At the age of 21, he swung by his neck from a tree after being tormented, beaten and cajoled by others his age. A young Yale graduate, he was hung by a 13-year-old teen, under orders by the British command on September 22, 1776.
At his hanging, it is said that he delivered a spirited speech, including the famous, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country”
Nathan Hale died behind enemy lines as he was gathering information about enemy troop strength and positions. He knew he would probably die, but volunteered for the mission anyway.
Waiting for the information were thousands of farmers, college students, laborers, professionals, fathers and grandfathers who had been battling unsuccessfully to take Manhattan back from British control. Many had walked all the way from Boston after celebrating a successful routing of the British.
The Red Coats simply abandoned Boston after being bombarded, causing them to load 120 ships with 11,000 people and supplies on March 17, 1776.
After taking refuge in Halifax, the English reorganized and descended upon New York in June, just days prior to the colonists declaring their independence. The revolutionaries would be defeated in New York and ultimately retreated to Pennsylvania. A long and painful journey had just begun. And Nathan Hale would be one of many who would lay down their lives for generations to come.
What we often forget is that the revolution was fueled by youth. Young spirits who assumed they would be killed, mocked or bankrupt, not for country (they had none), but for the simple belief that they had a natural right to govern themselves.
In 1765 when the pivotal stamp act was passed, Thomas Jefferson began his revolutionary thoughts at the age of 19, James Madison was merely 14, John Adams was 30 and George Washington was the elder statesman at 33.
Just eleven years later they would be joined by a 19-year-old icon by the name of Lafayette and of course a 21-year-old volunteer named Nathan Hale who would be hung from a tree.. Hale chose death for his liberty, or should I say ours.
Let us never, ever, forget.