Nathan Hale

Antonio Doukas Mr. Wax 10/20/06

US History 31 Once in a great while, our country produces a great patriot; one who lives on as an example for others to

follow. From humble beginnings he arose to become one of the most loyal men in the American Army, from the sickly son of a farmer, to a strong and brave martyr. In his twenty-one years of life, he accomplished more than many of us would only dream to do in our lifetime. He studied with a well-read reverend, the went to Yale, started and a secret the was have

society, American

entered Army, by

Connecticut a spy out

Militia of Few

later and

became his

necessity, of us





ambitions that high! Nathan Hale was a natural born leader, one who’s aspirations and conviction got to him where he did. Thanks to Hale’s perseverance and his public speaking abilities, he was able to recruit very many soldiers. If it wasn’t for him, we may not have won the war. Nathan Hale was born in Coventry, CT on June 6, 1755 of Richard Hale and Elizabeth Strong. He was one of twelve children, and one of nine boys. His father was a Deacon, and thus a man who was accustomed to order. “He went to bed with the swallows and arose with the lark, and if his boys were not up as early as he, he wanted to know the reason


why.” (Partridge, 45) Richard Hale was a prosperous farmer whose political ideals promoted independence for America. When Nathan was born he was not expected to live long. He was a sickly child, but instead of killing him, his disease strengthened him. As he grew, he cultivated a love for sports such as “running, leaping, wrestling, firing at a mark, throwing, lifting, playing ball,” (Newton, 124)

fishing, and swimming. Although he had his fair share of fun, he was also very devoted to his studies. He was a privileged child to be able to go to school, because unlike today, studies religion. He father put his mind him to his to studies so much, that his school was a privilege back then. His primary and





encouraged and

study the

with clergy

Reverend someday.

Joseph Nathan




readily accepted, and soon began his secondary education. He quickly gained a love for the ‘classics’ such as Greek, Latin, Mathematics, Philosophy, Greek and Roman literature & history, and oratory. In his quest for higher education, Hale applied to Yale in New Haven, and was accepted in 1769. Even though he was only fourteen, he didn’t slack off in his studies;

instead, he continued his lessons in the classics. He was a


very popular with both the students and teachers. He was even able to arrange a library for his secret society made for those who loved to read. It was called the Linonia Society. Patriotism was instilled in Hale early on, because most discussions at school centered on politics and the break off of America from Britain. Hale graduated with

flying colors in 1773. Hale wasted no time in his life; immediately after Yale, he organized a formal debate discussing whether girls were neglected as far as their studies. Due to his advanced linguistics making rights. a and small Nathan persuasion, contribution was not he to won the as the debate for still easily, women’s wanted

fight he


school; so he became a teacher. In Oct. 1773, Hale was able to secure a job in East Haddam up until March of 1774, when he moved to a school in New London until July 1775. He was adored by his students and fellow teachers. He would explain the lessons to them in a way that they would understand. Hale loved his job, and showed it to his students every day, but all good

things must come to an end. While Hale was still teaching, the war had begun, so in July of 1775 he decided to join the Connecticut Militia. He was in the seventh Connecticut regiment as first


Lieutenant under Colonel Webb. Hale was given the job of recruiting soldiers. His captivating speeches won many

over. “Let us march immediately, and never lay down our arms until we have obtained our independence!” so was the conclusion of one of Hale’s motivating speeches. Through his linguistic skills, he was able to convince a large

amount of people to be recruited. Hale’s skills and perseverance got him promoted to

Captain before too long. Immediately afterward he and his regiment were sent to Cambridge, Massachusetts to provide relief for the troops in Boston. In 1755, Hale’s term in the militia ended, but his dedication for his country did not. Without skipping a beat, he enlisted in the nineteenth regiment of the Continental Army as a Captain in January of 1776. Hale was a faithful servant of his country. During a battle in New York in mid-May, Nathan was able to intercept a sloop summer chock of full of much needed army order supplies. was to During the by his


Washington’s soldiers. In

outnumbered alleviate


soldiers, he formed a special group called the Connecticut Rangers. Hale was one out of one-hundred and twenty men to go.


These Knowlton

rangers, and





Thomas the

nicknamed of








discovering battle tactics and other information that would benefit Washington’s soldiers. Washington was dissatisfied, and wanted more results, so he asked Knowlton for

volunteers to be undercover spies. Being the leader of one of the ranger companies, Hale eagerly accepted, saying, “I wish to be useful and every kind of service, necessary to the public good, becomes honorable by being necessary.” Hale understood what it would require of him, and the risks involved, but still whole-heartedly accepted. He was to go into British territory disguised, and determine the strength of the troops and determine where they would

attack. Hale, although lacking in the basic techniques and equipment used by spies then, was headstrong and brave, and went into British territory with plain clothes and a his diploma, as if looking for a job as a schoolteacher. Although Nathan Hale was not the best choice for a spy, he was able to visit every British camp on Long

Island, and sketch pictures of what the encampments looked like, and annotated the plans they were discussing. He was to be done with spying by September fifteenth, but things did not go as planned. On the twentieth, the whole city was


up in flames. Hale tried to escape, but he was captured and arrested as a suspect for arson. Hale spent the night in prison, and when they searched him, they found the sketches and notes he took hidden in his shoes. He was then charged with being a spy, and was to be hanged spies were the next morning. the No scum trial of was the given earth; because posing


themselves as friends, but then stabbing them in the back. The irony in his being caught was that his own loyalist cousin was the one who betrayed him to General William Howe. Nathan gave in with no fight, and he was still treated with utmost disrespect, and even denied basic freedoms

given to all prisoners of war. His requests for both a Bible and a priest were turned down by his supervisor,

William Cunningham. Hale was to wait until morning for his fate to be sealed. After the noose was fitted around his neck, he was asked if he had any last words. The words that escaped his lips afterwards have been immortalized and

preserved up until today: “You are shedding the blood of the innocent; if I had ten-thousand lives I would lay them down in defense of my injured.” He concludes with these eternal words, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country!” (Rostek, 186) Then, SNAP! His life was over. He was kept hanging so as to serve as a warning


for the Americans, so even after his death, he was helping his country. When Washington found out about his death a week later, he asked Montressor, who was meeting with

General Howe to discuss the exchange of prisoners, to find out what happened to Nathan. He was answered thoroughly, as Howe “was [not] willing to execute Hale” (Partridge, 82), and sympathized for their loss. We all should sympathize for his loss. A patriot such as that is rarely seen nowadays. When most people turn

twenty-one, they go to the nearest bar and drink, but Hale was doing something of actual importance. He went a long way in his life; a sickly baby, a strong boy, a teenage scholar, an adolescent teacher, and an adult soldier. We would do well to follow in his footsteps.


Works Cited

1. Schmittroth, Linda. Rostek, Mary Kay. American Revolution: Biographies. 1. 2000. (178-186). 2. Partridge, William Ordway. Nathan Hale: The Ideal Patriot. New York City: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1902. 3. Libertson, Jody. Nathan Hale: Hero of the American Revolution. 1. New York City: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2004. 4. Newton, Caroline. Once Upon A Time In Connecticut. New York City: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1916.(124-139). 5. Johnston, Henry. Nathan Hale 1776: Biography and Memorials. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1914.