Nathan Hale

Hale, Nathan (1755–1776), an American patriot. Hale became a national hero after he was hanged by the British for spying during the American Revolution. His last words were: “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

Hale was born in Coventry, Connecticut, the son of a well-to-do farmer. He graduated from Yale College in 1773. Hale taught school at East Haddam and New London, Connecticut, until July, 1775, when he became a lieutenant in the Connecticut militia. He joined the Continental Army at the siege of Boston and was promoted to captain on January 1, 1776. In the spring the army moved south to defend New York City. Hale captured an enemy supply sloop in a daring raid.

General Washington, camped at Manhattan, needed information of the enemy's forces on Long Island. Hale volunteered for the dangerous mission. He left camp on September 12, disguised as a Dutch schoolmaster. He had completed his task and was nearly back when caught on the night of September 21. When incriminating papers and sketches were found on his person, he confessed. Hale was hanged the next day.