Nathan Hale: A True Patriot
Nathan Hale was born in Coventry, Connecticut on June 6, 1755. Nathan Hale was born to Richard Hale, a successful farmer, and Elizabeth Hale. Richard Hale had immigrated to Coventry from Newbury, Massachusetts in 1746. Elizabeth was the daughter of Joseph Strong. Elizabeth and Richard had twelve children, of whom Nathan was the sixth. Nathan and his brother Enoch, born within two years of him. Enoch and Nathan enjoyed their school and Nathan Hale, at the excercises of the Commencement Day, took what is called a pert that shows that Nathan was one of the thirteen scholars of highest rank in his class. According to the record of the college society to which he belonged, it appears that Nathan had fun doing their theatrical performances. Nathan probably intended to be a Christian minister, like his brother Enoch, when he graduated at age eighteen. But he began his life as a teacher in the public schools, and in 1774 accepted to become a teacher of the Union Grammar School, a school for the better education of the gentlemen of New London, Connecticut. Hale considered whether the higher education of females were not neglected in his commencement address. And it was decided, by the Union School in New London, that he would teach class of "twenty young ladies" in the same studies as their brothers. Hale later was enrolled in the militia, even though he was "not of age." A town meeting was called as soon as the news of Lexington and Concord reached New London. Nathan Hale was a speaker at this meeting. "Let us march immediately and ner lay down our arms until we obtain our independence," he proclaimed. He went to his job the next day, but this time only to say goodbye. "He gave [his students] earnest counsel, prayed with them, shook each by hand" and finally, gave them a reluctant farewell. "It is said that there is no other record so early as this in which the word 'independence' was publicly spoken. It would seem as if the uncalculating courage of a boy of twenty were needed to break the spell which still gave dignity to colonial submission."
Nathan resigned his occupation of a teacher when he was commissioned as First Lieutenant in the Seventh Connecticut regiment. The first duty belonging to the regiment was in neighborhood of New London to refine their discipline. The Seventh Connecticut Regiment was ordered to Cambridge, Roxbury, Brooklyn, and Phoenix. He then became a spy. Nathan left for Stamford from the camp in September with Stephen Hempstead, a sergeant in another regiment, from whom the last direct account of the journey was recorded. Nathan crossed to Long Island in the garb of a citizen and, as Hempstead had believed, took him his college diploma, meaning to "assume the aspect of a Connecticut schoolmaster visiting New York in the hope to establish himself." Nathan landed near Oyster Bay and told the boatman to return on the 20th of September. He made it to New York and "prosecuted his inquiries." He returned to Oyster Bay on the 20th of September and waited for the boat to arrive. His boat, or at least what he thought was he boat, arrived and Hale made a signal from the shore. Apparently, the boat was from a British frigate and had come in for water. Hale tried to make an escape, but it was too late! He was captured and examined. His memoranda, written in Latin, was hidden in the soles of his shoes. He was then taken to New York, where, in the midst of confusion from a recent fire, he was sent to General Howe's headquarters, where he met his fate. There was no trial for Nathan Hale, for the papers in his pocket were a very strong testimony. It was decided by General Howe that Nathan Hale be hanged the next morning. That night of September 21, Hale was confined to the greenhouse of Howe's headquarters. Hale was led to his death early the next morning. When he asked for a bible, his request was refused. Before being hanged on an apple tree in Rutgers's orchard, he was asked to make his final "speech and confession." He replied, "I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." With those enlightening words, Nathan Hale was hanged on the 22nd of September, 1976, at the age of 21.