“Nathan Hale, a martyr soldier of the American Revolution, was born in Coventry, Conn., June 6, 1755. When but little more than twenty-one years old he was hanged, by order of British General William Howe, as a spy, in the city of New York, on September 22, 1776.
“Nathan Hale’s father was Richard Hale, who had emigrated to Coventry, from Newbury, Mass., in 1746, and had married Elizabeth, the daughter of Joseph Strong. By her he had twelve children, of whom Nathan was the sixth. He sent to Yale College at one time his two sons, Enoch and Nathan, who had been born within two years of each other.
“In his commencement address Hale had considered the question whether the higher education of women were not neglected. And, in the arrangement of the Union School at New London, it was determined that between the hours of five and seven in the morning, he should teach a class of “twenty young ladies” in the studies which occupied their brothers at a later hour.
“He was thus engaged in the year 1774. The whole country was alive with the movements and discussions which came to a crisis in the battle of Lexington the next year. Hale, though not of age, was enrolled in the militia and was active in the military organization of the town.
“So soon as the news of Lexington and Concord reached New London, a town-meeting was called. At this meeting, this young man, not yet of age, was one of the speakers. “Let us march immediately,” he said, “and never lay down our arms until we obtain our independence.”
“He was commissioned as First Lieutenant in the Seventh Connecticut regiment... Hale marched with the regiment to New London, whence they all went by water to New York. On that critical night, when the whole army was moved across to New York after the defeat at Brooklyn, the regiment rendered effective service.
“Washington had been driven up the island of New York, and was holding his place with the utmost difficulty. On September 6th he wrote, “We have not been able to obtain the least information as to the enemy’s plans.” In sheer despair at the need of better information then the Tories of New York City would give him, the great commander consulted his council, and at their direction summoned Knowlton to ask for some volunteer of intelligence, who would find his way into the English lines, and bring back some tidings that could be relied upon. Knowlton summoned a number of officers, and stated to them the wishes of their great chief. The appeal was received with dead silence.
“But Nathan Hale, his youngest captain, broke the silence. “I will undertake it,” he said. He had come late to the meeting. He was pale from recent sickness. But he saw an opportunity to serve, and he did the duty which came next at hand.
“Hale landed while the city was in the terror of the great conflagration of September 21st. In that fire nearly a quarter of the town was burned down. The English supposed, rightly or not, that the fire had been begun by the Americans. Two hundred persons were sent to jail upon the supposition that they were incendiaries. It is in the midst of such confusion that Hale is taken to General Howe’s head-quarters, and there he meets his doom. No testimony could be stronger against him than the papers on his person. He was not there to prevaricate, and he told them his rank and name. There was no trial, and Howe at once ordered that he should be hanged the next morning.
Early the next day he was led to his death. He asked for writing materials... He wrote two letters; one to his mother and one to a brother officer. The Provost-Marshal destroyed the letters, and assigned a reason that the rebels should not know that they had a man in their army who could die with so much firmness.”
Aside - Please reflect on that statement for a moment. The British officer was afraid that knowledge of Hale’s courage would embolden the rebels – the Americans; the traitors; the patriots.
“Hale asked for a Bible, but his request was refused. He was marched out by a guard and hanged upon an apple-tree in Rutgers’s orchard. The place was near the present intersection of East Broadway and Market Streets. Cunningham asked him to make his dying “speech and confession.
“I only regret,” he said, “that I have but one life to lose for my country.”