Captain Nathan Hale

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From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

Nathan Hale was a descendant of John Hale, first minister of Banby, Massachusetts. He was the sixth child of Richard and Elizabeth Hale, and was born in Coventry, Connecticut. He graduated at Yale College in 1773, with distinguished honors. Of his private history little is known. The subjoined account was published some time after his execution. –The following is a genuine specimen of Tory benevolence, and may be depended upon as real matter of fact: —

“Samuel Hale, late of Portsmouth, in New Hampshire, after his elopement from thence, visited an uncle in Connecticut, where he was hospitably entertained; but as his uncle was a Whig, and had a son, a young gentleman of a liberal education and most amiable disposition, who strongly felt for his bleeding country, and being very active in the military way, was urged and prevailed upon to take a commission in the Continental army; consequently Samuel was obliged to conduct with caution, and counterfeit, as well as he could, a whiggish phiz while he tarried, which, however, was but a short time, before he made his escape to General Howe in New York. Some time after this, Captain Hale, at the request of the general, went into New York in disguise, and having nearly accomplished his designs, whom should he meet but his aforesaid cousin Samuel, whom he attempted to shun, but Sam knew him too well. Captain Hale soon found he was advertised, and so particularly described that he could not get through Long Island; he therefore attempted to escape by the way of King’s Bridge, and so far succeeded as to get to the outer guard, where he was suspected, apprehended, carried back and tried, and yet would have been acquitted had not his affectionate and grateful cousin Samuel appeared and made oath, that he was a captain in the Continental army, and that he was in there as a spy; in consequence of which he was immediately hung up. However, at the gallows he made a sensible and spirited speech, among other things told them they were shedding the blood of the innocent, and that if he had ten thousand lives, he would lay them all down, if called to it, in defence of this injured, bleeding country.

“The Printers throughout the continent are desired to exhibit this tragical scene to the public, that they may see what mercy they are to expect if they fall into the hands of Tories.”

-Freeman’s Journal, February 18, 1777.

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