The English The British opened fire first, but were forced to retreat when the colonists returned fire. This was the "shot heard 'round the world," as poet Ralph Waldo Emerson memorialized it.
The British claim they fired in self-defense against an attack by the colonists. However, this argument has not stopped various countries from banning trade with Britain or its colonies.
In any case, the battle of Lexington and Concord became a landmark event in American history. It showed that the colonists were not only willing to fight for their own freedom, but also capable of defeating the best soldiers on earth.
After the battle, there were no more attempts by the British to impose a tax on the colonies. Instead, Parliament passed the Intolerable Acts, which included measures limiting political power in the colonies to ensure their compliance with any future taxes. These acts caused much anger among the colonists who viewed them as violations of their rights as free people.
There was another incident involving gunfire at Lexington. In 1800, an angry mob attacked two British customs officers who were attempting to collect a duty on glass bottles. The men were rescued by a group of local residents who stood between them and the crowd so they could finish their job.
The militiamen rushed to Concord's North Bridge, which was guarded by a British garrison. The British opened fire first, but were forced to retreat when the colonists returned fire.
In fact, the British shot first, but only because they were trying to scare off the colonists while they were still on their horseback. The colonists had no way of knowing this until after the fact; they just knew that something bad was happening and needed to defend themselves.
There was no battle, no casualties, and no victory in either camp. But the incident served its purpose: It gave the colonists an excuse to take up arms against Britain. By shooting first, the British had made their intentions clear: They wanted to fight.
You may wonder why the British would want to fight over something like this. The answer is politics. England was then being ruled by a king who didn't have much power over his ministers. He could make laws, but not everyone agreed with what he had to say. So there were people in Parliament who wanted more power - power over the military, law enforcement, and the colonies - and they used this incident to push for change.
This episode has been called America's "Birthday", as many states celebrated their independence on July 4th.
What is the meaning of "the shot heard 'round the world"? The phrase comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson's 1837 Concord Hymn and refers to the onset of the American Revolutionary War: What is evident from the crude bridge that spanned the river is that this was "the shot heard 'round the globe." It struck true, but not before it had wounded Colonel John Parker in the arm. This incident marked the beginning of the end for the British occupation of Boston.
The war would go on for another three years, but no other battle or event earned such fame for its site as Breed's Hill because there was no need for any poetic license here. The real story has never been fully told, but it seems that some colonists shot at the British during the night from positions on nearby Bunker Hill in order to give their comrades time to reach them by way of the bridges across the Charles River.
After these shots were fired, both sides waited anxiously for news from Boston regarding what effect the shooting had had on the British. Early in the morning, a colonist named William Dawes rode into town with news that the British had abandoned their plans to attack Boston and leave instead. The war had begun.
There are many versions of how the war began with this one shot, but all agree that it was important enough to mark the beginning of a new revolution.