Nathan Hale - America's First Spy

Nathan Hale - America's First Spy

Nathan Hale

Nathan Hale of Connecticut was a 21 year old when he joined the Continental Army.  An educated and energetic young man, he quickly made his way up through the ranks.

When General Washington needed a spy, Hale was the only volunteer.

He was to enter New York City, which was recently captured by the British, and report back with helpful information.

Unfortunately, Hale was unprepared for the dangers of espionage.

Shortly after arriving, the British became suspicious of Hale.  He was approached by Robert Rogers, who tricked Hale into thinking he was also a Patriot spy.

Truthfully, Hale should probably have realized this was a lie because just days earlier he was the only person who wanted the job.

Nathan went to Rogers house for dinner the next night where he was arrested by British troops.  Instead of attempting to get out of trouble, he simply confessed to the crime.

Being found guilty, Nathan Hale was hung for treason.  This was just 14 days after he became a spy.

“My only regret is I have but one life…”

Nathan Hale is most famous for the popular line, “My only regret is I have but one life to give for my country.”

The only problem is: he may not have said it.

Truthfully, we are not entirely sure what was said.

There are many first and second-hand account that give estimations of Hale’s speech, but no one documented his exact words.  Chances are he spoke for about a minute before his hanging.

The famous line was most likely attributed to him after his death by a friend.  It is paraphrased from Cato’s Letters, a book that was very popular at the time.

What we do know is that Hale was very calm and collected in his final moments and took to his fate bravely.

Although he may not have been a very good spy, Nathan Hale was truly a great American.

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If you want to learn more about espionage during the American Revolution, pick up one of these great books:

Artemas Ward - The First Commander-in-Chief

Artemas Ward - The First Commander-in-Chief

Button Gwinnett

Button Gwinnett