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Title: Nathan Hale
Author: Root, Jean Christie
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  "O Beautiful! my Country! ...,
    What were our lives without thee?
    What all our lives to save thee?
    We reck not what we gave thee;
    We will not dare to doubt thee,
  But ask whatever else, and we will dare!"

  _Commemoration Ode_,

  Cleveland, O.         New York, N. Y.


  COPYRIGHT, 1915,


  Set up and electrotyped. Published May, 1915. Reprinted
  August, 1925; March, 1929.



  NATHAN HALE'S EARLY YEARS                                            1

  COLLEGE DAYS                                                        12

  A CALL TO TEACH                                                     29

  A CALL TO ARMS                                                      44

  HALE'S ZEAL AS A SOLDIER                                            60

  A PERILOUS SERVICE                                                  71

  GRIEF FOR THE YOUNG PATRIOT                                         91

  TRIBUTES TO NATHAN HALE                                            103

  NATHAN HALE'S FRIENDS                                              114

    THE REV. JOSEPH HUNTINGTON, D.D.                                 114
    ALICE ADAMS                                                      118
    BENJAMIN TALLMADGE                                               125
    WILLIAM HULL                                                     129
    STEPHEN HEMPSTEAD                                                133
    ASHER WRIGHT                                                     136
    ELISHA BOSTWICK                                                  137
    EDWARD EVERETT HALE                                              140



  PARENTS                                                            143

  ASSERTED BETRAYAL OF NATHAN HALE                                   147

  CONTRASTS BETWEEN HALE AND ANDRÉ                                   152



It is to-day a recognized fact that no life worthy of our reverence, or
even a life calculated to awaken our fear, is the result of accident.
Whatever may be the character, its basis has been the result of
long-developing causes. This the life of Nathan Hale well illustrates.
He was born at a time and under influences that were sure to develop the
best qualities in him. He was an immediate descendant of the best of the
Puritans on both sides of the sea. His great-grandfather, John Hale, was
the son of Robert Hale, who came to America in 1632. John Hale graduated
from Harvard in 1657 and was the first pastor settled in Beverly,
Massachusetts, remaining there until he died, an aged man. An ardent
patriot, this John Hale, in 1676, gave about one-twelfth of his salary,
some seventy pounds, for defense in King Philip's War. When need arose
in the French War, he went to Canada as a volunteer, for a threefold
purpose,--so that he might accompany a number of his own parishioners,
act as chaplain for one of the regiments, and fight when his aid was

Living during the witchcraft trials, he was one of the first to be
convinced of the mistaken course pursued. We are not certain as to his
approval or disapproval of the progress of the excitement in regard to
witchcraft until it became intensely personal to his own family. His
wife was, fortunately as the results proved, accused by some misguided
person of being a witch. The well-known nobility of her life, and her
lovely character, at once convinced all who knew the circumstances that
some terrible mistake had been made by her accuser. And if a mistake had
been made in her case, why not in others? At once the deadly power of
the delusion was broken and, happily, the tide turned back forever.
There was no question after this of the Rev. Mr. Hale's viewpoint as to

In the very darkest depths of the witchcraft delusion, some
illustrations of splendid courage and noble unselfishness were
exhibited. Grewsome as it is, we cannot forbear quoting the example of
one Giles Cory, condemned to die as a witch, who knew that if he did not
confess he had bewitched people, his estate, which he wished his wife
and family to inherit, would be forfeited, and that he would be pressed
to death instead of being hanged.

Being hanged is a comparatively brief experience, while the other way is
prolonged and agonizing. But, for the sake of his family, brave old
Giles Cory calmly faced this terrible, lingering death. He must have won
from some, if not from all, the feeling that a stout-hearted and
generous man had proved his love for his own as no mere words could have

John Hale appears to have been a worthy ancestor of the youth Nathan
Hale, who, a hundred years later, so freely made a sacrifice of his

John Hale's son, Samuel, was Nathan's grandfather; he made his home in
Portsmouth, New Hampshire. One of Samuel Hale's sons, bearing his own
name, Samuel, was a Harvard man. Another son, Richard, Nathan's father,
born February 28, 1717, looking about to find the best farming lands for
the support of a future family, moved to Connecticut, and became a
farmer in South Coventry, thirty miles east of Hartford. Distinguished
from the beginning for his success in whatever he undertook in business
affairs, and also as a man of singularly upright character, Deacon
Richard Hale won the warmest regard of all who knew him. His advice and
help were sought, both in political and religious affairs, to the full
limit of the time at his command.

His farm was among the best in that section. The house that he first
occupied, probably one already on the place, was as comfortable and
convenient as the usual homes of the earlier colonists. Later a larger
house was built, big enough to accommodate a family of a dozen or more,
and many guests as well. The house in which Nathan lived as a boy is
still standing, and has fortunately come down to us with almost no

Though the forms and the voices of those who dwelt in them have long
since vanished, there still linger about these vacant rooms the most
tender and inspiring memories of the lives once developing there, now
gone forward; nothing wasted or lost, as we will believe, of anything
permanent they strove for or cared for in their dear, earthly home.

To this home Richard Hale, married May 2, 1746, at the age of
twenty-nine, brought his young bride, Elizabeth Strong. If Richard
Hale's pedigree was a good one, his wife, Elizabeth Strong, came from a
family even more finely endowed. The first of her ancestors who came to
America was Elder John Strong. He was one of the founders of
Dorchester, now a part of Boston; later he helped to found Northampton,

Mrs. Hale's grandfather, Joseph Strong, represented Coventry for
sixty-five sessions in the General Assembly of Connecticut, and when he
was ninety years of age he presided over the town meeting, suggesting by
that deed a man of some vigor, for town meetings were no playdays in
those early years. His descendants, active in whatever their hands found
to do,--in the ministry, the law, business, or politics,--were long
prominent in New England and New York, and doubtless many are to-day
still helping to mold their country's future.

The son of this Justice Joseph Strong was also named Joseph, and called
Captain Joseph Strong. In 1724 he married his second cousin, Elizabeth
Strong. He, too, was a noted man among the colonists. She, later, became
the "grandmother" to whom Nathan so warmly alludes in one of his last
letters to his brother. Captain Joseph Strong and his wife were the
parents of Elizabeth Strong who, in her nineteenth year, married Richard

To Elizabeth Strong Hale we can give but a passing notice. There is not,
it is believed, one word that she wrote now in existence, nor any record
left of that gracious womanhood, save a name on an obscure gravestone.
But what brave-hearted mother would not count it well worth while to
leave, for the coming years, the impress she left upon her many
children; one of them alone destined to carry to coming generations of
Americans the assurance that such a son could only have been borne by
one of the noblest of mothers. Dying at the age of forty,--April 21,
1767,--after a married life of twenty-one years, she had performed all
the duties then expected from the mistress of a farmer's household in a
section where the principal help that could be secured in any time of
need came from the voluntary kindnesses of neighbors; for, like one
large family, they felt it necessary to "lend a hand" whenever any one
of their number was in need. Mrs. Hale had been the mother of twelve
children when she died. Two of her children, named David and Jonathan,
were twins. One of the twins, Jonathan, died when only a week old. David
lived to be graduated from Yale and to become a minister at Lisbon,
Connecticut. A little daughter, Susanna, lived but a month, but ten of
Mrs. Hale's twelve children grew to maturity.

Nathan, the sixth child, born June 6, 1755, was the first of the ten to
die, leaving to his surviving brothers and sisters a memory that in
later years must have been an unfailing inspiration. He was delicate at
first, but owing to his mother's care he later became as robust in body
as he was in mind. For an older brother, Enoch, the plan was formed of
sending him to college to prepare for the ministry, a custom then
prevalent among many of the large and prosperous families in New
England. Nathan was at first destined for a business life; but because
of the urgent desire of his mother, heartily seconded by that of his
Grandmother Strong, he was allowed to enter college with his brother
Enoch in 1769, when he was fourteen years old; this was two years after
the death of his mother. Four of Mrs. Hale's immediate relatives were
graduates of Yale,--a fine illustration of the value those progressive
pioneers attached to education.

As a boy Nathan was to his mother what he later became to all who knew
him; and the bond between such a mother and such a son must have been
very tender and strong. It is a comfort to those who know what such
mothers desire for their children, to remember the gladness and hope
with which this mother, overworked and dying long before her time,
looked forward to the days coming to her children. For Nathan, through
her influence, was to become one of Yale's noblest sons.

As Nathan's mother died nine years before he did, we understand the full
meaning of the line in Judge Finch's poem,

  "The sad of Earth, the glad of Heaven,"

written many years later in honoring Nathan's splendid sacrifice. The
poem to which the line belongs, read more than sixty years ago on the
one-hundredth anniversary of the Linonian Society, an organization of
Yale College of which Nathan Hale had been an early and an active
member, had much influence in rousing first Yale men, and then other
patriotic Americans, to recognize Nathan Hale as one of America's
bravest martyrs.

Mrs. Hale died in 1767. About two years later Deacon Hale married again,
bringing to his home this time a widow, Mrs. Abigail Adams, of
Canterbury, who must have been well fitted to take her place as the new
head of the family. No ignoble mother could rear such children as she
had reared, and Deacon Hale's second choice of a wife proved a wise and
happy one. Providence appears to have smiled upon him when he opened his
doors and invited Mrs. Adams and her children to share his home, and
even the affection of some of his sons. It is said that two of Deacon
Hale's sons fell in love with her youngest daughter, Alice Adams, who,
at Deacon Hale's desire, came to live permanently in the family in 1770
or 1771, while his second son, John, married her eldest daughter, Sarah
Adams, on December 19, 1770.

The lives of both these women, Sarah and Alice Adams, are sufficient
witnesses to the high character of the new mother added to the Hale
household. To several of his biographers it has seemed quite probable
that Nathan Hale wrote one of his last two letters to this mother. We
grant that it may have been addressed to her, while intended for the
reading of another. Of this, later.

In regard to the marriage of John Hale and Sarah Adams it may be as well
to state here that, after a married life of thirty-one years, John Hale
died suddenly in December, 1802, his health probably undermined by his
service in the Revolutionary War, where he held the rank of major. His
widow, desiring to carry out what she believed would have been his
wishes, "bequeathed £1000 to trustees as a fund, the income of which was
to be used for the support of young men preparing for missionary
service,"--probably among the Indians, as this was before the support of
foreign missions was undertaken in America--"and in part for founding
and supporting the Hale Library in Coventry, to be used by the ministers
of Coventry and the neighboring towns." Included in the bequest for
founding the still existing so-called "Hale Donation" was a portrait of
the donor's husband, Major John Hale;--well painted, for the period, and
now of great interest. Mrs. John Hale died a few months after her
husband. It is easy to believe that, though born of different parents,
the Hale and Adams families were congenial mentally and morally, and
that Deacon Richard Hale was a wise and fortunate man in his choice of a
second mother for his children.

According to his mother's and grandmother's wishes, it was early decided
that Nathan should be prepared to enter college. After the fashion of
those times, he and two of his brothers began their preparatory studies
under the direction of the Rev. Joseph Huntington, D.D., then pastor of
the church in Nathan's native town. He is said to have been a man noted
for his intellectual power, for his patriotism, and for his courteous

It may be well to say here that, in those early days, the New England
ministers usually settled in one pastorate for life, and they were not
only teachers in spiritual things, but were noted for their courteous
and dignified manners; so that even before he entered college Nathan
Hale must have had ample opportunities for the cultivation of the easy
manners and courteous deportment which are said by all who knew him to
have been so marked in him.

Nathan Hale, as a boy, had one more asset that must have helped to
insure his future success, and that did, as we believe, help him to die
nobly. He was not overindulged; he had always the spur of effort to urge
him forward. It was told of him, many years after his death, by the
woman he had loved and who had known him well all his later years, Mrs.
Alice Adams Lawrence, that whatever he did, even as boy, he did with all
his heart, as if it engrossed his whole mind. Whether it was work, or
study, or play, he gave all his energies to the doing of it. Such a
disposition, together with his fine home training, must have helped to
insure his success in Yale.



In September, 1769, accompanied by Enoch, an older brother, Nathan Hale
entered the Freshman class at Yale. His personal traits easily won the
hearts of his classmates, while his quick understanding, his high
scholarship, and his loyalty to the college standards made him as
popular among tutors and professors as among his classmates. It is
pleasant to know that, from the time we first learn of him until we see
him standing beside the fatal tree, he appears to have won all hearts
worth winning.

But Nathan Hale had yet another gift that would surely endear him to
college students of to-day as much as it doubtless did to his own
classmates. He was a powerful athlete. So great was his skill in this
line that, to successive generations of Yale men, the "broad jump" made
by Nathan Hale remained unequaled. It is said to have taken place on
what is now called "The Green" in New Haven, not far from the Old State
House; and for many years the spot was marked to designate the length
of the jump. Even during the years when his courageous death appeared to
be well-nigh forgotten, "Hale's jump" was vividly remembered. But he not
only "jumped," he excelled in all games then popular in college, besides
being a capital shot with his rifle, as well as a fine swimmer.

Hale could, it is said, lay one hand on the top of a six-foot fence and
easily vault over it; and, though this astonishing feat is reported as
occurring while he was a teacher, he used to delight his companions by
showing them how to stand in a hogshead with his hands on his hips, leap
over the first hogshead, land in a second, leap from that into a third,
and from that out on to the ground,--all this before he was twenty.

Imagine the delight of the "other fellows" standing around to watch Hale
go through his various stunts in athletics! It almost makes one feel as
if one had been a student and shared in the cheering when Hale did these
things, so easy to himself, so difficult to the onlookers. Then fancy
the talk at the supper tables, when the candles burned brightly and the
eatables tasted twice as good because "old Hale" had won laurels for
"old Yale" that afternoon by some "splendid" deed, as the boys called
it. Whatever he did, we may be sure that it was done well and with all
his might, and that nobody equaled him.

This much for the athletic life of Hale in his student days. It was only
natural to such a man that whatever he was--friend, student, teacher, or
soldier--he should carry zest and earnestness to all his work, even as
he carried his manliness, his courtesy, and his unquenchable spirit.

Let us now turn to the record of his years of successful work at Yale.
It has been said that whatever he did, he did with all his might, and
his brain work was as notable in its results as were the strength and
agility of his body. In those early days the college bell rang for
prayers, as the beginning of the day's work, at half past four in summer
and an hour later in winter; and there are men still living who
remember, in later years and at later hours, the wild rushes
half-dressed students used to make, adjusting what they could of their
hastily donned clothing on their race to morning chapel.

Hale, however, as well as his companions a hundred and forty years ago,
were accustomed to early rising, and able to fill every hour of their
long days with work or play. The course of study then was much shorter
than it is now, but if lacking in quantity it certainly made up in some
of its qualities. We doubt if Freshmen to-day would outshine their
fellows of that very early time if their declamations on Fridays were
required to be in Latin, Greek, or Hebrew, "no English being allowed
save by special permission."

Science as we now know it had not entered into the college course, but
the little then known, and the other studies considered essential,
comparatively limited as they must have been, were taught so thoroughly
that the men who carried away a college diploma carried a sure guarantee
that they had been carefully taught whatever was then considered
essential to a college education.

Although it is true that science was then in comparative infancy, it is
also true that it was deeply absorbing to young Hale. Some of his most
valued books were scientific, and, aside from the studies he was obliged
to pursue, he eagerly absorbed educational theories and the best
literary works then available. As a college student, he stood high; as a
thinker and as one interested in the finest pursuits of his period, he
ranked equally high. Before he was nineteen he had won the permanent
friendship and ardent admiration of a man who was then his tutor,
Timothy Dwight, later the renowned president of Yale College, and to
the end of his long life a lover of his boy-friend, Nathan Hale.

Another warm friend, a classmate, destined to be notable in future
years, was James Hillhouse, later United States Senator, the first man
to leave the stamp of beauty on his native city, New Haven, in the
wonderful elms of his planting.

In addition to these two noted men, many of Hale's warmest friendships
were formed at college among the leading men of his own and of other
classes. At least two or three of these were his companions in arms, to
whom we may refer later. Of his scholarship, one sure test remains. At
graduation, of the thirty-six men in his class, he ranked among the
first thirteen.

