On this day in 1776 Nathan Hale was hung for spying during American Revolution.
Nathan Hale (June 6, 1755 – September 22, 1776) was a soldier for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He volunteered for an intelligence-gathering mission in New York City but was captured by the British and executed.
He is probably best remembered for his purported last words before being hanged: “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country. Hale has long been considered an American hero and, in 1985, he was officially designated the state hero of Connecticut.
By all accounts, Hale comported himself eloquently before the hanging.Over the years, there has been some speculation as to whether he specifically uttered the famous line:
“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
But may be a revision of:
“I am so satisfied with the cause in which I have engaged that my only regret is that I have not more lives than one to offer in its service.”
The story of Hale’s famous quote began with John Montresor, a British officer who witnessed the hanging. Soon after the execution, Montresor spoke with the American officer William Hull about Hale’s death. Later, it was Hull who widely publicized Hale’s use of the phrase. Because Hull was not an eyewitness to Hale’s speech, some historians have questioned the reliability of the account.