at the end of the phraseFact|date=September 2008. Alternate definitions of "shot" as an "attempt", a "guess", or a "bet" may also be considered ("give it your best shot," "that bet is a long shot")Fact|date=September 2008. A more likely explanation is that Emerson is simply using "shot" in the collective sense ("volleys of shot")Fact|date=September 2008. The hyperbole, of course, is that the battle itself was not loud enough to be heard around the world. Thus some figurative use of "fired the shot" and perhaps of "heard" must be meantFact|date=September 2008.

In popular culture, the phrase is often connected with the mystery of the literal first musket shot of the war. This occurred in Lexington earlier on the morning of April 19. It is not known whether a soldier of the British Army or a colonial militiaman fired this first shot of the Battle of Lexington and Concord.One theory of this shot is that it was actually fired at Asael Porter a local farmer who had been stopped by the British earlier in the day then tried to escape and was shot at about the same time as the battle of Lexington beganFact|date=September 2008.

Assassination of Franz Ferdinand

In Europe and the Commonwealth of Nations, the phrase "The Shot heard around the World" has become associated with Gavrilo Princip's assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, an event considered as one of the main causes of World War I.

While Princip in fact fired two shots, one hitting Duchess Sophie with the second hitting Archduke Franz, it was the death of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne that propelled Europe and its allies into what had become known as the "War To End All Wars".

Communist Revolution in Russia

October Revolution in Russia was started by shot from the cruiser Aurora.Fact|date=October 2007

In sports

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

*Most commonly, in baseball, it refers to Bobby Thomson's walk-off home run that clinched the 1951 National League pennant for the New York Giants. [cite book | last=Peretz | first = Howard G. | title = It Ain't Over 'Till The Fat Lady Sings: The 100 Greatest Sports Finishes of All Time | publisher = Barnes and Nobles Books | location = New York |date=1999 | pages =pp 4–5 | isbn=0-76071-7079]

*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. [Peretz, pp 214-215]

*In American football, it usually refers to a play in the 1964 American Football League championship, where Buffalo Bills linebacker Mike Stratton landed a particularly hard hit on San Diego Chargers receiver Keith Lincoln, breaking Lincoln's ribs in the process.Fact|date=October 2007

*In professional basketball, it refers to Phoenix Suns player Garfield Heard's incredible shot before time ran out in Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, which sent the game to a third overtime.Fact|date=October 2007

*In hockey, it refers to Paul Henderson's last minute goal in game 8 of the Canada-USSR 1972 Summit Series

*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. [Peretz, pp 44-45]

*In American 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 lead to the creation of Major League Soccer. [ cite news
last = Robledo
first = Fred J
title = Kick Start: Ten years later, one goal still means a lot
pages =
publisher = The (Los Angeles) Daily News
date = 1999-11-19
url =,+ONE+GOAL+STILL+MEANS+A+LOT.(Sports)-a083629709
accessdate = 2007-12-01
*Ironically, outside the United States the phrase is most commonly applied to one of the biggest upsets of all time. This was when the United States defeated a heavily favored England, at the time considered the best team in the world, at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil by the margin of Joe Gaetjen's goal to nil. In England and the rest of Europe the result was so unexpected that many newspaper editors assumed the score was a result of a miscommunication and reported the score as 10-0 in favor of England. The match became, and remains, one of the most famous sporting events around the world, yet went virtually unreported in the United States.

In popular culture

*In 2006, the phrase was used by "Newsweek", and other news outlets in describing Dick Cheney's accidental shooting of Harry Whittington while quail hunting in Texas. [cite web
last =Thomas
first =Evan
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =The Shot Heard Round the World
work =Newsweek
publisher =
url =
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-10-28

*Schoolhouse Rock also used the event in a song for their morning program in a song entitled "Shot Heard 'Round the World." [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =The Shot Heard Round the World
work =
publisher =Schoolhouse Rock
date =
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accessdate = 2007-10-28

*Various sources have made the play-on-words "herd shot 'round the world" in reference to rocketry and cows. [ cite web | title = Dog Story | work = Time | publisher = Time Inc. | date = 1957 | url =,9171,868045-2,00.html | accessdate = 2007-11-29] [cite web | title = The National Reconnaissance Office has designed, built and operated the U.S. fleet of spy satellites since 1961 | last = David | first = Leonard | work = | publisher = Imaginova Corp | date = 2000 | url = | accessdate = 2007-11-29]


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