In one other important line Nathan Hale made a notable mark in college,
namely, in his intense interest in Linonia. This society had been
founded in 1753 "to promote in addition to the regular course of
academic study, literary stimulus and rhetorical improvement to the
undergraduates," and to create friendly relations among its members. The
organization lived a long and honorable life, and did a most helpful
work among its members. Nathan Hale was the first in his class to become
its Chancellor, later styled President. He was for some time also its
scribe, and many of his entries in the Linonian reports are still
"clear throughout and well-preserved" as is his signature at the end,
after the passing of more than a hundred years.

During his college course his name occurs in the reports of almost every
meeting of the society. At one time he delivered "a very interesting
narration"; at another, "an eloquent extemporaneous address." On various
occasions he is said to have taken part in some of the plays that were
frequently acted, and to have proposed questions for discussion.

Besides taking part in the society and college exercises, he enjoyed
frequent correspondence with a number of his classmates on themes of
taste and criticism and of grammar and philology.

As incoming Chancellor at the end of the college year of 1772, Hale
responded in behalf of Linonia to the parting address from one of the
graduating class.

Hale's farewell address to the Linonians of the class of 1772 is
preserved to Yale College on the society records. In reading it one must
remember that the speech was made by a boy of seventeen. The dignity of
the address, the assured ease with which he speaks, the sense of the
Yale bond, as strong then as it ever has been, all show the only boyish
thing about the speaker, namely, his sense of the superiority of
Linonia, then nearly twenty years old, to the struggling new society of
"The Brothers," less than eight years old. All this brings before us
very vividly a boy in years, but a man in thoughts and aspirations,
ardent and scholarly, and full of a noble ambition that looked forward,
as do all ambitious students in their college days, to years of generous

A few paragraphs quoted from various parts of the quaintly courteous
speech will illustrate alike the youth and the maturity of the speaker.
He said:

"The high opinion we ought to maintain of the ability of these worthy
Gentlemen" [the retiring members of the Society] "as well as the regard
they express for Linonia and her Sons, tends very much to increase our
desire for their longer continuance. Under whatsoever character we
consider them, we have the greatest reason to regret their departure. As
our patrons, we have shared their utmost care and vigilance in
supporting Linonia's cause, and protecting her from the malice of her
insulting foes. As our benefactors, we have partaken of their
liberality, not only in their rich and valuable donations to our
library, but, what is still more, their amiable company and

["This is a fine portrait of Hale painted by himself," says a friend of
Hale to-day.]

"But as our friends, what inexpressible happiness have we experienced in
their disinterested love and cordial affection! We have lived together
not as fellow students and members of the same college, but as brothers
and children of the same family; not as superiors and inferiors, but
rather as equals and companions. The only thing which hath given them
the preëminence is their superior knowledge in those arts and sciences
which are here cultivated, and their greater skill and prudence in the
management of such important affairs as those which concern the good
order and regularity of this Society. Under the prudent conduct of these
our once worthy patrons, but now parting friends, things have been so
wisely regulated, as that while we have been entertained with all the
pleasures of familiar conversation, we have been no less profited by our
improvements in useful knowledge and literature."

Hale's direct address to the parting members is as follows:

"Kind and generous Sirs, it is with the greatest reluctance that we are
now all obliged to bid adieu to you, our dearest friends. Fain would we
ask you longer to tarry--but it is otherwise determined, and we must
comply. Accept then our sincerest thanks, as some poor return for your
disinterested zeal in Linonia's cause, and your unwearied pains to
suppress her opposers.... Be assured that we shall be spirited in
Linonia's cause and with steadiness and resolution strive to make her
shine with unparalleled luster.... Be assured that your memory will
always be very dear to us; that though hundreds of miles should
interfere, you will always be attended with our best wishes.

"May Providence protect you in all your ways, and may you have
prosperity in all your undertakings! May you live long and happily, and
at last die satisfied with the pleasures of this world, and go hence to
that world where joys shall never cease, and pleasures never end! Dear
Gentlemen, farewell!"

Not only in speeches but also in deeds Hale proved his love for Linonia.
He is said to have contributed some of his own books to the library of
the Society, and to have coöperated with Timothy Dwight and James
Hillhouse in promoting its growth. In time the library owned more than
thirteen thousand volumes. These three Linonians were always considered
its real founders, and were so honored at the Society's centennial
anniversary on July 27, 1853.

Timothy Dwight, the first of that name to be president of Yale College,
was, like Nathan Hale, a descendant of Elder Strong who founded
Northampton, Massachusetts. Dwight graduated in 1769, the year Hale
entered college. He then became a tutor and was a personal friend of
Hale's. He was a teacher of extraordinary power and was made president
of Yale in 1795. He was one of the most remarkable men of his time,
molding the moral and religious, as well as intellectual, character of
the college so that his influence extended not only over the whole state
but, to a great degree, over the whole United States. He was a fine
illustration of the great abilities that centered in so many of the
leading families of the colonists. Such connections as this man add even
a higher luster to the genealogy of Elizabeth Strong Hale, and lessen
our wonder that a son of hers, while hardly more than a boy, could face
the duty and calmly accept the responsibility that he felt rested upon

As may easily be inferred, the Hale boys, Enoch and Nathan, were not
forgotten by their home friends while making honorable records in
college, and forming pleasant friendships outside the college
walls--then the happy lot of all the best men in college--among the
cultured families of what was then a small New England city.

An instance of the friendships Nathan made in New Haven is shown by the
words of Æneas Munson, M.D., formerly of that city. When an aged man he
spoke in the warmest terms of Hale's fine qualities as he observed them
when he was a boy in his father's house, and he treasured a letter to
his father from Hale in 1774 which will be given farther on.

Of home letters, happily a few from their father in Coventry to his two
sons in college are still preserved; these prove, as no words of any
stranger could, his constant and practical interest in all that
concerned them. They show us how an upright father tried to influence
his boys' religious characters while distant from them, and at the same
time they show the economies which even well-to-do fathers then had to
exercise in providing for their sons while at college. The first letter
also shows that Nathan must have entered college when fourteen years and
three months old, having been born in June, 1755, and entering college
in September, 1769. We here give the first letter, with all its quaint
old spelling, and after it two others written during successive years.
We may smile at their old-time expressions, but we must own to a sincere
admiration for the kind and thoughtful father, so interested in his
boys, and so solicitous concerning their health "after the measles."


     I Rec'd your Letter of the 7th instant and am glad to hear that you
     are well suited with Living in College and would let you know that
     wee are all well threw the Divine goodness, as I hope these lines
     will find you. I hope you will carefully mind your studies that
     your time be not Lost and that you will mind all the orders of
     College with care.... I intend to send you some money the first
     opportunity perhaps by Mr. Sherman when he Returns home from of the
     surcit [circuit court] he is now on. If you can hire Horses at New
     Haven to come home without too much trouble and cost I don't know
     but it is best and should be glad to know how you can hire them and
     send me word. If I don't here from you I shall depend upon sending
     Horses to you by the 6th of May,--if I should have know opportunity
     to send you any money till May and should then come to New Haven
     and clear all of it would it not do? If not you will let me know
     it. Your friends are all well at Coventry--your mother sends her
     Regards to you--from your kind and loving


     COVENTRY Decr. 26th
     A.D. 1769.


     I have nothing spettial to write but would by all means desire you
     to mind your Studies and carefully attend to the orders of Coledge.
     Attend not only Prayers in the chapel but Secret Prayr carefully.
     Shun all vice especially card Playing. Read your Bibles a chapter
     night and morning. I cannot now send you much money but hope when
     Sr Strong comes to Coventry to be able to send by him what you

     from your Loving Father

     Coventry, Decr. 17th, 1770

     LOVING CHILDREN--by a line would let you know that I with my family
     threw the Divine Goodness are well as I hope these lines will find
     you. I have heard that you are better of the measles. The Cloath
     for your Coat is not Done. But will be Done next week I hope at
     furthest. I know of no opportunity we shall have to send it to
     Newhaven and have Laid in with Mr. Strong for his Horse which his
     son will Ride down to New Haven for one of you to Ride home if you
     can get Leave and have your close made at home. I sopose that one
     measure will do for both of you. I am told that it is not good to
     study hard after the measles--hope you will youse Prudance in that
     afare. If you do not one of you come home I dont see but that you
     must do with out any New Close till after Commensment. I send you
     Eight Pound in cash by Mr. Strong--hope it will do for the

     Your Loving Father

     COVENTRY August 13th, 1771

Some students of to-day in college with elder brothers might protest
vigorously at the idea of new suits provided for two boys of different
sizes being fitted for the larger, though the younger might find some
consolation in the fact that he would have plenty of room in which to
grow! At all events, good Deacon Hale's kindly letters give us a very
friendly feeling toward him, revealing as they do his love for his boys.
The letters also suggest indirectly the happy home-coming of these
college boys, riding thither on horseback over many miles, buoyed up by
high spirits, college news, and the prospect of vacation.

In their home, as time went by, they found the two new members of the
family, their stepmother's daughters, Nathan to find in Alice Adams, the
youngest, some of the happiest inspirations of his manly young life. It
is pleasant to linger a moment and try to realize the pride Deacon Hale
must have felt in his boys, and their delight in being once more home
with him and with all the family circle. We can fancy them as they sat
around that generous board--none the less generous, we are sure, because
of the home-coming of the "Yale boys."

Deacon Hale was a man of remarkable energy--"a driver," in other words.
As a rule, in the busiest season of the year he would finish his meal
before the family were half through theirs, rise, return thanks, and be
off to the field, leaving the others to resume their seats around the
table. Alice Adams used to say of him, "I never saw a man work so hard
for both worlds as Deacon Hale."

One amusing incident was long in circulation and laughed over by many
who did not know the energetic haymaker by name. As it really happened
to Deacon Hale, it is worth telling as an example of the energy that has
characterized his descendants.

One haying season Deacon Hale hired a tall, brawny countryman, of
uncommon strength, to help him house his crop. While in the field he
took upon himself the task of "packing" the load, the hired man's duty
being to pitch it on to the cart. The man began his work too slowly to
suit Deacon Hale, who soon called out, "More hay!" This call he repeated
three or four times, as cock after cock of hay was still somewhat lazily
pitched up to him. Finally his tardy helper, becoming sensible that his
easy way of working was being rebuked, set himself to work with a will
equal to the Deacon's, and at last pitched the hay up so rapidly that
his employer was unable to "pack" it properly upon the cart. Very soon,
therefore, to the dismay of both men, the whole load slipped off in one
great mass on to the ground, carrying the Deacon along with it!

"What do you want now, Deacon?" shouted the Hercules by his side with a
satisfied grin.

"_More hay!_" instantly replied the discomfited Deacon, nimbly
scrambling back to his place on the cart.

Despite this little accident at the beginning of the afternoon, it is
safe to state that a generous storage of hay took place before sunset.

But happy as were these college days and home-comings, and rich as were
the harvests gleaned in them, the four years in college halls sped
swiftly, and in 1773 Enoch Hale and Nathan turned their faces toward the
future; the one to a long life and faithful Christian service, the other
toward the briefest of mortal days, but to a service whose memory will
not end till his college walls shall have crumbled, and the names of all
its heroic sons faded from the earth. For even though stones may
crumble, influence lives on.

It has already been said that at graduation Nathan Hale stood among the
first thirteen in a class of thirty-six. On Commencement Day, September
3, 1773, he took part in a forensic debate on the question, "Whether the
Education of Daughters be not, without any just reason, more neglected
than that of Sons."

In "Memories of a Hundred Years" Dr. Edward Everett Hale says: "As early
as 1772 there appears at Yale College the first question ever debated
by the Linonian Society. It was, 'Is it right to enslave the Affricans?'
I think, by the way, that this record, bad spelling and all, is made by
my great-uncle, Nathan Hale." These debates show how seriously, even in
the colonial period, men were thinking of the urgent problems of later

In the debate first mentioned, the others taking part in it were
Benjamin Tallmadge, Ezra Samson, and William Robinson. Some account of
Major Tallmadge's after life is given in later pages. Samson was, for a
time, a clergyman, and then became an editor, first in Hudson, New York,
and then of the _Courant_, at Hartford, Connecticut.

William Robinson was a direct descendant of Pastor John Robinson of
Leyden. He studied for the ministry and was ordained in 1780 at
Southington, Connecticut. In the winter of that year--which was one of
the coldest and most severe on record--he walked the whole distance from
Windsor to Southington, about thirty miles, on snowshoes, to be
installed as pastor, an office he held for forty-one years.



College days behind them, Nathan, now eighteen years old, and Enoch
pressed on toward their future. Here, to some extent, we part with
Enoch, catching only occasional glimpses of him in a few straggling
letters to his brother. It is probable that, as he intended to enter the
ministry, he soon began his theological studies. In 1775 he was licensed
to preach. Nathan, however, turned toward teaching as the next step in
his career.

In the meantime Nathan's love for Alice Adams had not prospered. An
older brother, John, had married Alice Adams's elder sister Sarah, and
the mother and sister of Alice thought that she should not wait four or
five years for Nathan. Perhaps they decided that two intermarriages in
one family were quite enough; anyway, they induced Alice to accept the
offer of a prosperous merchant of Coventry, Mr. Elijah Ripley, and a
short time before Nathan's graduation her marriage had apparently
terminated their personal relations.

Nathan Hale was at this time an unusually handsome young man, almost
six feet in height, well proportioned, with broad chest, athletic, as we
have seen, and with a handsome, intelligent face, blue eyes, light brown
hair of a rich color, and a winning smile. These, added to a musical
voice and gracious manners, gave him a personal charm that attracted all
who saw him.

As a teacher he combined unusual tact and manly dignity, making his
discipline in school as effective as it was reasonable. He also proved
to be as skillful in imparting knowledge as he had been in acquiring it,
and his success as a teacher was assured from the outset.

His first school was in East Haddam, Connecticut. There was then much
wealth and business activity in the town, although, to a man fresh from
college and the city, it appeared to be a very quiet place, as one or
two of his early letters indicate. Yet there too he did with all his
might what his hands found to do, and soon proved that not only his
work, but his social qualities, were endearing him to new friends, some
of whom remembered him with pleasure during their own long lives; one of
them saying of Nathan Hale in her own old age, "Everybody loved him, he
was so sprightly, intelligent, and kind," and, she added withal, "and
_so_ handsome!" He had many correspondents among classmates and
friends. Sometimes he was stimulated to put his thoughts into rhyme by
some poetical epistle he received. One such was from Benjamin Tallmadge,
then in Wethersfield.

Tallmadge had apologized for his muse and Hale, in pure boyish fun, with
a fine disregard of whether he was invoking the muse or mounting
Pegasus, replied as follows:

  "But here, I think you're wrong, to blame
  Your gen'rous muse and call her lame,
  For when arriv'd no mark was found
  Of weakness, lameness, sprain or wound."

Then, invoking her himself, he describes her as if she were indeed the
wingèd steed,

  "With me in charge (a grievous load!)
  Along the way she lately trode,
  In all, she gave no fear or pain,
  Unless, at times, to hold the rein."

At last, on his supposed arrival at Wethersfield, he invites Tallmadge's
judgment on the appearance of the equine muse, thus:

  "Now judge, unless entirely sound
  If she could bear me such a round.
  It's certain then your muse is heal'd,
  Or else, came sound from Weathersfield."

Before the end of the first term (October, 1773, to mid-March, 1774) in
East Haddam, however, his work had aroused attention elsewhere, and in
May, 1774, he took charge of a school in New London, called the "Union
School,"--a larger school and a more lucrative position than that at
East Haddam. In it Latin, English, arithmetic, and writing were taught.
The salary was seventy pounds a year with a prospect of an increase, and
he was allowed to teach private classes as well.

It will not surprise those acquainted with human nature that, as we will
allow him to tell in a letter to a relative, he soon had a class of some
twenty young ladies between the unusual hours of five and seven in the
morning! It does not take a very vivid imagination to picture the
vivacity of these twenty young ladies, the becomingness of their simple
but pretty gowns, and the zest with which each studied; nor, on the
other hand, the ill-concealed, bantering interest of the big brothers of
the same,--asking perhaps, now and then, with mock gravity, if mother
thought Patty would be so prompt every morning at five o'clock if old
Parson Browning were the teacher!

