Today in History

This is all verbatim from

Poem: “Concord Hymn,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Concord Hymn

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,

The foe long since in silence slept,
Alike the Conqueror silent sleeps,
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone,
That memory may their deed redeem,
When like our sires our sons are gone.

Spirit! who made those freemen dare
To die, or leave their children free,
Bid time and nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and Thee.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It’s the birthday of diarist Sarah Kemble Knight, born in Boston, Massachusetts (1666). Little is known of her early life, except that she took over her father’s merchant business after his death in 1689. It may have been for business reasons, or perhaps to settle a relative’s estate, that she undertook a solo journey on horseback from Boston to New Haven in 1704, when she was thirty-nine years old. She kept a journal of her travels, recording everything that happened, and everything she saw along her way. Her diary passed into private hands after her death in 1727, and was not discovered again until 1825, when it was published as The Journal of Madame Knight by Theodore Dwight Junior. It has been reprinted many times since, and is now considered one of the most authentic chronicles of eighteenth-century colonial life.

In 1775 on this day, the first battle of the American Revolutionary War occurred when several hundred British troops marched into Lexington, Massachusetts on a mission to capture Patriot leaders. The troops were taken by surprise by about seventy armed Minutemen. Suddenly a shot was fired – no one knows by whom – that became known as “the shot heard round the world,” and the Revolutionary War had begun. Eight of the Minutemen were killed, and nine were wounded.

On this day in 1886, the Concord Hymn, written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, was sung at the completion of a monument to the battle in Concord, Massachusetts.

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