One of the first heroes of the American Revolution (1775-1783) was a young man named Nathan Hale. Early in the war, Hale spied on the British, gathering important information for the American Continental Army. But he was caught by the British and hanged.
Nathan Hale was born in Coventry, Connecticut, in 1755. For a boy of that time he was well educated, attending Yale College (now Yale University). He graduated from Yale at age 18 and taught school for two years. In 1775, Hale joined the Continental Army to fight against the British. The next year, he earned a promotion to captain.
By September 1776, tens of thousands of British soldiers had captured areas of New York. Hale was part of the American forces in New York under Major Thomas Knowlton. Hale volunteered to spy for the Americans behind the British lines on Long Island.
Young Hale disguised himself as a schoolteacher and slipped over to the British side. He passed on military information about the British to the Continental Army. But before Hale could escape back to the American side, British soldiers captured him.
On September 22, 1776, the British hanged Hale as a spy in New York City. He was only 21 years old. Hale’s last words have become an American legend. He is supposed to have said: “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”