But whatever might have been the dominant interest of the young ladies,
"Master Hale" was quite as practical in his teaching in the early hours
of the day as with the boys in the later classes. An uncle of his,
Samuel Hale, was for many years at the head of the best private school
in New Hampshire, numbering among his pupils some of the leaders in
Revolutionary times. To him, September 24, 1774, Nathan wrote a letter
from which we give the following extracts:

     "My own employment is at present the same that you have spent your
     days in. I have a school of thirty-two boys, about half Latin, the
     rest English. The salary allowed me is 70 £ per annum. In addition
     to this I have kept, during the summer, a morning school, between
     the hours of five and seven, of about 20 young ladies for which I
     have received 6s [shillings] a scholar, by the quarter. Many of the
     people are gentleman of sense and merit. They are desirous that I
     would continue and settle in the school, and propose a considerable
     increase in wages. I am much at a loss whether to accept their
     proposals. Your advice in this matter, coming from an uncle and
     from a man who has spent his life in the business, would, I think,
     be the best I could possibly receive. A few lines on this subject
     and also to acquaint me with the welfare of your family ... will be
     much to the satisfaction of

     Your most dutiful Nephew,

A letter to Enoch Hale, containing allusions to the excited feeling in
the colony at this time, runs as follows:

     NEW LONDON, Sept. 8th. 1774.


     I have a word to write and a moment to write it in. I received
     yours of yesterday this morning. Agreeable to your desire I will
     endeavour to get the cloth and carry it on Saturday. I have no
     news. No liberty-pole is erected or erecting here; but the people
     seem much more spirited than they did before the alarm. Parson
     Peters of Hebron, I hear, has had a second visit paid him by the
     sons of liberty in Windham. His treatment, and the concessions he
     made I have not as yet heard. I have not heard from home since

     I came from there.

     MR. E. HALE.   LYME.

     Your loving Brother

A letter from Hale to his friend the senior Dr. Æneas Munson, of New
Haven, has been mentioned. It runs as follows:

     NEW LONDON, November 30, 1774

     SIR: I am very happily situated here. I love my employment; find
     many friends among strangers; have time for scientific study; and
     seem to fill the place assigned me with satisfaction. I have a
     school of more than thirty boys to instruct, about half of them in
     Latin; and my salary is satisfactory. During the summer I had a
     morning class of young ladies--about a score--from five to seven
     o'clock; so you see my time is pretty fully occupied, profitably, I
     hope to my pupils and to their teacher.

     Please accept for yourself and Mrs. Munson the grateful thanks of
     one who will always remember the kindness he ever experienced
     whenever he visited your abode.

     Your friend     NATHAN HALE.

On one occasion, as Hale left his house after paying a visit, Dr. Munson
observed, "That man is a diamond of the first water, calculated to excel
in any station he assumes. He is a gentleman and a scholar, and last,
though not least of his qualifications, a Christian."

The son of Dr. Munson (who bore his father's name), when an aged man,
said: "I was greatly impressed with Hale's scientific knowledge, evinced
during his conversation with my father. I am sure he was equal to André
in solid acquirements, and his taste for art and talents as an artist
were quite remarkable. His personal appearance was as notable. He was
almost six feet in height, perfectly proportioned, and in figure and
deportment he was the most manly man I have ever met. His chest was
broad; his muscles were firm; his face wore a most benign expression;
his complexion was roseate; his eyes were light blue and beamed with
intelligence; his hair was soft and light brown in color, and his speech
was rather low, sweet, and musical. His personal beauty and grace of
manner were most charming.

"Why, all the girls in New Haven fell in love with him," continued Dr.
Munson, "and wept tears of real sorrow when they heard of his sad fate.
In dress he was always neat; he was quick to lend a helping hand to a
being in distress, brute or human; was overflowing with good humor, and
was the idol of all his acquaintances."

Young masters of schools, public or private, unmarried and attractive,
usually rank next in popularity to other professional men,--ministers,
lawyers, or doctors, as the case may be,--and a boy of nineteen, the
object of as much attention as Nathan Hale must have received, might
well be pardoned if his head had been slightly turned, in thus becoming
the admired teacher of a large class of young ladies. One special mark
of stability of character appears to have characterized this young man
in a greater degree than is always the case at the present day. Detached
as he was, as he supposed irrevocably, from the woman he loved, he
appears to have carried himself with almost middle-aged dignity, and,
what is not a little to his credit, even his intimate friends among his
classmates could not, by the most delicate cross-questioning, draw from
him anything suggesting more than a pleasant interest in any of the
young ladies with whom he was thrown in contact.

A letter that will be given in its proper place shows his courteous and
cordial interest in the little city he left when he entered the army;
yet it is rather a noteworthy fact that one of his classmates, writing
to him during his camp life, had to suggest that, as the young ladies he
had taught were always inquiring when he had heard from "Master," it
would doubtless give them pleasure if he could find time to write some
one of them a note with friendly messages to others, to show that he
still remembered them.

Many young men would hardly have needed such a suggestion. But Nathan
Hale, so far as we can learn, while given to warm friendships among his
classmates, and to the cultivation, while in New Haven, Haddam, and New
London, of the society of the best families, appears, from the
beginning, to have taken life seriously. Disappointed in the love of the
one woman for whom he cared, he had turned with sincere absorption to
the work to which he felt himself called before entering on the
theological course it is thought that his father had planned for him.

There is further evidence of Hale's notable gifts as a teacher. Colonel
Samuel Green, who had been a pupil of Hale in New London, said of him,
in oldtime phrase: "Hale was a man peculiarly engaging in his
manners--these were mild and genteel. The scholars, old and young, were
attached to him. They loved him for his tact and amiability.

"He was wholly without severity and had a wonderful control over boys.
He was sprightly, ardent, and steady--bore a fine moral character and
was respected highly by all his acquaintances. The school in which he
taught was owned by the first gentlemen in New London, all of whom were
exceedingly gratified by Hale's skill and assiduity."

A lady of New London who was for some time an inmate of the same family
with Hale, adds her testimony:

"His capacity as a teacher was highly appreciated both by parents and
pupils. His simple and unostentatious manner of imparting right views
and feelings to less cultivated understandings was unsurpassed by any
other person I have ever known."

He was, as we see, a successful teacher, and, as we learn elsewhere, had
serious thoughts of remaining a teacher.

Unexpectedly, however, events verified the truth of the old adage, "Man
proposes, God disposes." A great historical drama was to be enacted
before the eyes of the wondering world, and events were ripening that
were to form a great epoch in history.

America was being led first to protest against the unjust exactions laid
upon its people, and then to resist the oppressions that were being
forced upon it. Gradually the idea prevailed that a taxation which might
have been acceptable, if coupled with representation in Parliament, was
absolutely intolerable without representation, and the Stamp Act in 1765
struck the first note of intense opposition. Thenceforward the political
clouds grew darker and the warning incidents multiplied.

And yet, as a people, Americans were walking as if their personal plans
lay easily in their own control. Scores of young men were fitting
themselves for ordinary callings, Nathan Hale among them. His father's
plans combining with his own appeared to be that he was to teach for a
while, and then follow his brother Enoch into the ministry. As it
proved, his days as a teacher were numbered. He was never to enter a
pulpit, though he was to utter one sentence that, graven upon bronze or
granite, will last while America lasts. He was to teach, by his last,
unpremeditated words, and by an example more potent than any other in
American history, what all generations of Americans must venerate--the
sublimity of a complete sacrifice.

Smoldering discontent on the part of the Americans, waxing stronger and
stronger for a decade, and the aggressive course of action on the part
of the British authorities, finally culminated in a sudden outbreak, as
matches applied to gunpowder; and on the 19th of April, 1775, the first
blood of the American Revolution was shed. Settlement after settlement,
big and little, learned the facts as rapidly as couriers on horseback
could carry them, and the thirteen colonies arrayed themselves against
one of the most powerful monarchies of the world.

The story is too well known to need recalling here, save as it draws
Nathan Hale toward his doom. Within a few days after the fatal 19th of
April, four thousand Connecticut volunteers were on their way to Boston
to help Massachusetts in its earliest struggle with the English.
Ununiformed, undisciplined, straight from whatever had been their
ordinary vocation, with whatever they owned in the way of arms and
ammunition, they went hurrying toward Boston. Israel Putnam, renowned
veteran of the "Old French War," was plowing in his fields at Pomfret,
Connecticut, when he heard the stirring news. Leaving his plow in the
furrow, he hastened to his house, left a few orders for the management
of his farm and the comfort of his family, and marched at the head of a
body of volunteers toward the camp near Boston. We are told that, in
some households, families sat up all night, the fathers melting their
pewter plates into bullets for ammunition to be used by their sons, and
the mothers and sisters fashioning for them, with all possible speed,
the clothing they could not go without.

On the arrival of the news from Boston, the people in New London at once
held a meeting. Hon. Richard Law, District Judge of Connecticut and
Chief Justice of the Superior Court, was chairman. Hale was one of the

At that meeting a company was selected from the already existing militia
and ordered to start for Boston the next morning. This company Nathan
Hale, with his keen sense of duty, could not then join. But, for a few
succeeding weeks, in addition to his regular work in school, he did all
in his power to keep alive the interest of the young men in the town
concerning their duties as Americans. With his enthusiastic nature, and
broad comprehension of what might soon confront the country, it is
probable that his seriousness and his activity were never greater than
during the few weeks intervening between his speech at the political
meeting and his departure from New London to enter the military service
of his country.

Of course his becoming a soldier would greatly interfere with the plans
that his father had made for him, and he at once wrote home on the
subject, stating that "a sense of duty urged him to sacrifice everything
for his country"; but he added that as soon as the war was ended he
would comply with his father's wishes in regard to a profession. The
father was quite as patriotic as the son. He immediately assented to his
son's desires. In those days, however, correspondence could not be
conducted so swiftly as at present, and some time must have elapsed
before this matter was positively settled between the two. As the war
went on, and doubtless none the less whole-heartedly after the news of
Nathan's death had been received, Mr. Hale did all he could for the
comfort of passing soldiers. It is said of him that many a time he sat
at the door of his hospitable home and watched for passing soldiers that
he might take them in and feed them; and, if necessary, lodge and clothe
them. He often forbade his household "to use the wool raised upon his
farm for home purposes, that it might be woven into blankets for the

Anxious as had been young Hale to join the army, he appears to have
deferred making any decided plans until he had received the necessary
permission from his father. Having received it, he at once took steps
for securing his dismissal from his school and his admission into the
army. During the weeks of waiting it had become known that he was
anxious to enlist, and a military appointment was waiting his
acceptance. To secure his dismissal, on July 7 he addressed the
following letter to the proprietors of his school,--a letter that for a
young man of twenty is as dignified as it is patriotic:

     GENTLEMEN: Having received information that a place is allotted me
     in the army, and being inclined, as I hope for good reasons, to
     accept it, I am constrained to ask as a favor that which scarce
     anything else would have induced me to, which is, to be excused
     from keeping your school any longer. For the purpose of conversing
     upon this and of procuring another master, some of your number
     think it best there should be a general meeting of the proprietors.
     The time talked of for holding it is six o'clock this afternoon, at
     the schoolhouse. The year for which I engaged will expire within a
     fortnight, so that my quitting a few days sooner, I hope, will
     subject you to no great inconvenience.

     School-keeping is a business of which I was always fond, but since
     my residence in this town, everything has conspired to render it
     more agreeable. I have thought much of never quitting it but with
     life, but at present there seems an opportunity for more extended
     public service.

     The kindness expressed to me by the people of the place, but
     especially the proprietors of the school, will always be very
     gratefully remembered by, gentlemen, with respect, your humble




The place "allotted" to him was that of lieutenant in the third company
of the 7th Connecticut regiment, commanded by Colonel Charles Webb. No
doubt exists that Lieutenant Nathan Hale was the same Nathan Hale who
had won distinction in all his college work, in his subsequent teaching,
and in all the events thus far associated with his early manhood, with
this difference; he was now lifted to a line of service that in his
opinion seemed the highest possible for him to follow, and no one who
studies his subsequent course can question that in this following he
found the loftiest consecration thus far possible to him. Perhaps
unconsciously he was to verify the poet's assertion,

  "So nigh is grandeur to our dust,
    So near is God to man,
  When Duty whispers low, _Thou must_,
    The youth replies, _I can._"

With no trace of merely personal ambition, but with that splendid power
of absorption in duty as in work, Nathan Hale followed in the steps of
those devoted American patriots whose blood, so freely shed at
Lexington, was calling upon their countrymen to shed theirs as freely,
should duty demand it.

Dead almost one hundred and forty years, we still are thrilled by proofs
of the splendid manhood henceforth to be so prominent in every remaining
day of Hale's brief life. A few letters to friends, a fairly
comprehensive diary for a few months, his camp-book, and the
recollections of a few of the officers and of his body-servant, give a
moderately complete picture of Nathan Hale for a few brief weeks, during
which time he had been doing all in his power to perfect himself and the
men under him in the duties of soldiers.

By the middle of September the Connecticut troops, having received
orders from General Washington to proceed to the camp near Boston, the
7th Regiment, containing Lieutenant Hale's company, went to the spot
appointed, remaining there during the winter, and leaving for New York,
again by Washington's orders, in the spring. Of these intervening
months, so momentous to the little army whose many members were
impatient for the close of the war, Nathan Hale himself gives us vivid
pictures; of the work he was trying to do; of the men he was meeting; of
the religious life he was in no sense forgetting, and of his own
deepening patriotism. Letters written to him show the attitude of
friends at home, and their interest both in the affairs of the country
and in him personally. The following letter from Gilbert Saltonstall, a
young Harvard graduate and warm friend of Hale while in New London,
shows how fully the men at home, as well as those in the army, entered
into the anxieties of the times:

     NEW LONDON, Octo. 9th, 1775.

     DEAR SIR:

     By yours of the 5th I see you're Stationd in the Mouth of Danger--I
     look upon yr. Situation more Perilous than any other in the
     Camp--Should have thought the new Recreuits would have been Posted
     at some of the Outworks, & those that have been inured to Service
     advanc'd to Defend the most exposed Places--But all Things are
     concerted, and ordered with Wisdom no doubt--The affair of Dr.
     Church[1] is truly amazing--from the acquaintance I have of his
     publick Character I should as soon have suspected Mr. Hancock or
     Adams as him.

[Footnote 1: Of this Dr. Church, John Fiske writes: "In October, 1775,
the American camp was thrown into great consternation by the discovery
that Dr. Benjamin Church, one of the most conspicuous of the Boston
leaders, had engaged in a secret correspondence with the enemy. Dr.
Church was thrown into jail, but as the evidence of treasonable intent
was not absolutely complete, he was set free in the following spring,
and allowed to visit the West Indies for his health. The ship in which
he sailed was never heard from again."]

(Then follow accounts of an affair on Long Island Sound, and extracts
from a paper two days old just brought from New York, describing army
matters in the North.)

     I have extracted all the material News--should have sent the Paper
     but its the only one in Town and every one is Gaping for news.

     Your sincere Friend

Another, also from Saltonstall, reads in part as follows:


     Doctor Church is in close Custody in Norwich Gaol, the windows
     boarded up, and he deny'd the use of Pen, Ink, and Paper, to have
     no converse with any Person but in presence of the Gaoler, and then
     to Converse in no Language but English. ... what a fall ...

     Yr &c

     Novr. 27th 1775

A letter already referred to as showing Hale's interest in New London
and its people, also his feeling as to camp life, is here given.
"Betsey" was one of his pupils in his early-morning classes. We note the
little touch of good-natured fun in the last paragraph.

     CAMP WINTER HILL, Octr 19th 1775


     I hope you will excuse my freedom in writing to you, as I cannot
     have the pleasure of seeing and conversing with you. What is now a
     letter would be a visit were I in New London but this being out of
     my power, suffer me to make up the defect in the best manner I can.
     I write not to give you any news or any pleasure in reading (though
     I would heartily do it if in my power) but from the desire I have
     of conversing with you in some form or other.

     I once wanted to come here to see something extraordinary--my
     curiosity is satisfied. I have now no more desire for seeing things
     here, than for seeing what is in New London, no, nor half so much
     neither. Not that I am discontented--so far from it, that in the
     present situation of things I would not except a furlough were it
     offered me. I would only observe that we often flatter ourselves
     with great happiness could we see such and such things; but when we
     actually come to the sight of them our solid satisfaction is really
     no more than when we only had them in expectation.

