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History's Happenings for April 19

The Shot Heard 'Round the World!
1775

The

As the British marched onto the green in the village of Lexington, Massachusetts this day in 1775, they were met by the town's hastily assembled and privately armed militia, which had been warned of the enemy advance the night before by Paul Revere's famous ride.

The British had marched from Boston toward Concord to seize the town's small arsenal which, they felt, was being assembled to support a revolution, and Lexington lay in their path. The militia ... in essence every able-bodied man who had any sort of weapon ... were determined to keep their arms. The colonists, especially in Massachusetts, had seen enough British oppression of late to be in no mood to be pushed around this day.

It's unclear what happened -- the battle was not organized or preplanned -- but someone fired a shot, a shot "heard 'round the world" for the events that would follow and the nation that would emerge from the din of battle.

Both sides opened up and, when the smoke had cleared, eight Americans lay dead. The British, with their discipline and better arms, understandably came out the better -- one slightly wounded -- and the remaining militia dispersed. The Redcoats continued on to Concord and destroyed what arms had not already been removed by the patriots. Then they turned and began the march back to Boston.

The Americans -- mostly farmers -- along the route out of Concord had also been warned by Revere and William Dawes, and were awaiting the British column. As it approached Concord Bridge, American squirrel rifles and muskets opened fire, inflicting heavy casualties on the exposed Redcoats, and ringing up a small victory this time for the colonists.

The American Revolution had begun.

The British managed their return to Boston only when Major General Sir Thomas Gage arranged reinforcements, and suffered 293 casualties out of approximately 1,800 engaged. The Americans took 95 casualties, including those at Lexington. The engagements were not a great display of frontier marksmanship, inasmuch as a reported 75,000 American shots were fired. However, the stiff resistance was a testament to the will of the colonists to forge freedom from oppression.

American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson writes, maybe a tad inaccurately but with feeling, of the battle of Concord Bridge on its anniversary in 1836:

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.

Dutch Recognize United States
1782

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U.S. Abandons Gold Standard
1933

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Battle of Warsaw Ghetto Commences
1943

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General MacArthur "Just Fades Away"
1951

General Douglas MacArthur

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Waco Standoff Ends in Disaster
1993

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Bomb Destroys Fed Building In Oklahoma City
1995

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