Nathan Hale Is Hanged

On September 22, 1776, American patriot Nathan Hale was hanged for spying on British troops.

As he was led to the gallows, Hale's famous last words—inspired by a line from Joseph Addison's popular play, Cato, reportedly were—"I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Hale allegedly spoke these words to British Captain John Montresor, chief engineer of His Majesty's Forces in North America and aide-de-camp to British General William Howe, while the preparations for his hanging were underway.

Nathan Hale was born in Coventry, Connecticut, on June 6, 1755. He graduated with honors from Yale College in 1773 and then taught, first in East Haddam, and next in New London, Connecticut.

After hearing news of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, Hale left his job teaching and joined the army. He was commissioned a first lieutenant on July 1, 1775, and was promoted to captain on January 1, 1776.

General George Washington believed that General Howe, who had evacuated Boston in March 1776, would continue the battle in New York. In fact, the British had captured Staten Island and had begun a military buildup on Long Island.

Nathan Hale (June 6, 1755 – September 22, 1776) was a soldier for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Widely considered America's first spy, he volunteered for an intelligence-gathering mission, but was captured by the British. He is best remembered for his speech before being hanged following the Battle of Long Island, in which he said, "I only regret that I have but one life to give my country." Hale has long been considered an American hero and, in 1985, he was officially designated the state hero of Connecticut. A statue of Nathan Hale is located at the CIA's headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Captain Nathan Hale was born in Coventry, Connecticut in 1755. In 1768, when he was thirteen years old, he was sent with his brother Enoch to Yale College. Nathan was a classmate of fellow patriot spy Benjamin Tallmadge. There is a long history between Yale and the intelligence service of the United States, the CIA in particular. This connection still exists today. The Hale brothers belonged to the Yale literary fraternity, Linonia, which debated topics in astronomy, mathematics, literature, and the ethics of slavery. Graduating with first-class honors in 1773, Nathan became a teacher, first in East Haddam and later in New London. After the Revolutionary War began in 1775, he joined a Connecticut militia and was elected first lieutenant. When his militia unit participated in the Siege of Boston, Hale remained behind, but, on July 6, 1775, he joined the regular Continental Army's 7th Connecticut Regiment under Colonel Charles Webb of Stamford. He was promoted to captain and in March 1776, commanded a small unit of Lt. Col. Thomas Knowlton's Rangers defending New York City. They managed to rescue a ship full of provisions from the guard of a British man-of-war.