     All the news I had I wrote to John Hallam--if it be worth your
     hearing he will be able to tell you when he delivers this. It will
     therefore not (be) worth while for me to repeat.

     I am a little at a loss how you carry at New London--Jared Starr I
     hear is gone--The number of Gentlemen is now so few that I fear how
     you will go through the winter but I hope for the best.

     I remain with esteem
     Yr Sincere Friend
     & Hble Svt.
     N. HALE

     At New London

The next letter refers to the time when, on account of their personal
privations, the Connecticut troops were thinking seriously of
withdrawing from the struggle, and returning to their homes:

     DEAR SIR NEW LONDON Decr-4th 1775

     The behaviour of our Connecticut Troops makes me Heart-sick--that
     they who have stood foremost in the praises and good Wishes of
     their Countrymen, as having distinguished themselves for their Zeal
     & Public Spirit, should now shamefully desert the Cause; and at a
     critical moment too, is really unaccountable--amazing. Those that
     do return will meet with real Contempt, with deserv'd Reproach. It
     gives great satisfaction that the Officers universally agree to
     tarry--that is the Report, is it true or not?--May that God who has
     signally appear'd for us since the Commencement of our troubles,
     interpose, that no fatal or bad consequence may attend a dastardly
     Desertion of his Cause.

     I want much to have a more minute Acct. of the situation of the
     Camp than I have been able to obtain. I rely wholly on you for


To explain some of Saltonstal's references to the feelings of some of
the Connecticut troops, we quote from Captain Hale's diary of October

     "10 o'clock went to Cambridge with Field commission officers to
     General Putman to let him know the state of the Regiment and that
     it was through ill usage upon the Score of Provisions that they
     would not extend their term of service to the 1st of January 1776."

Other letters to Hale from New London friends, among them one from an
officer absent on furlough, speak freely of the anxieties of those
watching the progress of the reënlistments, and the home reception that
would be given to any leaving the army.

Another letter from Saltonstall reads as follows:

     NEW LONDON Decr. 18th 1775

     DR. SIR....

     I wholly agree with you in ye. agreables of a Camp Life, and
     should have try'd it in some Capacity or other before now, could my
     Father carry on his Business without me. I proposed going with
     Dudley, who is appointed to Commn. a Twenty-Gun Ship in the
     Continental Navy, but my Father is not willing, and I can't
     persuade myself to leave him in the eve of Life against his

     Yesterday week the Town was in the greatest confusion imaginable;
     Women wringing their Hands along Street, Children crying, Carts
     loaded 'till nothing more would stick on, posting out of Town,
     empty ones driving in, one Person running this way, another that,
     some dull, some vex'd, more pleased, some flinging up an
     Intrenchment, some at the Fort preparing ye Guns for Action, Drums
     beating, Fifes playing; in short as great a Hubbub as at the
     confusion of Tongues; all of this occasioned by the appearance of a
     Ship and two Sloops off the Harbour, Suppos'd to be part of
     Wallace's Fleet,--When they were found to be Friends, Vessels from
     New Port with Passengers ye consternation abated....

A postscript runs as follows:

     The young girls, B. Coit, S. and P. Belden [Hale's pupils] have
     frequently desired their Compliments to Master, but I've never
     thought of mentioning it till now. You must write something in your
     next by way of P.S. that I may shew it them.

Favored by copies of these letters by Saltonstall, one must regret all
the more that so few of Hale's own letters have been discovered, ten
being the limit. Within a comparatively short period, however, some
sixty more records--mostly letters written to Hale--have come to light,
preserved, as it is now seen, by the same "orderly care" that marked his
interest in all the correspondence of his friends.

In them are expressed, in letter after letter, the affectionate interest
and warm admiration of the writers. It is now said that Hale kept these
letters with him down to the date of his tragic mission. We can easily
imagine the glow of satisfaction that must have filled his brotherly
soul in the few spare moments he could devote to these letters.

Brief extracts are made from his diary, fortunately preserved for
evidence as to his work and growing interest in the duties he had
entered upon. The diary was found in the camp-book brought to his
family by Asher Wright, Hale's attendant in camp before he left New

In the diary, under date of November 19, 1775, this entry is made:

     " ... Robert Latimer the Majrs Son went to Roxbury to day on his
     way home. The Majr who went there to day and ... return'd this
     eveng bt acts that the _Asia_ Man of War Station'd at N. York
     was taken by a Schooner arm'd with Spear's &c.... This account not

A month after the return from camp mentioned above, Robert Latimer wrote
to Captain Hale, his former teacher, the following interesting and
diverting letter:

     DR SIR,

     As I think myself under the greatest obligations to you for your
     care and kindness to me, I should think myself very ungrateful if I
     neglected any oppertunity of expressing my gratitude to you for the
     same. And I rely on that goodness, I have so often experienc'd to
     overlook the deficiencies in my Letter, which I am sensible will be
     many as maturity of Judgment is wanting, and tho' I have been so
     happy as to be favour'd with your instructions, you can't Sir,
     expect a finish'd letter from one who has as yet practis'd but very
     little this way, especially with persons of your nice discernment.

     Sir, I have had the pleasure of hearing by the soldiers, which is
     come home, that you are in health, tho' likely to be deserted by
     all the men you carried down with you, which I am very sorry for,
     as I think no man of any spirit would desert a cause in which, we
     are all so deeply interested. I am sure was my Mammy willing I
     think I should prefer being with you, to all the pleasures which
     the company of my Relations Can afford me.

     I am Sir with respect yr Sincere friend
     & very H'ble St

     Decbr 20th 1775--

     P. S. My Mammy and aunt Lamb presents Complimts. My Mammy would
     have wrote, but being very busy, tho't my writing would be
     sufficient--my respects to Capt Hull. Addressed to Capt. Hale.

Here is a second letter from the same ardent friend of Captain Hale. His
admiration for his former teacher is evident in every line.

     NEW LONDON, March 5th 1776

     DEAR SIR,

     as my letter meet with such kind reception from you, I still
     continue writing & hope that the desire I have of improving, added
     to the pleasure, I take in hearing often from so good a friend,
     will sufficiently excuse me for writing so often--I Recd your kind
     letter Sr pr the post & cant deny but your approbation, of my
     writing, gives me the greatest pleasure, & should be afraid of its
     raisg my pride; did I not consider that your intention in praising
     my poor performance, must be with a design, of raising in me an
     ambition, to endeavour to deserve your praise--& I hope that
     instructions convey'd in such an agreeable manner, will not, be
     thrown away upon me--You write Sr that you have got another Fifer,
     & a very good one too, as I hear. Which I am very Glad to hear,
     tho' I sincerely wish I was in his Place--

     Have not any News.

     So will Conclude--I am Sr
     with Respect Yr friend & S't,


     P. S. My Mammy & Aunt
     Present Compts &c--

     CAPT. HALE.

Only one thought dims the pleasure with which we read these two
letters,--the consciousness of the depth of distress that must have
filled that loyal boy's heart to overflowing when he learned of the
tragic death of his hero friend.

Two notable records from Captain Hale's diary are these:

     November 6. It is of the utmost importance that an officer should
     be anxious to know his duty, but of greater that he should
     carefully perform what he does know. The present irregular state of
     the army is owing to a capital neglect in both of these.

     November 7. Studied ye best method of forming a Reg't for a review,
     of arraying the Companies, also of marching round ye reviewing
     Officer. A man ought never to lose a moment's time. If he put off a
     thing from one minute to the next, his reluctance is but increased.

Later in November, when the men in his company were unwilling to
reënlist, this notable entry was made, signed with his full name:

     28, Tuesday. Promised the men if they would tarry another month,
     they should have my wages for that time.


These brief quotations, proving as they do Hale's intense devotion to
duty, and his practical efforts to hold his men to their duty, show how
clearly he understood the tremendous responsibility resting upon the
commander-in-chief as given in Washington's own words in letters to
friends and to Congress, soon to be quoted; and that, known or unknown
to Washington, there were men among his officers fully aware of the
condition of the army, and as anxious to serve it as was their
magnificent leader.

We here quote from Washington's letters; the first one was written to a

     I know the unhappy predicament in which I stand; I know that much
     is expected of me; I know that without men, without arms, without
     ammunition, without anything fit for the accommodation of a
     soldier, little is to be done, and what is mortifying, I know that
     I cannot stand justified to the world without exposing my own
     weakness, and injuring the cause, by declaring my wants which I am
     determined not to do farther than unavoidable necessity brings
     every man acquainted with them. My situation is so irksome to me at
     times, that if I did not consult the public good more than my own
     tranquillity, I should long ere this have put everything on the
     cast of a die. So far from my having an army of twenty thousand
     men, well armed, I have been here with less than half that number,
     including sick, furloughed, and on command; and those neither armed
     nor clothed as they should be. In short, my situation has been
     such, that I have been obliged to conceal it from my own officers.

The second letter was written to Congress:

     To make men well acquainted with the duties of a soldier, requires
     time. To bring them under proper discipline and subordination, not
     only requires time, but is a work of great difficulty; and in this
     army where there is so little distinction between officers and
     soldiers, requires an uncommon degree of attention. To expect,
     then, the same service from raw and undisciplined recruits, as from
     veteran soldiers, is to expect what never did, and perhaps never
     will happen.

On the 23d of December, 1775, Hale began his first and only trip to
Connecticut for the sake of securing additional enlistments. If on this
one visit home he became engaged--as some have believed--to the woman he
had so long loved, now a widow of about nineteen, Alice Adams Ripley, we
may infer that love brightened his embassy even though patriotism
inspired it. No record remains of the glorified hours he may have spent
in Coventry. We have good reason to believe that, if he survived the
war, he expected to marry the woman he had so faithfully loved. After a
few brief days in his home, he left it, never to return, speeding on his
way to serve his country's needs.

If this new zest entered his life at this time, we can easily imagine as
he fared on, striving to arouse his countrymen to their duty as
patriots, that the happiest hours of his life were urging him forward to
the most perfect service he could render in the present, and to
unlimited hopes and ambitions for the future he might well expect was
awaiting him. Crowned by human love, and with unlimited opportunities to
serve his country, who can tell by what "vision splendid" he was "on his
way attended"? Who can help rejoicing that such days, brief as they
were, and uplifting as they must have been, were given to this man, now
past twenty?

Details concerning that trip are scanty. We know for a certainty that,
starting from camp December 23, 1775, he returned to it the last week in
January, 1776, having been in New London and other places seeking
recruits, and going back with the recruits he himself had secured,
joined by others coming from the various towns in Connecticut, and all
heading toward the camp around Boston.

He received his commission as captain in the new army in January, being
still in Colonel Webb's regiment, which now became the Nineteenth of the
Continental Army. For a few weeks he followed the routine of his earlier
months there, doing all that was possible to assist his brother officers
in perfecting the discipline of the raw troops, deepening their
patriotism, and proving himself a soldier as devoid of fear as he was
rich in all manly qualities. Not a word of regret can be found in his
diary. Acknowledging in a letter to a former pupil, Miss Betsey
Christophers of New London, that the novelty and glamour of camp life
had worn off, he asserts, with intense ardor, that nothing would tempt
him to "accept a furlough" or shrink in any manner from any of his
duties as a soldier. And so the weeks passed on.

During the winter heavy cannon from Fort Ticonderoga had been brought
through the snows over the Green Mountains. The cannon were placed on
Dorchester Heights which commanded the British camp, thus compelling the
British general to choose between attacking the American army and
evacuating the city. In a letter written in April, 1776, to his
half-brother, John Augustine, Washington wrote thus regarding this time:

     The enemy ... apprehending great annoyance from our new works,
     resolved upon a retreat, and accordingly, on the 17th (March)
     embarked in as much hurry, precipitation and confusion as ever
     troops did ... leaving the King's property in Boston to the amount,
     as is supposed, of thirty or forty thousand pounds in provisions
     and stores.

Washington's victory in this maneuver, his first great success,
tremendously cheered the hearts of all patriotic Americans. Congress
gave him a vote of thanks, also a gold medal--"the first in the history
of independent America"--in commemoration of the event. Here again we
catch a glimpse of the delight that must have thrilled the hearts of all
his officers, not least among them that of Nathan Hale. But Washington,
proving himself in these earlier events, as he was to, year after year,
through successive discouragements, "the first in war," turned toward
New York as his next base.



In the letter just quoted, Washington wrote further:

     "Whither they [the enemy] are now bound,... I know not, but as New
     York and Hudson's River are the most important objects they can
     have in view ... therefore as soon as they embarked, I detached a
     brigade of six regiments to that government and when they sailed
     another brigade composed of the same number, and tomorrow another
     brigade of five regiments will march. In a day or two more, I shall
     follow myself, and be in New York ready to receive all but the

Uncertain as to his power to hold New York, Washington promptly took the
next step that appeared open to him, carrying in his heart a heavy
weight of care, and realizing, as perhaps no other man did, that only
divine assistance could give him final success. He was bent upon a
desperate mission, but to it, with sublime patience, he gave every
energy of his masterly mind, and the entire consecration of all that he

Well was it for him that the power which controls nations was quietly
working with him. Well, also, that in his army were men ready for any
enterprise of danger, for any sacrifice that duty might demand.

Washington proceeded to New York, to ultimate victory, to final and
permanent fame. Nathan Hale went also, simply as a captain of a
Connecticut company,--he not to victory, not to immediate fame, but to
something higher in one sense than either victory or fame, and to a
service well worth a man's doing.

Nathan Hale belonged to the first brigade dispatched to New York--that
of General Heath. After rapid marching, considering the state of the
roads, "Hale found himself" (March 26th) "for the third time" among his
New London friends. The next day they "embarked in high spirits on
fifteen transports and sailed for New York." On March 30th the troops
"disembarked at Turtle Bay, a convenient landing place" near what is now
East 45th Street. Not far from that spot, within six months, Nathan Hale
was to win a victory that time can never dim, even if, for a time, it
appeared to have covered his memory with a pall. But in that landing-day
no shadows were apparent,--only hope, and the zest inevitable in a
soldier's life.

A minor honor was soon to come to Nathan Hale. Late in 1775 Enoch Hale
was licensed to preach. In the summer of 1776 he attended Commencement
at New Haven, from July 23 to 26. He makes note in his diary of friends
and classmates whom he saw; also that he obtained the degree of Master
of Arts for Nathan and himself. Of the latter his record is, "Write to
brother to tell him I have got him his degree."

One or two more letters of Hale are extant from which only partial
extracts have been made. One that was written on the 3d of June, 1776,
we give with more fullness, omitting only some unimportant clauses. This
letter has especial value as an illustration of the fact that most of us
now and then have received letters that seemed casual in themselves, but
have, to our surprise and often to our deep sadness, proved to be
farewell letters.

It is not probable that, in the hurried days that followed, further
messages were sent to his grandmother, to his former pastor and
beloved teacher, Mr. Huntington, and to his sister Rose and her family.
In the late autumn of 1776, after they had learned his fate, and in the
years that followed, one can easily imagine how precious seemed these
appreciative words, embalming as it were the abiding affection of the
man who wrote them. Hale's reference to "the Doctor" also recalls the
fact that, from the immediate family of Deacon Richard Hale, five
men--three sons, one stepson, and one son-in-law (Surgeon Rose)--entered
the Revolutionary Army; one son dying in 1776, one son in 1784, his
health having been ruined while in the service, and one son in 1802, his
life perhaps shortened by his exposures. Whatever else may have been
lacking in that one family, patriotism certainly was not deficient,--the
patriotism that does not count the cost to one's self, but the gain to
one's country.

The following is the letter referred to, written to his brother Enoch:

     NEW YORK June 3d 1776

     Your Favour of the 9th of May and another written at Norwich I have
     received--the first mentioned one the 19th of May ult.

     You complain of my neglecting you--It is not, I acknowledge, wholly
     without reason--at the same time I am conscious to have written to
     you more than once or twice within this half year. Perhaps my
     letters have miscarried.

     Continuance or removal here depends wholly upon the operations of
     the war.

     It gives pleasure to every friend of his country to observe the
     health which prevails in our army. Dr. Eli (Surgeon of our Regt.)
     told me a few days since, there was not a man in our Regt. but
     might upon occasion go out with his Firelock. Much the same is said
     of other Regiments.

