Happy Birthday to Nathan Hale

Nathan Hale was born at Coventry, Connecticut on this day in 1755. He was educated at Yale, graduating at eighteen, probably with plans to become a minister after acquiring a bit of experience. He taught school at New London, volunteering to teach a class of girls for two hours each day before the all-male class arrived. When war broke out, he called for volunteers to fight for independence, and became a first lieutenant in the Seventh Connecticut regiment. A year later, a captain at 21, he agreed to go behind British lines, spending a week in New York making drawings of British positions. He was caught when he prepared to get in the wrong boat to take the drawings (stuffed in his shoes) back to General Washington. In the face of that evidence he admitted his name, rank, and purpose, and was summarily hanged the next morning. Legend relates his last words as, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

In honor of Hale’s bravery, here are some quotes:

The bravest thing you can do when you are not brave is to profess courage and act accordingly.
     – Corra Harris, 1869 – 1935

Brave men are all vertebrates; they have their softness on the surface and their toughness in the middle.
     – Gilbert Keith Chesterton, 1874 – 1936

We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.
     – Helen Keller, 1880 – 1968

The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.
     – Thucydides

In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.
     – Mark Twain, 1904

Gold is tried by fire, brave men by adversity.
     – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

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James A. Restucci is the author of this blog. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Internal License.

2 Responses to Happy Birthday to Nathan Hale

  1. jimr says:

    I agree TV, and I am happy to say that my former home state agrees as well, in 1985, with help from the Connecticut Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, The Connecticut General Assembly (Senate and House) voted in favor of making him the State Hero. In the official record, it states in part, “By every action of his short life, Hale exemplified the ideals of patriotism.” – I agree!

  2. TVNews says:

    Nathan was a hero in every sense of the word.

    It is interesting to note that had the Revolutionary War gone the other way, his name and his words (if they were even quoted) would have been a footnote in history detailing the capture and execution of a traitorous spy.