Nathan Hale


Nathan Hale was born in Coventry, Connecticut, and at the age of fourteen he was sent with his brother to attend school at Yale College. He graduated with top honors in 1773, after which he became a teacher, first in East Haddam and later in New London. At the start of the Revolutionary War, Nathan joined a militia unit and was soon chosen as first lieutenant. He did not participate with his men in the Siege of Boston, but he later led them to the Continental Army’s 7th Connecticut Regiment. The two parties joined together, and Hale was promoted to captain.

In 1776, Hale was given command of a small troop defending New York City, and the men, under his command, managed to rescue a ship full of supplies. Unfortunately, the British responded by capturing the city in the Battle of Long Island, a devastating blow to the Americans. Hale offered to sneak into British lines and report on their activity—an act that, if found out, would result in immediate execution. Nathan was ferried into the city, but he was able to remain in hiding for only a few weeks before he was captured by Major Robert Rogers, who had recognized the man as a Patriot spy and lured him into identifying himself (although other accounts insist that Nathan’s Loyalist cousin betrayed him). Hale was brought to British General William Howe, who questioned him extensively before locking him up for the night. The next morning, he was marching to the Park of Artillery, where he was hanged. Just before his death, Hale gave an eloquent speech, during which he reportedly spoke the famous line, “I only regret that I have but once life to give for my country.” In 1985, Nathan Hale was officially declared the state hero of Connecticut.

Key events during the life of Nathan Hale:

Enrolled at Yale College.
Graduated with top honors.
  Took a position as a teacher in East Haddam and later New London.
Chosen as first lieutenant of a militia unit.
  Led his men to join up with the Continental Army's 7th Connecticut Regiment.
Given command of a troop defending New York City.
  British gained control of New York City during Battle of Long Island.
  Offered to go into New York and spy on the British.
  Captured and hanged for espionage.
Designated the state hero of Connecticut.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Nathan Hale  in  America First—100 Stories from Our History  by  Lawton B. Evans
A Lady's Way of Helping  in  Story of the Thirteen Colonies  by  H. A. Guerber

Image Links

Nathan Hale
 in Story of the Thirteen Colonies

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