     The army is improving in discipline, and it is hoped will soon be
     able to meet the enemy at any kind of play. My company which at
     first was small, is now increased to eighty and there is a sergeant
     recruiting who, I hope, has got the other ten which completes the
     company. We are hardly able to judge as to the numbers the British
     army for the Summer is to consist of--undoubtedly sufficient to
     cause us too much bloodshed.

     I had written you a complete letter in answer to your last, but
     missed the opportunity of sending it.

     This will find you in Coventry--if so remember me to all my
     friends--particularly belonging to the Family. Forget not
     frequently to visit and strongly to represent my duty to our good
     Grandmother Strong. Has she not repeatedly favored us with her
     tender, most important advice? The natural Tie is sufficient, but
     increased by so much goodness, our gratitude cannot be too

     I always with respect remember Mr. Huntington and shall write to
     him if time admits. Pay Mr. Wright a visit for me. Tell him Asher
     is well--he has for some time lived with me as a waiter.... Asher
     this moment told me that our brother Joseph Adams was here
     yesterday to see me, when I happened to be out of the way. He is in
     Col. Parson's Regt. I intend to see him to-day and if possible by
     exchanging get him into my company.

     Yours affectionately.
     N. HALE.

     P. S. Sister Rose talked of making me some Linen cloth similar to
     Brown Holland for Summer wear. If she has made it, desire her to
     keep it for me. My love to her, the Doctor, and little Joseph.

As Washington had supposed probable, the English decided upon the
occupation of New York. In July and August the largest army ever
collected in one body upon the American continent prior to 1861, an
English army numbering nearly thirty-two thousand men, with a formidable
fleet and large munitions of war, gathered at Staten Island. Washington,
in the meantime, was occupying a portion of Brooklyn and a portion of
the city of New York, fortifying each place and preparing to defend it
to the extent of his ability with his small army, never so well fed nor
so thoroughly disciplined as that of the British.

Human wisdom would have assumed that the British army would soon succeed
in restoring English control; but the best-laid plans miscarry, and a
power interposes that helps the weaker and hinders the stronger army.

The English did their best to be ready for the coming conflict, and we
know that Washington spared no pains in preparing for the worst that
might come.

On August 20, Nathan Hale wrote the following letter to his brother
Enoch--the last letter that he ever wrote, so far as we know, to reach
its destination. It shows that his heart was absorbed in the duties of
the conflict he was sharing, and it also shows how wholly he was
leaving the ultimate issue to a higher power.

     NEW YORK, August 20, 1776.


     I have only time for a hasty letter. Our situation this fortnight
     or more has been such as scarce to admit of writing. We have daily
     expected an action--by which means, if any one was going and we had
     letters written, orders were so strict for our tarrying in camp
     that we could rarely get leave to go and deliver them. For about 6
     or 8 days the enemy have been expected hourly, whenever the wind
     and tide in the least favored. We keep a particular lookout for
     them this morning. The place and manner of our attack time must
     determine. The event we leave to Heaven. Thanks to God! We have had
     time for completing our works and receiving our reinforcements. The
     Militia of Connecticut ordered this way are mostly arrived. Col.
     Ward's Regiment has got in. Troops from the southward are daily
     coming. We hope under God to give account of the enemy whenever
     they choose to make the last appeal.

     Last Friday night, two of our fire vessels (a Sloop and Schooner)
     made an attempt upon the shipping up the river. The night was too
     dark, the wind too slack for the attempt. The Schooner which was
     intended for one of the Ships had got by before she discovered
     them; but as Providence would have it, she run athwart a
     bomb-catch, which she quickly burned. The Sloop by the light of the
     former discovered the _Ph[oe]nix_--but rather too late--however she
     made shift to grapple her, but the wind not proving sufficient to
     bring her close alongside, or drive the flames immediately on
     board, the _Ph[oe]nix_ after much difficulty got her clear by
     cutting her own rigging. Sergt. Fosdick, who commanded the above
     sloop, and four of his hands were of my company, the remaining two
     were of this Regt. The Genl. has been pleased to reward their
     bravery with forty Dollars each, except the last man that quitted
     the fire-sloop who had fifty. Those on board the Schooner received
     the same.

     I must write to some of my other brothers lest you should not be at
     home. Remain

     Your friend &c


Aside from this letter, the following brief quotations from his diary
are all that remain to us in the handwriting of Nathan Hale. Till he
lays down his pen for the last time we see him absorbed in the cares and
duties of the life about him, fearlessly facing whatever remains to him
of life and service.

     Aug. 21st. Heavy storm at Night. Much and heavy Thunder. Capt. Van
     Wyke, and a Lieut, and Ens. of Colo. McDougall's Regt. killed by a
     Shock. Likewise one man in town, belonging to a Militia Regt. of
     Connecticut. The Storm continued for two or three hours, for the
     greatest part of which time [there] was a perpetual Lightning, and
     the sharpest I ever knew.

     22d. Thursday. The enemy landed some troops down at the Narrows on
     Long Island.

     23d. Friday. Enemy landed more troops--News that they had marched
     up and taken Station near Flatbush, their advce Gds [advance
     guards] being on this side near the Woods--that some of our
     Rifle-men attacked and drove them back from their post, burnt 2
     stacks of hay, and it was thought killed some of them--this about
     12 O'clock at Night. Our troops attacked them at their station near
     Flatb. [Flatbush], routed and drove them back 1-1/2 mile.

One of the facts most perplexing to General Washington was what appeared
to be Sir William Howe's delay in making an attack. Indeed, to an
outsider unfamiliar with military tactics, Howe's conduct resembles the
cruel pleasure a cat sometimes takes in tormenting a mouse that it knows
cannot escape. The uncertainty as to what the next British move might be
caused much anxiety. Remembering that Howe's force had arrived the last
of June, one sees how leisurely must have been his preparations for
attack, and how assured his hope of victory.

The expected attack occurred on August 27. The Americans were defeated
and driven within their works, their losses being great, especially in
prisoners. The Nineteenth Regiment was held in reserve, but Captain Hull
wrote that they were near enough to witness the carnage among their

The night after the battle the enemy encamped within a few hundred yards
of the defeated Americans. On the 29th Washington decided upon a retreat
to New York, and it was effected that night. If the English had
suspected that the Americans were withdrawing their forces from
Brooklyn, it is easy to imagine the carnage that would have ensued. So
great was Washington's anxiety at this time that he is said not to have
slept during forty-eight hours, and rarely to have dismounted from his

One account of the retreat is as follows: "A disadvantageous wind and
rain at first prevented the troops from embarking, and it was feared
that the retreat could not be effected that night. But about eleven
o'clock a favorable breeze sprung up, the tide turned in the right
direction, and about two o'clock in the morning, a thick fog arose which
hung over Long Island, while on the New York side it was clear. During
the night, the whole American army, nine thousand in number, Washington
embarking last of all, with all the artillery, such heavy ordnance as
was of any value, ammunition, provision, cattle, horses, carts, and
everything of importance, passed safely over.

"All this was effected without the knowledge of the British, although
the enemy were so nigh that they were heard at work with their pickaxes
and shovels. In half an hour after the lines were finally abandoned, the
fog cleared off and the enemy were seen taking possession of the
American works. One boat on the river, ... within reach of the enemy's
fire, was obliged to return; she had only three men in her, who had
loitered behind to plunder."

That opportune appearance of the fog must have seemed, to more than one
devout heart, as helpful as some of the remarkable interpositions of
Providence described in the old Biblical stories.

Hale's company, with its many seamen, rendered effective service in this
passage from Long Island. Every student of history, and especially of
military history, can recall certain decisive hours in momentous battles
when some utterly unforeseen event has entirely changed the face of
affairs, and given the victory into unexpected hands; thus, a mistake in
the understanding of a phrase used by his captors made André a prisoner,
and saved the capture of West Point by the English; while Waterloo,
Gettysburg, and many another decisive battle has hinged on seeming
chance,--chance truly, if there is no power working for righteousness
among the affairs of nations.

The position of the American army, however, now appeared more perilous
than ever. Two war vessels had moved up the East River and were followed
by others. Active movements among the British troops were reported by
all the scouts, but the enemy's designs could not be penetrated.



Writing of these events afterward, Captain Hull said, "It was evident
that the superior force of the British would soon give them possession
of New York. The Commander-in-chief, therefore, took a position at Fort
Washington at the other end of the island. To ascertain the further
object of the enemy was now a subject of anxious inquiry with General

In a letter to General Heath at this crisis Washington wrote as follows:
"As everything in a manner depends upon obtaining intelligence of the
enemy's motions, I do most earnestly entreat you and General Clinton to
exert yourselves to accomplish this most desirable end. Leave no stone
unturned, nor do not stick at expense, to bring this to pass, as I never
was more uneasy than on account of my want of knowledge on this score."

Johnston, in his valuable "Life of Nathan Hale," says: "If he
[Washington] had been anxious to fathom Howe's plans before the latter
began the campaign from Staten Island, he was infinitely more so now.
It was not enough to keep a ceaseless watch across the East river....
Like every other commander in history, all through the contest he came
to depend much on intelligence gained through the 'secret service.'"

Stuart, the earliest reliable biographer of Hale, in writing of spies
says: "The exigency of the American army which we have just described,
would not permit the employment, in the service proposed, of any
ordinary soldier, unpracticed in military observation and without skill
as a draughtsman,--least of all of the common mercenary, to whom,
allured by the hope of a large reward, such tasks are usually assigned.
Accurate estimates of the numbers of the enemy, of their distribution,
of the form and position of their various encampments, of their
marchings and countermarchings, of the concentration at one point or
another, of the instruments of war, but more than all of their plan of
attack, as derived from the open report or the unguarded whispers in
camp of officers or men,--estimates of all these things, requiring a
quick eye, a cool head, a practical pencil, military science, general
intelligence, and pliable address, were to be made. The common soldier
would not answer the purpose, and the mercenary might yield to the
higher seductions of the enemy, and betray his employers."

During the war with the French and Indians, American officers had
learned the need of trained men who could keep the commanders informed
both of the movements and of the plans of the opposing forces.
Washington had learned this unforgetable lesson in Braddock's campaign,
and, as full commander and wholly responsible not only for the immediate
safety but for the future success of his little army, he realized the
necessity of obtaining the most accurate information possible.

A corps collected from the best men in the army was organized, and its
command was given to Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Knowlton. He had gained
experience as a ranger in the French and Indian War, and was noted for
his coolness, skill, and bravery at Bunker Hill. One hundred and fifty
men and twenty officers were considered sufficient for the work assigned
to this special corps, known as Knowlton's Rangers. They were divided
into four companies. Two of the captains of these men were chosen from
Knowlton's own regiment; the other two--one of them Nathan Hale--were
from other companies. There can be little doubt that Nathan Hale was
proud of his enrollment in this brave corps.

After Hale's services were ended, one brief record remained of "moneys
due to the Company of Rangers commanded late by Captain Hale." After the
1st of September, about which time this company of Rangers was
organized, it was constantly on duty wherever its services were
required, and one can easily imagine Nathan Hale's enthusiasm in his
enlarged duties.

Knowlton spoke to some of his officers of the wishes of the commanding
general for some one to enter upon this special secret service,--wishes
that so appealed to Hale that he at once seriously considered offering
himself for the hazardous undertaking.

Captain Hull, two years his senior in age, and one year in advance of
him in Yale, a close friend while in college and during their subsequent
days, shall describe the personal interview between himself and Captain
Hale in regard to this matter. It is said that many remonstrated with
Hale at his decision, but Hull's statement shows the arguments of a
practical man against which Hale had to contend.

In his memoirs Captain Hull writes thus of his last interview with
Captain Hale:

"After his interview with Col. Knowlton, he repaired to my quarters and
informed me of what had passed. He remarked 'I think I owe to my
country the accomplishment of an object so important, and so much
desired by the commander of her armies--and I know of no other mode of
obtaining the information than by assuming a disguise and passing into
the enemy's camp.'

"He asked my candid opinion. I replied that it was an act which involved
serious consequences, and the propriety of it was doubtful; and though
he viewed the business of a spy as a duty, yet he could not officially
be required to perform it; that such a service was not claimed of the
meanest soldier, though many might be willing, for a pecuniary
compensation, to engage in it; and as for himself, the employment was
not in keeping with his character. His nature was too frank and open for
deceit and disguise, and he was incapable of acting a part equally
foreign to his feelings and habits. Admitting that he was successful,
who would wish success at such a price? Did his country demand the moral
degradation of her sons, to advance her interests?

"Stratagems are resorted to in war; they are feints and evasions,
performed under no disguise; are familiar to commanders; form a part of
their plans, and, considered in a military view, lawful and
advantageous. The tact with which they are executed exacts admiration
from the enemy. But who respects the character of a spy, assuming the
garb of friendship but to betray? The very death assigned him is
expressive of the estimation in which he is held. As soldiers, let us do
our duty in the field; contend for our legitimate rights, and not stain
our honor by the sacrifice of integrity. And when present events, with
all their deep and exciting interests, shall have passed away, may the
blush of shame never arise, by the remembrance of an unworthy though
successful act, in the performance of which we were deceived by the
belief that it was sanctioned by its object. I ended by saying that,
should he undertake the enterprise, his short, bright career would close
with an ignominious death.

"He replied, 'I am fully sensible of the consequences of discovery and
capture in such a situation. But for a year I have been attached to the
army, and have not rendered any material service, while receiving a
compensation for which I make no return. Yet,' he continued, 'I am not
influenced by the expectation of promotion or pecuniary reward. I wish
to be useful, and every kind of service necessary for the public good,
becomes honorable by being necessary. If the exigencies of my country
demand a peculiar service, its claims to perform that service are

"He spoke with warmth and decision. I replied, 'That such are your
wishes cannot be doubted. But is this the most effectual mode of
carrying them into execution? In the progress of the war there will be
ample opportunity to give your talents and your life, should it be so
ordered, to the sacred cause to which we are pledged. You can bestow
upon your country the richest benefits, and win for yourself the highest
honours. Your exertions for her interests will be daily felt, while, by
one fatal act, you crush forever the power and opportunity Heaven offers
for her glory and your happiness.'

"I urged him for the love of country, for the love of kindred, to
abandon an enterprise which would only end in the sacrifice of the
dearest interests of both. He paused--then affectionately taking my
hand, he said, 'I will reflect, and do nothing but what duty demands.'
He was absent from the army, and I feared he had gone to the British
lines to execute his fatal purpose."

Just how soon after this conversation Captain Hale left camp on his
perilous mission, cannot now be determined. We only know that it must
have been early in September, during the first week or ten days. He
proceeded with Sergeant Hempstead by the safest route, and reached
Norwalk before finding a place to cross Long Island Sound.

Sergeant Hempstead alone has furnished the few details of Captain Hale's
final preparations. He had decided to assume civilian's dress, probably
that of an educated man seeking employment as tutor among the Americans
still living in New York. Hempstead says he was dressed in a brown suit
of citizen's clothes, with a round, broad-brimmed hat. On parting he
gave Hempstead his private papers and letters, and his silver
shoebuckles, to take care of for him.

It is, we think, not an undue inference that the letters and private
papers he left in Hempstead's care were all to be sent to his family.
These doubtless included personal letters to them, for no man such as we
know Nathan Hale to have been would have faced a journey from which he
might never return without some words of explanation, and possible
farewell, to those he loved at home. There is one fact that all who
believe in the sanctity of personal confidences and possible farewells
will be glad to remember,--that not one private word from Nathan Hale to
Alice Adams Ripley, or from her to him, has ever been exploited to
satisfy the curiosity of those who have no right to share it.

Hempstead left Captain Hale, who, now fully committed to his hazardous
quest, set forth on the armed sloop _Schuyler_ with Captain Pond--one of
the captains in the 19th Regiment--in command, across the Sound to Long
Island. When he landed Captain Hale said farewell to the last American
friend he was to be with, so far as we have any record.

Assuming that he reached this point on or near the 15th of September,
one or two other facts suggest themselves. It is known that the
Declaration of Independence had been carried to the American camp as
early as possible after its announcement in July, had been read to the
troops assembled for that purpose, and had been received with unbounded
enthusiasm. It is probable that both Colonel Knowlton, later in command
of the Rangers, and Captain Hale, one of its officers, were present at
that reading and joined in the huzzas. Singularly enough, neither one of
these two men was a citizen of the United States for three months.

