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Nathan Hale

Born: June 6, 1755
Place: Coventry, Connecticut
Died: September 22, 1776
Place: New York, New York

Nathan Hale Nathan Hale was born on June 6, 1755 in Coventry, Connecticut. His father was a prosperous Coventry farmer, and Nathan was the sixth of twelve children born into the family. His parents held very strong religious beliefs and were advocates of a rigid Puritan work ethic. The Hale children grew up very much influenced by their parents' beliefs in religion, hard work, and education. The days of Nathan Hale's youth were marked with mounting political controversy. The American Revolution was in its infancy, and more and more people were promoting radical ideas that pertained to individual liberties and sovereignty. Nathan Hale took the ideas of individual and political freedoms to heart, and gained a sense of purpose. In a sense, he was very fortunate. His family had the means to send him off to Yale College at the young age of 14. His older brother Enoch was also sent to Yale at the same time. In these years, Yale was primarily a school that prepared young men for the ministry, focusing on religion and the classics. The school was evolving, however, and Nathan absorbed not only ideas in religion and the classics, but also other areas of thought, such as business, astronomy, writing, mathematics, philosophy, and law. During his years at Yale, Nathan Hale became a confident young man, supported by his ethical beliefs, willing and able to speak to others about his ideas. He graduated from Yale at the age of 18, at the top of his class.

When he graduated from Yale in 1773, he accepted a teaching position in East Haddam, Connecticut, and shortly thereafter he was offered a position as the master of the New London, Connecticut Grammar School. All during this period, the political controversies between the Colonies and England were rising to a head. When war broke out, Nathan Hale put his ideals ahead of his immediate comfort, and volunteered his services to the cause of the Revolution. He served as a lieutenant, then a captain, and then as an officer in Thomas Knowlton's elite Knowlton Rangers. In 1776, George Washington needed to gain an advantage on the British. He solicited capable officers who could infiltrate the British forces; in short, Washington needed spies. Nathan Hale volunteered. The details of what happened next are not entirely clear, and never will be. But we do know that Hale was captured by the British in New York on September 21, 1776. We also know that the British General William Howe attempted to bribe Hale for information and a change in allegiance. Nathan Hale stood by his principles. He refused to betray his country, and without a hearing or a trial, he was sentenced to be hanged.

Nathan Hale died in New York on September 22, 1776 because he held to his convictions. Before he was hanged, he bravely spoke words that will never, ever, die: "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Nathan Hale died very young, at the age of 21, but his dedication to his beliefs are one of the symbols of of American bravery and principles.

Many American History texts mention Nathan Hale and his contributions to the ideals of the new nation. For a more complete biography of this American patriot, you may want to purchase Nathan Hale (Revolutionary War Leaders) from Amazon.com by clicking here.


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