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Born on June 6, 1755, Nathan Hale was an American soldier who served as a spy for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. In 1776, he was sent to New York on a covert mission. However, the British discovered his identity and captured him. He was hanged the day after his arrest. It is said that before his hanging, he uttered this hauntingly patriotic line — “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country”.
See the fact file below for more information on the Nathan Hale or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Nathan Hale worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
EARLY AND PERSONAL LIFE
- Nathan was a middle child, the sixth in a brood of twelve. He was the second son of Richard and Elizabeth Hale, both devout Puritans. The couple instilled the virtues upheld by the Puritans in their children — piety and the importance of education and hard work.
- He was the great grandson of Reverend John Hale, a prominent figure during the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. He was also the uncle of Edward Everett, orator, statesman and the other speaker at Gettysburg.
- At the age of 14, he went to Yale with his brother Enoch. They became part of the Linonia Society, a fraternity which debated topics in mathematics, astronomy, literature and relevant topics in those days, like slavery and women’s rights.
- It was during his years at Yale that he met and befriended Benjamin Tallmadge. Tallmadge was his classmate and a fellow Linonian. He greatly influenced Hale’s view and decision about military combat later on. Both Hale and Tallmadge endeared themselves to women while at Yale when they debated in favor of women’s rights.
- At the age of 18, in 1773, Hale graduated from Yale and taught in East Haddam and New London.
- When the American Revolutionary War broke out in 1775, Hale joined a militia in Connecticut. He quickly rose up in the ranks and became a first lieutenant in five months.
- But despite his rank, Hale did not take active participation in military combat even when his unit participated in the Boston Siege.
- It was his Yale friend, Benjamin Tallmadge, who convinced him to take a more active role in army combat. He wrote to Nathan Hale after the Siege of Boston, “Was I in your condition, I think the more extensive service would be my choice. Our holy Religion, the honor of our God, a glorious country, and a happy constitution is what we have to defend,” Tallmadge wrote in his letter.
LIFE AS SPY
- Inspired by the letter from Talmadge, Hale accepted a commission as first lieutenant in the 7th Connecticut Regiment. The regiment was under the command of Colonel Charles Webb of Stamford.
- In the Spring of 1776, the forces under General Washington moved to Manhattan Island to prevent the British from taking over New York City. With British invasion on the island looming over them, the General desperately wanted to know where the British would strike first. To find out, he needed a man willing to go behind the enemy lines . . . a spy.
- After the British emerged victorious in the Battle of Long Island and indeed captured New York City, Nathan Hale offered his services as a spy, to report on the enemy troop movements on September 8, 1776. At that time, spying was frowned upon. Spies were considered illegal soldiers and, if caught, faced immediate death. From the start, Hale knew the risks, but he still volunteered. As a matter of fact, he was the only one to do so.
- Hale was shipped off to New York City under the guise of a Dutch schoolteacher.
- On September 21, 1776, the Great New York Fire of 1776 burned down a quarter of Lower Manhattan. The fire resulted in the the British rounding up over 200 American partisans, including Nathan Hale.
- Accordingly, American saboteurs started the fire to keep New York from falling into the hands of their enemy. General Washington and the Congress denied this. Allegations fell on British soldiers instead who were said to have started the fire by acting without orders.
- Some accounts say that Major Robert Rogers, a member of the Queen’s Rangers, was able to recognize Nathan Hale despite his disguise. He carried on a conversation with Hale, convincing Hale that he himself was a Patriot. Eventually, Rogers and his fellow Rangers captured Hale near Flushing Bay, Queens. But other accounts state that it was Samuel Hale, a cousin and a Loyalist, who turned Nathan Hale over to British hands.
- When incriminating evidence, like maps and written information about the British troop movements, was found on his person, Nathan Hale was tried for espionage and sentenced to die the next day. He was hanged the morning of September 22, 1776, at the age of only 21.
- Nathan Hale’s last words are among the most memorable lines of the American Revolution. Although there are several accounts that state he said something patriotic and impressive, there are no physical records of the actual impassioned speech/declaration he made before his death. The nationalistic line greatly attributed to him came from a second source, a certain American officer by the name of William Hull. Hull wasn’t a first-account witness of Hale’s death. The story was told to him by a British officer, John Montresor, who was present when Hale was hanged.
- Nathan Hale’s body was left hanging for a few days and was later buried in an unmarked grave. His family never found his body. They just put up an empty grave monument in his honor. It stands today in Nathan Hale Cemetery in Connecticut.
- There are no existing pictures or portraits of Nathan Hale. His statues were based on idealized images of him, as what several people who knew him described him to be. A fellow soldier described Nathan as golden-haired with blue eyes and darker eyebrows, and said Hale was taller than the average [in those times].
- Nathan Hale was declared the state hero of Connecticut in 1985.
Nathan Hale Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Nathan Hale across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Nathan Hale worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Nathan Hale who was an American soldier who served as a spy for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. In 1776, he was sent to New York on a covert mission. However, the British discovered his identity and captured him. He was hanged the day after his arrest. It is said that before his hanging, he uttered this hauntingly patriotic line — “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country”.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Nathan Hale Facts
- Spy Named Hale
- Revolutionary War Timeline
- Hale and Education
- Hale and Tallmadge
- Letter to Hale
- Continental Spy
- Hero Perspective
- Patriotic Lines
- Famous Spies
- Inspired by Hale
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Link will appear as Nathan Hale Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, August 14, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
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