Two months later Colonel Knowlton fell in the battle of Harlem Heights,
on September 16th, six days before Nathan Hale's execution. Knowlton's
last words are said to have been, "I do not care for my life, if we do
but win the day."

From the moment of his leaving New York, the mind of such a man as
Nathan Hale must have had solemn foreshadowings of the possible result,
of the tremendous risk he was facing. Men do not grow old by the passing
of years so much as by the endurance of great experiences, and in the
few brief days that were left to Nathan Hale we know really nothing of
his whereabouts, of what risks he ran, of how often he barely escaped
recognition as a spy, where he slept, of any possible friends whom he
may have encountered, or of any moment when his very life seemed to hang
on the accidental glance of an enemy's eye.

Finally dawned the 21st of September. Hale had fully accomplished his

There are conflicting accounts as to what occurred on the last evening
of Nathan Hale's life, some going into minute details of occurrences
that were assumed to have taken place. One with considerable
plausibility says that, as the time had elapsed which he had expected to
spend among the British (at the end of which time a boat was to be sent
across the Sound for him), Hale, having finished his quest, had entered
a tavern kept by a certain widow Chichester. She was a stanch friend of
the Tories, and her house was the constant resort of Tories and British
men and officers. While Hale was sitting in the tavern, apparently at
his ease among the men there assembled, some one passed him whose face
he thought familiar,--a man who glanced at him sharply and then passed
from the room. Later it was said to have been his own cousin who
betrayed him. Fortunately, there is not a word of truth in the

Although Deacon Hale writes that his son was undoubtedly betrayed by
some one, it appears to have been effectually disproved that he was
betrayed by a relative--a cousin who, it is stated, had never seen him,
and therefore could not have recognized him. A much more probable rumor
is that he was recognized by a loyalist woman who might easily have seen
him before the American army retreated farther north on the island, and
been impressed by his personal appearance and by his prowess in kicking
the football over the trees in the Bowery. This feat Hale is said to
have performed.

The report goes on to say that a man suddenly entered saying that a boat
was approaching, and that Hale, supposing this boat to have been sent
for him, at once left the room and went to the shore. If there is any
truth in this narrative, it is very possible that here Hale committed
his one indiscretion. In his joy at seeing the friends who had been sent
for him, he may have uttered words of such joyous welcome that the
officer who heard them must have known that this was some one expecting
a boat, and presumably a boat from the opposite shore. At all events, it
is stated that Hale, seeing his mistake when several marines presented
their guns, turned to fly, stopping only when told by the officer to
stand or be shot. These events are said to have taken place at
Huntington, Long Island, about forty miles from New York.

But more than a century after Hale's death a British Orderly Book was
found, containing the statement, dated September 22d, 1776, that

[Illustration: See footnote [2]]

[Footnote 2: A spy fm the Enemy (by his own full Confession) Apprehended
Last night, was this day Executed at 11 o'clock in front of the Artilery

From an Orderly Book of the British Guard. Reproduced from the original
in possession of the New York Historical Society.]

This, with other knowledge obtained about the position of the ship by
whose crew he was said to have been taken, gives reason for believing
that the arrest was not made at Huntington by the crew of that ship,
but in the city of New York. The order proves also that, once
apprehended, he made not the slightest attempt at concealment, nor any
effort to escape his doom. The information gained by Hale's brother
Enoch in New York supports this belief as to his capture.

All that we actually know is, that he was captured while attempting to
make his way back to his friends, and that this must have been the
sharpest moment in his experience. Before it, he had hopes of escape;
after his capture he knew that his doom was certain, and his splendid
soul adapted itself quietly and bravely to the inevitable.

That fatal night--the night of the 21st of September--was in many
respects the most terrible that New York has ever passed through. A fire
had broken out near the docks at two in the morning, and was spreading
with fearful rapidity toward the upper part of the city, the blaze
carried northward by a strong breeze. It looked at one time as if
nothing could stop the conflagration, and that the whole city would be

For a time the enemy believed that the Americans had deliberately set
fire to their own city in order to expel the hated British. Later this
was found to be untrue, as the fire proved to have started in a low
drinking house where several coarse fellows were carousing. The fire
swept on, destroying more than five hundred houses, one fifth of all the
buildings then in the city, and was stopped only near Barclay Street by
a sudden sharp change in the wind, which blew the fire southward toward
the already burning district.

Report says that the provost marshal was given authority by Howe to
dispose summarily, without the delay of a trial, of any Americans found
rushing about the burning buildings, assuming, of course, that they were
intent on the destruction of more buildings, rather than on the natural
desire of saving what they could of their own property; and that as a
result of this authority, more than one hapless householder was thrown
into his own burning home.

Up to this point, the early or late evening of the 21st, there is more
or less of unsolvable mystery in regard to Nathan Hale's movements; but
from the memoirs of Captain William Hull, Nathan Hale's college friend
and companion in arms, we have what appears to be unimpeachable evidence
as to Hale's arrest and being brought to General Howe's headquarters. We
quote from Captain Hull the information he received from an English
officer through a flag of truce:

"I learned the melancholy particulars from this officer, who was present
at Hale's execution and seemed touched by the circumstances attending
it. He said that Captain Hale had passed through their army, both of
Long Island and [New] York Island. That he had procured sketches of the
fortifications, and made memoranda of their number and different
positions. When apprehended, he was taken before Sir William Howe, and
these papers, found concealed about his person, betrayed his intentions.
He at once declared his name, his rank in the American army, and his
object in coming within the British lines.

"Sir William Howe, without the form of a trial, gave orders for his
execution the following morning. He was placed in the custody of the
provost marshal. Captain Hale asked for a clergyman to attend him. His
request was refused. He then asked for a Bible; that too was refused.

"'On the morning of his execution,' continued the officer, 'my station
was near the fatal spot, and I requested the provost marshal to permit
the prisoner to sit in my marquee while he was making the necessary
preparations. Captain Hale entered; he was calm, and bore himself with
gentle dignity. He asked for writing materials, which I furnished him;
he wrote two letters, one to his mother and one to a brother officer.
He was shortly summoned to the gallows. But a few persons were around

He was condemned to die in the early morning of the 22d, but in the
confusion prevailing throughout the city on account of the spreading
fire, at one time threatening the whole town, Provost Marshal Cunningham
must have been that morning very fully occupied, and it was late in the
forenoon before he completed his preparations for Hale's execution.

At eleven o'clock Cunningham was ready, and, as it proved, Nathan Hale
was ready also. Quietly standing among the few who had gathered to see
him die, and it is said in response to a taunt from Cunningham that if
he had any confession to make now was the time to make it, Hale
responded, glancing briefly at Cunningham and then calmly at the faces
about him, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my

For once in his life Cunningham must have been astounded. With no plea
for mercy, no shrinking from the worst that Cunningham could do, this
man, still almost a boy in years, had shown himself utterly beyond his
power--had lifted himself forever from the doom of a victim to the grand
estate of a victor. One sharp, brief struggle and Nathan Hale was
free--dead, but victorious!

Indefinite as are most of the details, there are some unwritten points
that may confidently be assumed.

That 22d of September was a Sabbath day, a day associated in Nathan
Hale's mind with religious observances; prayers at the family altar,
readings of the Bible, and gatherings of his friends within church
walls. Whether or not his family knew the dangerous quest on which he
had ventured, he knew that he was not absent from their memories, and
that the family were bearing him in their thoughts that Sabbath morning.
No other day could have made that assurance so real to him, and this
thought was probably one of his strongest earthly consolations and
inspirations while he was awaiting the slow but relentless preparations
for his death.

No wonder that he bore himself "calmly and with dignity," as Captain
Montressor said of him. No wonder that he died bravely--seemingly
without a tremor of soul. In his last words Nathan Hale, true and
faithful in every relation and every act of his brief life, gave to his
country more than his life, more than all the hopes he was relinquishing
so freely for her sake. In one short, indomitable breath of patriotism,
he uttered words that will be forgotten only when American history
ceases to be read.

William Cunningham, Provost Marshal of the English forces in America,
murderer and inhuman jailer, would have laughed to scorn the idea that
any being, human or divine, could preserve Nathan Hale's last words for
the inspiration of coming generations, yet a kindly British officer,
Captain John Montressor, carried them to Hale's friends.

Cunningham has left a record of brutality unsurpassed in American
history. He is himself said to have boasted that he had caused the death
of two thousand American soldiers. We know that any reference to the
prison ships in New York Harbor sets Cunningham before us as a cowardly
murderer, starving men to death by depriving them of rations which the
English supplied for them, and which he sold, pocketing the proceeds. He
stands alone on a pedestal of infamy.

The letters that Hale had written and left, as he hoped, to be delivered
to his friends, Cunningham ruthlessly destroyed, giving as his reason
that "the rebels should not know that they had a man in their army who
could die with so much firmness." Though Hale's letters were destroyed,
the English officer, John Montressor, aide to General Howe--a gentleman
in whose presence we may safely assume that Cunningham, cowardly as all
brutal men are, had not dared to maltreat Nathan Hale as he was known
to maltreat other prisoners--that very Sunday evening spoke of Hale's
death to General Putnam and Captain Alexander Hamilton at the American
outposts where he had been sent with a flag of truce by General Howe to
arrange for an exchange of prisoners. More was learned when a flag of
truce was sent two days later to the British lines by General
Washington, in answer to the one on September 22. Two friends of Hale,
Captain Hull and Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Webb, were among those who
went with the flag.

Through these flags of truce--and perhaps others--were obtained all the
positive knowledge that Hale's friends were ever able to secure; but the
unvarnished story, told by Captain Montressor, gave all that was
essential to reveal to his friends his manly attitude when in the
presence of General Howe, and his calmness and dignity when he was
awaiting execution; while his last unpremeditated but immortal words, in
reply to Cunningham's taunt, proved to all his friends that he had died
as he had lived--a Christian patriot, and a hero.

We may suppose that Nathan Hale himself had not the remotest idea that
anything concerning his death would ever be made known to his friends
save that, detected as a spy, he had died as the penalty he had known
would follow capture. The words spoken by Nathan Hale, as his last
earthly thought, seem to prove that the thought, breathed from the
depths of his fearless soul, shall live as long as pure patriotism
thrills the souls of mortal men.



From Enoch Hale's diary, parts of which were first published by his
famous grandson, Edward Everett Hale, we learn how the news reached the
Hale family. Enoch writes as follows:

     "September 30. Afternoon. Ride to Rev. Strong's [his uncle] Salmon
     Brook [Connecticut]. Hear a rumor that Capt. Hale, belonging to the
     east side of Connecticut River near Colchester, who was educated at
     College, was sentenced to hang in the enemy's lines at New York,
     being taken as a spy, or reconnoitering their camp. Hope it is
     without foundation. Something troubled at it. Sleep not very
     well.... October 15. Get a pass to ride to New York.... Accounts
     from my brother Captain are indeed melancholy! That about the
     second week of September, he went to Stamford, crossed to Long
     Island (Dr. Waldo writes) and had finished his plans, but before he
     could get off, was betrayed, taken, and hanged without ceremony....
     Some entertain hopes that all this is not true, but it is a gloomy,
     dejected hope. Time may determine. Conclude to go to the camp next

He afterwards wrote that Webb, one of Washington's staff, brought word
to Washington that Nathan Hale, "being suspected by his movements that
he wanted to get out of New York, was taken up and examined by the
general [Howe] and some minutes being found upon him, orders were
immediately given that he should be hanged. When at the gallows, he
spoke and told that he was a Capt. in the Continental army, by name
Nathan Hale."

To those who have experienced the long weeks of distressing anxiety that
often fall to the lot of those whose friends are in battle, or carried
prisoners to unknown camps, no words are needed to depict the anxiety
among Nathan Hale's family until particulars of his noble death were
finally learned.

It is a solemn but perhaps a comforting fact, that the deepest human
distress seems, after a few generations have passed, to have been "writ
in water." Bitter as must have been those early sorrowful hours, the
only later reminder of the tears that then flowed is given in the
statement that one who had loved him could not speak of him fifty years
later without tears in her eyes.

Of how many wept for him we can form no conception. Indeed, we should
have pitied any warmhearted girl or young man who knew him, and had
shared his joyous young life, who could have heard of his tragic death
without tears almost as bitter as for one intensely loved.

Duly Enoch Hale and his family learned all that ever will be known of
the last days of their beloved, and now honored, dead.

The following letter of Deacon Richard Hale's--good man and uncertain
speller that he was!--was written to his brother Samuel at Portsmouth,
New Hampshire, a few months after Nathan's death had become known:


     I Recd your favor of the 17th of February Last and rejoce to
     hear that you and your Famley ware well your obversation as to the
     Diffulty of the times is very just. so gloomey a day wee niver saw
     before but I trust our Cause is Just and for our Consolation in the
     times of greatest destress we have this to sopert us that their is
     a God that Jugeth in the earth if we can but take the comfort of
     it. as to our being far advanced in life if it do but serve to wean
     us from this presint troublesom world and stur us up to prepare for
     a world of peace and Rest it is well. the calls in Providance are
     loud to prepare to meet our God and O that he would prepare us. you
     desired me to inform you about my son Nathan you have doutless seen
     the Newberry Port paper that gives the acount of the conduct of our
     kinsman Samll Hale toard him in New York as to our kinsman being
     here in his way to York it is a mistake but as to his conduct tord
     my son at York Mr. Cleveland of Capepan first reported it near us I
     sopose when on his way from the Armey where he had been Chapling
     home as was Probley true betraie'd he doubtless was by somebody. he
     was executed about the 22nd of September last by the aconts we
     have had. a child I sot much by but he is gone I think the second
     trial I ever met with. my 3rd son Joseph is in the armey over in
     the Jarsyes and was well the last we heard from him my other son
     that was in the service belonged to the melishey and is now at
     home. my son Enoch is gone to take the small pox by enoculation.
     Brother Robinson and famley are well we are all threw the Divine
     goodness well my wife joins in love to you and Mrs Hale and your

     Your loving Brother
     COVENTRY March 28th 1777

For a while after Nathan Hale's death, in the crowding events of the
Revolution, his personal friends appear to have been his chief mourners.
One lady is said to have told Professor Kingsley of New Haven that she
had never seen greater anguish than that experienced by Deacon Hale and
his family when they heard of Nathan's death.

What the news meant to his "good grandmother Strong" we are not told.
For her, so faithful and unselfish in her loving, we can but be glad
that if she went home all the earlier for this blow, she must have gone
all the more serenely; assured that if the earth was the poorer, heaven
was the richer, because the grandson she had loved so truly was there
awaiting her.

Mrs. Abbot, daughter of Deacon Richard Hale's son, Joseph Hale, lived
at her grandfather's from 1784 till her marriage in 1799. Many years ago
she wrote to her cousin, "From my earliest recollection I have felt a
deep interest in that unfortunate uncle. When his death or the manner of
it was spoken of, my grief would come forth in tears. Living in the old
homestead I frequently heard allusions to him by the neighbors and
persons that worked in the family, much more so than by near relatives.
It seemed the anguish they felt did not allow them to make it the
subject of conversation. Was it not so with your mother?"

Rev. Edward Everett Hale refers in a historical address to the fact that
in his own early days the name of Nathan Hale was seldom mentioned in
his presence. We of to-day can but wish that somewhat of the luster from
the radiant halo that was to encircle his memory and to grow brighter as
the years pass on, might have comforted them. Yet each one of that
sorrowing family has long since learned to rejoice that, as nobly as any
martyr has ever died for his country, their lad went forth into the

The poem which follows was published in "Songs and Ballads of the
Revolution," collected by Mr. Frank Moore. It is not known when these
verses first appeared, but they are among the earliest tributes to Hale
after his death. It is thought possible, by some students of
Revolutionary history, that the lines may yet prove valuable in throwing
light upon the manner of Hale's capture and death, as they are probably
based on accounts current at that time of which records have not yet


(By an unknown poet of 1776)

  The breezes went steadily thro' the tall pines,
  A-saying "oh! hu-sh!" a-saying "oh! hu-sh!"
  As stilly stole by a bold legion of horse,
  For Hale in the bush, for Hale in the bush.

