Today he reflects on the first shots at the Battle of Lexington (19 April 1775). Who actually fired the “Shot Heard Round the World,” a phrase made famous in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Concord Hymn (1837)?
Growing up I always thought the British fired first. I probably learned it from this:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPMAf7N_pYU]
Bell notes that the debate over who fired first was contested from the very beginning. Both sides claimed that someone from the other side pulled the trigger first. Here is Bell’s conclusion:
Until the early twentieth century, almost all American historians echoed the provincial sources and described the British firing first. With more British sources appearing, more skepticism, and less defensiveness, more recent American authors acknowledged that the situation was probably more confused than that, and even that it was possible that the first short came from someone on the provincial side.
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