  "Keep still!" said the thrush as she nestled her young,
  In a nest by the road; in a nest by the road;
  "For the tyrants are near, and with them appear,
  What bodes us no good, what bodes us no good."

  The brave captain heard it, and thought of his home,
  In a cot by the brook; in a cot by the brook.
  With mother and sister and memories dear,
  He so gaily forsook; he so gaily forsook.

  Cooling shades of the night were coming apace,
  The tattoo had beat; the tattoo had beat.
  The noble one sprang from his dark lurking place
  To make his retreat; to make his retreat.

  He warily trod on the dry rustling leaves,
  As he pass'd thro' the wood; as he pass'd thro' the wood;
  And silently gain'd his rude launch on the shore,
  As she play'd with the flood; as she play'd with the flood.

  The guards of the camp, on that dark, dreary night,
  Had a murderous will; had a murderous will.
  They took him and bore him afar from the shore,
  To a hut on the hill; to a hut on the hill.

  No mother was there, nor a friend who could cheer,
  In that little stone cell; in that little stone cell.
  But he trusted in love from his father above,
  In his heart all was well; in his heart all was well.

  An ominous owl with his solemn bass voice
  Sat moaning hard by; sat moaning hard by.
  "The tyrant's proud minions most gladly rejoice,
  For he must soon die; for he must soon die."

  The brave fellow told them, no thing he restrained,
  The cruel gen'ral; the cruel gen'ral;
  His errand from camp, of the ends to be gained,
  And said that was all; and said that was all.

  They took him and bound him and bore him away,
  Down the hill's grassy side; down the hill's grassy side.
  'Twas there the base hirelings, in royal array,
  His cause did deride; his cause did deride.

  Five minutes were given, short moments, no more,
  For him to repent; for him to repent;
  He pray'd for his mother, he ask'd not another;
  To Heaven he went; to Heaven he went.

  The faith of a martyr, the tragedy shew'd,
  As he trod the last stage; as he trod the last stage.
  And Britons will shudder at gallant Hale's blood,
  As his words do presage; as his words do presage.

  "Thou pale king of terrors, thou life's gloomy foe,
  Go frighten the slave; go frighten the slave;
  Tell tyrants to you their allegiance they owe.
  No fears for the brave; no fears for the brave."

The body of the Martyr Spy was never found. For many years there appears
to have been some interest, but little knowledge, as to the place of
Nathan Hale's execution. During the last one hundred and thirty-eight
years, writer after writer has described his life and all the events
connected with it as they are believed to have occurred; and, as was
inevitable under the circumstances, some things have been written that
the critical historian cannot indorse.

Until near the end of the nineteenth century no reliable information,
even as to the place of his execution, had been gained. The late Mr.
William Kelby, Librarian of the New York Historical Society, "an
accepted authority on all subjects of this and kindred nature," is said
to have undertaken to locate the exact spot where it occurred, and met
with at least partial success.

Writing on the subject in 1893 he says in substance: When the British
took possession of New York in September, 1776, after the battle of Long
Island, General Howe occupied the Beekman house on Fifty-first Street
and First Avenue as his headquarters, while the army extended across the
island to the north of him. The corps of Royal Artillery occupied part
of the high ground between Sixty-sixth and Seventy-second Streets, where
they parked their guns and formed a camp.

Close to the camp were the old "five-mile stone" on the way to
Kingsbridge, and a tavern long known as "The Sign of the Dove." The
exact location of this tavern is shown from a survey of 1783 as being
west of the post road on Third Avenue between Sixty-sixth and
Sixty-seventh streets. It belonged, with four acres of land attached, to
the City Corporation.

The extract already shown on page 82 is from an Orderly Book (discovered
by Mr. Kelby) kept by an officer of the British Foot-Guards. Other
entries read as follows:

"October 6. The effects of the late Lieutenant Lovell to be sold at the
house near the Artillery Park.

"October 11. Majors of Brigade to attend at the Artillery Park near the
Dove at five this afternoon."

The story of Hale's confinement in the Beekman greenhouse at Fifty-first
Street and First Avenue on the night of September 21, 1776, is generally
accepted. Former stories of the place of execution are disproved by the
first extract from the Orderly Book, while the others indicate the
location of the Artillery Park. It therefore appears that Hale was
executed upon some part of this common land of the Corporation of the
City of New York, and it is probable that his body was buried there.

The tract is now covered mainly by buildings devoted to educational and
philanthropic uses. Possibly the dust of the Martyr Spy may lie in the
grounds of the Normal, or Hunter, College.

Other materials, found since Mr. Kelby wrote, confirm his conclusions
and make Third Avenue, not far north of Sixty-sixth Street, the most
probable spot of Nathan Hale's death. The noblest educational
institutions in New York City could have no more appropriate foundations
than those laid above the bodies of patriots who have died, not only for
the freedom of the city, but for that of the whole land.

For a time, as was inevitable, a pall seemed thrown over the memory of
Nathan Hale, and at first only the love of his own family strove to
commemorate his life and death. A stone was erected to his memory in
the cemetery at South Coventry, near the spot where his father expected
to be buried. It still stands there and has been declared to be one of
the best examples of the lettering of the times. It bears this

"Durable stone preserve the monumental record. Nathan Hale Esq. a Capt.
in the army of the United States, who was born June 6th, 1755, and
received the first honors of Yale College, Sept. 1773, resigned his life
a sacrifice to his country's liberty at New York, Sept. 22d, 1776,
Etatis 22d."

One by one were placed near his, his father's stone (his father died at
eighty-five), and those of other members of his family. These graves are
in a common burial lot near the Congregational Church in South Coventry
where the family had worshiped.

In November, 1837, the Hale Monument Association was formed for the
purpose of erecting at Coventry a fitting memorial of the
martyr-soldier. Congress was applied to for several years, but was slow
in appropriating money to honor the dead,--strangely unlike England in
honoring her martyrs, as will be seen later.

Appeals were made to the State legislature, and Stuart, Hale's earliest
biographer and sincere admirer, used his influence as a legislator in
securing an appropriation of twelve hundred and fifty dollars. The
women of Coventry redoubled their zeal, and by fairs, teas, etc., raised
a sufficient sum, added to the grant from the legislature and
contributions from some prominent men of the country, to pay for the
cenotaph. It is a pyramidal shaft, resting on a base of steps, with a
shelving projection one-third of the way up the pedestal. The material
is of hewn Quincy granite. It was designed by Henry Austin of New Haven.
It is fourteen feet square at the base and forty-five feet high. It was
completed under the superintendence of Solomon Willard, architect of
Bunker Hill Monument, at a cost of about four thousand dollars.

The inscription on the north side is, "Captain Nathan Hale, 1776"; on
the west, "Born at Coventry, June 6, 1755"; on the east, "Died at New
York, Sept. 22, 1776"; on the south, "I only regret that I have but one
life to lose for my country."

The monument stands on elevated ground. "Its site is particularly
fine;... on the north it overlooks a beautiful lake, while on the east
it looks through a captivating natural vista to greet the sun."

With the planning of this monument began the revival of interest in
Nathan Hale's short but splendid career that is still gathering strength
and will eventually establish his name among those of the bravest
American patriots.



When Captain Montressor told Hale's dismayed friends of the terrible
doom that had befallen their comrade, it must have seemed as if all the
influence Hale might have had in a prolonged life, all that could come
to such a man, had been sacrificed. We must not blame them if the
question involuntarily rose in their hearts, "Why such waste? Why was
such an influence so permanently destroyed?" Curiously enough, many
years passed with little special notice by the public of Hale's death.
But the leaven of patriotism works, even though slowly, and step by step
Hale was coming to his own. Little by little the memory of his sacrifice
for his country, and the fact that he had left words that should glow
with increasing splendor, took possession of those who had ears to hear
and hearts to remember.

Old Linonia in Yale did not forget the splendid boy, once its
Chancellor, who died as he had lived. Linonia's records still bear, in
clear and perfect lines, reports his hand had written when he was its
most assiduous member. Others might have forgotten him; Linonia had not.

On its one-hundredth anniversary, July 27, 1853,--Commencement
Week,--the poet of the occasion was Francis Miles Finch, Yale, 1846,
later Judge of the New York Court of Appeals. As poet, Mr. Finch of
course recalled many former members of the society. He ended with a poem
on Nathan Hale in which he held his listeners spellbound as stanza after
stanza, magnetic in proportion to their truthful beauty, fell from his

There has been a further service to his country by Judge Finch. His own
character has been graven into two different poems,--the one just
referred to, and one that he wrote later. The latter poem had,
undoubtedly, a powerful influence in causing our national Decoration Day
to be celebrated throughout the United States.

The story of this poem is interesting. In a town in Mississippi certain
Southern women went on a spring day, soon after the close of the Civil
War, to cover with flowers the graves of their beloved dead. The
gracious and tender thought must have come to them that in the graves of
aliens buried among them lay those as deeply mourned in Northern homes
as were those they themselves had loved.

Certainly no sweeter suggestion could have been more tenderly carried
out than that which led these bereaved women to spread flowers over the
graves of those who were once their enemies. Mr. Finch was told of this
incident, and the lines he wrote show his appreciation of the "generous
deed." The poem, "The Blue and the Gray," did much to heal the wounds in
both North and South.

The two poems by Judge Francis Miles Finch are quoted here, the first
with the drum-beat pulsing through it; the second in musical, flowing
lines that carry in them sorrow, loyalty, and the community of a common


  And one there was--his name immortal now--
  Who dies not to the ring of rattling steel,
  Or battle-march of spirit-stirring drum,
  But, far from comrades and from friendly camp,
  Alone upon the scaffold.

        To drum-beat and heart-beat
        A soldier marches by;
        There is color in his cheek,
        There is courage in his eye,
        Yet to drum-beat and heart-beat
        In a moment he must die.

        By starlight and moonlight
        He seeks the Briton's camp,
        He hears the rustling flag,
        And the armèd sentry's tramp.
        And the starlight and moonlight
        His silent wanderings lamp.

        With slow tread and still tread
        He scans the tented line,
        And he counts the battery guns
        By the gaunt and shadowy pine,
        And his slow tread and still tread
        Give no warning sign.

        The dark wave, the plumed wave!
        It meets his eager glance;
        And it sparkles 'neath the stars
        Like the glimmer of a lance:
        A dark wave, a plumed wave,
        On an emerald expanse.

        A sharp clang, a steel clang!
        And terror in the sound;
        For the sentry, falcon-eyed,
        In the camp a spy hath found;
        With a sharp clang, a steel clang,
        The patriot is bound.

        With calm brow, steady brow,
        He listens to his doom;
        In his look there is no fear
        Nor a shadow trace of gloom;
        But with calm brow and steady brow
        He robes him for the tomb.

        In the long night, the still night,
        He kneels upon the sod;
        And the brutal guards withhold
        E'en the solemn Word of God!
        In the long night, the still night,
        He walks where Christ hath trod.

        'Neath the blue morn, the sunny morn,
        He dies upon the tree;
        And he mourns that he can lose
        But one life for Liberty;
        And in the blue morn, the sunny morn,
        His spirit-wings are free.

        His last words, his message words,
        They burn, lest friendly eye
        Should read how proud and calm
        A patriot could die,
        With his last words, his dying words,
        A soldier's battle-cry!

        From Fame-leaf and Angel-leaf,
        From monument and urn,
        The sad of Earth, the glad of Heaven,
        His tragic fate shall learn;
        And on Fame-leaf and Angel-leaf,
        The name of HALE shall burn!


  By the flow of the inland river,
    Whence the fleets of iron had fled,
  Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
     Asleep are the ranks of the dead:
      Under the sod and the dew;
        Waiting the judgment-day;
      Under the one the Blue;
        Under the other, the Gray.

  These in the robings of glory,
    Those in the gloom of defeat,
  All with the battle-blood gory,
    In the dusk of eternity meet:
      Under the sod and the dew,
        Waiting the judgment-day;
      Under the laurel, the Blue;
        Under the willow, the Gray.

  From the silence of sorrowful hours
    The desolate mourners go,
  Lovingly laden with flowers,
    Alike for the friend and the foe:
      Under the sod and the dew,
        Waiting the judgment-day;
      Under the roses, the Blue,
        Under the lilies, the Gray.

  So, with an equal splendor,
    The morning sun-rays fall,
  With a touch impartially tender,
    On the blossoms blooming for all:
      Under the sod and the dew,
        Waiting the judgment-day;
      Broidered with gold, the Blue;
        Mellowed with gold, the Gray.

  So, when the summer calleth
    On forest and field of grain,
  With an equal murmur falleth
    The cooling drip of the rain:
      Under the sod and the dew,
        Waiting the judgment-day;
      Wet with the rain, the Blue,
        Wet with the rain, the Gray.

  Sadly, but not with upbraiding,
    The generous deed was done,
  In the storm of the years that are fading
    No braver battle was won:
      Under the sod and the dew,
        Waiting the judgment-day;
      Under the blossoms, the Blue,
        Under the garlands, the Gray.

  No more shall the war cry sever,
    Or the winding rivers be red;
  They banish our anger forever
    When they laurel the graves of our dead!
      Under the sod and the dew,
        Waiting the judgment-day;
      Love and tears for the Blue;
        Tears and love for the Gray.

On the one hundred and tenth anniversary of the evacuation of New York
by the British--November 25, 1893--a bronze statue of Nathan Hale was
presented to the city of New York. It was given by the New York Society
of the "Sons of the American Revolution," a society founded in 1876 to
perpetuate the memory and deeds of the war for American independence.
The presentation was made by the president of the society, Mr. Frederic
Samuel Tallmadge, the grandson of Major Tallmadge, Hale's classmate and
fellow-captain. The statue is of bronze and is by Frederick Macmonnies
of Paris. It represents Hale bareheaded, bound about his arms and his
ankles, ready for his death. It was placed in City Hall Park where Hale
was, for a time, supposed to have been executed. On the pedestal are
graven his last wonderful words.

During the exercises at the unveiling of this statue Dr. Edward Everett
Hale said: "The occasion, I suppose, is without a parallel in history.
Certainly, I know of no other instance where, more than a century after
the death of a boy of twenty-one, his countrymen assembled in such
numbers as are here to do honor to his memory and to dedicate the statue
which preserves it.

"He died near this spot, saying, 'I am sorry that I have but one life to
give for my country.' And because that boy said those words, and because
he died, thousands of other young men have given their lives to his
country; have served her as she bade them serve her, even though they
died as she bade them die."

The day's celebration was concluded by a dinner of the Society. Dr. Hale
spoke on this occasion also. He said in part:

"Let us never forget that this is the monument of a young man--that he
is the young man's hero. Let us never forget how the country then
trusted young men and how worthy they were of the trust. It was at the
very time of which I spoke that Washington first knew Hamilton and asked
him to his tent. Hamilton had already won the confidence of Greene.
Hamilton was, I think, in his nineteenth year. Knox, who commanded
Hamilton's regiment, was, I think, twenty-four. Webb, who commanded
Hale's regiment, was twenty-two. When, the next year, Washington
welcomed Lafayette, whom Congress appointed major-general, he
[Lafayette] was not twenty. And Washington himself, before whom others
stood abashed, had only attained the venerable age of forty-four. The
country needed her young men. She called for them and she had them. It
is one of those young men who, dying at twenty-one, leaves as his only
word of regret that he has but one life to give to her."

Although it is now known that Hale was not executed near City Hall Park,
in some respects there could be no more fitting location for a monument
to him than this, perhaps the busiest conflux of human beings that
anywhere crowd this great city. Thousands pass this statue, learning
from it their first lessons in American history. Hundreds have stopped,
seeing this bareheaded, dauntless man, evidently doomed to die, to try
to learn whence he came and why he stands there, appealing to the
noblest patriotism--patriotism that must touch the heart of any man who
knows the love of country.

Since this statue was placed, memorials of various kinds to Nathan Hale
have been erected in several parts of the country. The schoolhouses in
which he taught, although not occupying their original sites, have been
restored, and are in possession of patriotic societies.

To-day Yale, endowed with buildings costing millions, is learning that
stone and mortar, in edifices however beautiful, do not enshrine their
noblest memories.

Through a few friends of Yale, a statue of Nathan Hale by Bela Lyon
Pratt has recently been placed near the oldest college building,
Connecticut Hall. This building has been restored to the appearance it
bore when Nathan Hale dwelt therein. Who shall say that the statue of
the bound boy, facing death so manfully, will not prove one of Yale's
noblest endowments?

Still another beautiful statue of Nathan Hale by William Ordway
Partridge may be seen in the city of St. Paul, Minn.

Happily, Nathan Hale's ability to die for his country is but one side of
a Yale shield from which gleam the names of hundreds of her sons, who,
doubtless as ready to die for their country as he, had they been in his
place, have proved their power to live for God and for their native
land. Everywhere, in all quarters of the world, the Nathan Hale spirit
of unselfish devotion has inspired the sons of Yale to the noblest
service they could render; and every man, young or old, who passes the
statue of Nathan Hale will realize that hosts have lived lives inspired
by the same splendid spirit.

Nathan Hale himself went forth from his alma mater filled with the
joyous hopes and ambitions that have filled the souls of many other men,
all unconscious of the fact that the finest heroism and the highest
self-sacrifice lay just before him, but conscious that he meant to be
ready for the best that life could give him. He was ready; and the best
of life for him was the power to die as he died.



(1) _Rev. Joseph Huntington, D.D._

A somewhat full description of the Rev. Joseph Huntington, D.D., is well
worth placing among the friends of Nathan Hale. It was impossible for
such a boy as Nathan to have been under the care of such a man as Dr.
Huntington, first as pastor and then as his private teacher in his
preparation for college, without having been strongly influenced by him.
Indeed, scanning these old records of a parish of a hundred and fifty
years ago, we cannot help feeling a strong personal attraction toward
the Rev. Joseph Huntington.

Few men more fully prove the claim that many of the early New England
pastors were eminently fitted to lead their people heavenward and also
in the practical development of their daily lives.

Dr. Huntington lived a life evidently inspired by the finest ideals, and
also by shrewd common sense, always so dear to the heart of a New
Englander. It is a pleasure to recall the story of this man's useful
life, and realize that besides the reverence almost invariably accorded
to "the minister" in those days, he must have held the everyday
affection and wholesome trust of his people. Year by year he proved
himself not only their pastor, but a friend full of all kindly
sympathies, never above a hearty laugh when mirth was rampant, or a
sympathetic tear for hearts wrung with anguish.

He was born in Windham, Connecticut, in 1735. His ancestors came from
England about 1640 and the family ultimately settled in Windham. His
father, a man of somewhat arbitrary character, had determined that
Joseph should be a clothier, and forced him to remain in that business
until he was twenty-one. His intellectual ability was thought to be
somewhat remarkable, and his moral character so good that his pastor
advised him to begin a course of study for the ministry. He completed
his preparation for Yale College in an unusually short time, and was
graduated there in the year 1762.

His call to be settled over the First Church in Coventry was received so
soon after his graduation that we are forced to believe that his
theological course must have been brief. The parish in Coventry had
been greatly reduced in numbers. The meeting-house had been allowed to
go to decay, and the religious life of the parish was in a corresponding
state of depression. His ordination services were held out of
doors,--whether because the assemblage was too large for the church, or
because the building was too dilapidated, does not appear. The first
thing Mr. Huntington did after his settlement was to urge upon his
people the project of building a new meeting-house. They responded so
heartily that in a short time they had built the best church in the
whole region, having expended for it about five thousand dollars--a
large sum in those days.

Dr. Huntington does not appear to have been a laborious student. He had
few books of his own, largely depending upon borrowing. But he had a
remarkable memory and the power of so making his own whatever he read
that his scholarship and his originality appear never to have been
questioned. The Rev. Daniel Waldo says of him that he was rather above
the middle height, slender and graceful in form, and that he seemed to
have had an instinctive desire to make everybody around him happy. This,
added to his uniform politeness, caused him to be very popular in
general society.

The Rev. Mr. Waldo adds that Dr. Huntington was fond of pleasantry and
gives this instance:

A very dull preacher who had studied theology with him was invited by
his people to resign, and they paid him for his services chiefly in
copper coin. On telling Dr. Huntington how he had been paid, he was
advised to go back and preach a farewell sermon from the text,
"Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil." Many such anecdotes and
repartees of Dr. Huntington were current in Coventry for years after his

This brief summary of Dr. Joseph Huntington's life shows that the men to
whom Richard Hale intrusted the preparation of his three sons for
entering Yale was not only a Christian, but a gentleman of the finest
culture. He was able not only to impart to Enoch, Nathan and David Hale
the rudiments of scholarship requisite for entering Yale, but to inspire
such boys with the keenest appreciation of courtesy, broad mental
endowments, and a wholesome zeal for high public service.

The correspondence concerning the Union School in New London shows that
Dr. Huntington gave Nathan Hale the necessary recommendation for the
place. It is on record in Hale's diary that on December 27, 1775, the
day after his arrival home from Camp Winter Hill, he visited Dr.
Huntington; and in one of his New York letters he wrote, "I always with
respect remember Mr. Huntington and shall write to him if time permits."

Admitting that Nathan Hale's father and mother were his most important
early friends, we believe that Dr. Huntington, as pastor, tutor, and
friend during the six years before Nathan entered college, may have
stood not far behind the parents in deep influence upon his
character--that splendid character, destined to be one of the beacon
lights of our country's history.

(2) _Alice Adams_

Studying the lives of the founders of our republic, we are interested in
noting the early marriages that so often occurred, and which seem to
have been justified by the early mental maturity of the young men and
women in the eighteenth century.

With early marriage, large families were the rule and not the exception;
and eulogize the forefathers of New England as much as one may, no one
at all familiar with the lives of the mothers of those generations can
question the share that the foremothers had in broadening the lives
and inspiring the characters of the husbands and sons in that early
period. Nathan Hale showed the power of heredity, and Alice Adams, the
woman he is said to have loved, proved well that she too had come of no
unworthy stock.

It has been given few women to be so worthily loved as was Alice Adams,
from the time we catch our first glimpse of her till the last, in her
eighty-ninth year. She was born in June, 1757. Her mother married Deacon
Hale when Alice was in her thirteenth year. We do not know when Alice
first met Nathan Hale; but we do know that while both were very young
they found out that they loved each other, and proceeded to engage
themselves without consulting their elders. Nathan had several years of
work preparatory to his profession still before him, and, acting as they
supposed in the best interests of both the boy and the girl, the mother
and elder sister Sarah promptly discouraged the engagement and it was

In February, 1773, while Nathan was still at Yale and before she was
sixteen, Alice was married to Elijah Ripley, a prosperous merchant at
Coventry. Within two years Mr. Ripley died, aged twenty-eight, leaving
behind him a little son, also named Elijah, who died in his second year.

After Mr. Ripley's death, Mrs. Ripley with her baby boy returned to
Deacon Hale's home almost as an adopted daughter, comfortably provided
for by the estate of her late husband. A member of the Hale family, she
must have seen that whatever was true of Nathan Hale in the days when
they were boy and girl together, he, now a Yale graduate and a man among
men, first as teacher and then as soldier, was even more worthy of her
love than in their early days. It is probable that they corresponded
more or less, though happily none of the letters of either are preserved
for the curious to delight in. All we know is that in December, 1775, a
year after her husband's death, Nathan Hale stopped in Coventry while
absent from camp on army business, and the broken engagement has been
said to have been then renewed, this time without opposition.

Having been married and widowed, and having lost her little son, Alice
Adams Ripley was now free to listen to the claims of the first love that
had entered her heart. What the few brief months that remained to Nathan
Hale must have meant to Alice Ripley, believing in him and caring for
him, only the noblest women can comprehend.

In regard to the letters written by Nathan Hale on the morning of his
execution, one of these letters is said to have been written to his
mother. One or two of his biographers have inferred that this must be an
error, and that it was written to his father or to a brother. With the
natural delicacy always so conspicuous in him, a letter to his
"mother," so called, in reality the mother of one whom we believe to
have been his betrothed wife, Alice Adams Ripley, who would show it to
Alice and undoubtedly give it to her, was probably what he would have
written. The others would know what he had written, but Alice Adams
would doubtless possess the letter.

Alice Adams was to live many, many years, to become one of the most
notable women in the city in which she dwelt; so honored that a copy of
her portrait has long hung in the Athenæum, Hartford's finest shrine for
such portraits.

It was said of her that for several years after Nathan's death she had
no intention of marrying, but, after a widowhood of ten years,
events--some say changed circumstances--led her to accept an offer of
marriage from William Lawrence, of Hartford, which was thenceforth her
home. For many years she was naturally associated with the social life
of that city.

Whatever letters may have passed between Nathan Hale and Alice Adams
Ripley, no trace of them remains to-day. For this we can only be
grateful that, unlike other unfortunate lovers,--Robert Browning and
Elizabeth Barrett Browing, for instance,--not one word remains of their
correspondence. That belonged to him and to her alone. It is fortunate
that no mere curiosity hunter can feast his eyes or gossip over the
words these two people wrote to each other.

To Alice's husband Nathan's father gave the powder horn she once spoke
of as having seen Nathan working upon in his customary intense fashion,
"doing that one thing as if there was nothing else to be thought of at
that time." Its being given to Mr. Lawrence by Nathan's father, to whom
it must have been dear, proves that Mr. Lawrence, as well as his wife,
was a welcome addition to the Hale family. Mr. Lawrence in turn gave it
to his son William, and it is now treasured by the Connecticut
Historical Society.

Mrs. Lawrence lived well into the nineteenth century, dying in 1845, in
her eighty-ninth year. She was thoroughly appreciated in Hartford, but
it is from the pen of a granddaughter, in a note written to the Hon. I.
W. Stuart, that the best description of Mrs. Lawrence is given. Speaking
of her grandmother she said: "In person she was rather below the middle
height, with full, round figure, rather petite. She possessed a mild,
amiable countenance in which was reflected that intelligent superiority
which distinguished her even in the days of Dwight, Hopkins, and Barlow
in Hartford--men who could appreciate her, who delighted in her wit and
work, and who, with a coterie of others of that period who are still in
remembrance, considered her one of the brightest ornaments of their

"A fair, fresh complexion ... bright, intelligent, hazel eyes, and hair
of a jetty blackness, will give you some idea of her looks--the crowning
glory of which was the forehead that surpassed in beauty any I ever saw,
and was the admiration of my mature years. I portray her, with the
exception of the hair, as she appeared to me in her eighty-eighth year.
I never tired of gazing on her youthful complexion--upon her eyes which
retained their youthful luster unimpaired, and enabled her to read
without any artificial aid; and upon her hand and arm, which, though
shrunken much from age, must in her younger days have been fit study for
a sculptor.

"Her character was everything that was lovely. A lady who had known her
many years, writing to me after her death, says, 'Never shall I forget
her unceasing kindness to me, and her noble and generous disposition.
From my first acquaintance with her, and amid all the varied trials
through which she was called to pass, I had ever occasion to admire the
calm and christian spirit she uniformly exhibited. To _you_ I will say
it, I never knew so faultless a character--so gentle, so kind. That
meek expression, that affectionate eye, are as present to my
recollection now as though I had seen them but yesterday.'

"Such is the language of one who had known her long and well and whose
testimony would be considered more impartial than that of one who like
myself had been the constant recipient of her unceasing kindness and

When she died, the story of the early home of the Hales found its
completion. Shall we pity them or congratulate them that in those long
ago days so many sorrows came to them?--testing their strength,
developing their faith, and fitting them, as their days went by, for
life and service beyond.

The following chivalric poem was written by Nathan Hale--perhaps in
camp. It expresses his mental as well as emotional appreciation of Alice
Adams. It is here given exactly as it appears in the original
manuscript, with almost no punctuation marks. It is probable that this
is a first rough draft, intended to be improved at some future time.
There are marks on the margin of the paper which show that the writer
had possible alterations in mind.


  Alicia, born with every striking charm
  The eye to ravish or the heart to warm
  Fair in thy form, still fairer in thy mind
  With beauty wisdom sense with sweetness join'd
  Great without pride, & lovely without Art
  Your looks good nature words good sense impart
  Thus formed to charm Oh deign to hear my song
  Whose best whose sweetest strains to you belong.

  Let others toil amidst the lofty air
  By fancy led through every cloud above
  Let empty Follies build her castles there
  My thoughts are settled on the friend I love.
  Oh friend sincere of soul divinely great
  Shedest thou for me a wretch the sorrowed tear
  What thanks can I in this unhappy state
  Return to you but Gratitude sincere
  T'is friendship pure that now demand my lays
  A theme sincere that Aid my feeble song
  Raised by that theme I do not fear to praise
  Since your the subject where due praise belong
  Ah dearest girl in whom the gods have join'd
  The real blessings, which themselves approve
  Can mortals frown at such an heavenly mind
  When Gods propitious shine on you they love
  Far from the seat of pleasure now I roam
  The pleasing landscape now no more I see
  Yet absence ne'er shall take my thoughts from home
  Nor time efface my due regards for thee.

(3) _Benjamin Tallmadge_

Benjamin Tallmadge, one year older than Nathan Hale, was Hale's
classmate and one of his correspondents. Like Hale he became a teacher
for a time, and then, entering the army, served with distinction
throughout the war. He was intrusted by Washington with important
services. In October, 1780, he was stationed with Col. Jameson at North
Castle. He had been out on active service against the enemy and returned
on the evening of the day when Major André had been brought there and
had been started back to Arnold for explanations. This was four years
after the death of Hale.

Listening to the account of the capture, and the pass from Arnold,
Tallmadge at once surmised the importance of retaining André and
insisted upon his being brought back.

When André was once more in American hands, Tallmadge is said to have
been the first to suspect, from the prisoner's deportment as he walked
to and fro and turned sharply upon his heel to retrace his steps, that
he was bred to arms and was an important British officer. Major
Tallmadge was charged with his custody, and was almost constantly with
him until his execution. Tallmadge writes: "Major André became very
inquisitive to know my opinion as to the result of his capture. In other
words, he wished me to give him candidly my opinion as to the light in
which he would be viewed by General Washington and a military tribunal
if one should be ordered.

"This was the most unpleasant question that had been propounded to me,
and I endeavored to evade it, unwilling to give him a true answer. When
I could no longer evade his importunity and put off a full reply, I
remarked to him as follows: 'I had a much loved classmate in Yale
College, by the name of Nathan Hale, who entered the army in the year
1775. Immediately after the battle of Long Island, General Washington
wanted information respecting the strength, position, and probable
movements of the enemy.

"'Captain Hale tendered his services, went over to Brooklyn, and was
taken just as he was passing the outposts of the enemy on his return.'
Said I with emphasis,

"'Do you remember the sequel of this story?'

"'Yes,' said André, 'he was hanged as a spy. But you surely do not
consider his case and mine alike?'

"I replied, 'Yes, precisely similar, and similar will be your fate.'

"He endeavored to answer my remarks, but it was manifest he was more
troubled in spirit than I had ever seen him before."

Major Tallmadge walked with André from the Stone House where he had
been confined to the place of execution, and parted with him under the
gallows, "overwhelmed with grief," he says, "that so gallant an officer
and so accomplished a gentleman should come to such an ignominious end."

What would have occurred if André had not been recalled, but had reached
Arnold--whether both could have escaped by boat to the _Vulture_ as did
Arnold; whether Arnold, leaving André to his fate, could have escaped
alone under these suspicious circumstances; or whether Hamilton and the
others, who were dining with Arnold when the news of André's capture
reached him, could have managed to hold both until Washington's arrival,
cannot now be surmised. We only know that to Major Tallmadge belongs the
credit of the recall and retention of André as a prisoner, thereby
preventing the loss of West Point.

Major Tallmadge remained in the army and was greatly trusted by
Washington, rendering important assistance in the secret service. He
took part in many battles and in time became a colonel. For sixteen
years he was in Congress. He died at the age of eighty, leaving sons and
grandsons who won honored names in various callings.

(4) _William Hull_

When Captain William Hull, impelled by a strong natural caution, spoke
as forcibly as he could of the disastrous results that might follow
Nathan Hale's acceptance of the office of a spy in his country's
service, he described not only the result of the failure which seemed
almost inevitable, and which would result in a disgraceful death, but
also the contempt that would be felt among his fellow-officers should he
be successful. Hale, as we have seen, deliberately chose these dangers
that appeared so appalling, and lost his life in the manner predicted by

Could Captain Hull, on that September day in 1776, have looked forward
to other days in 1812, when, because of his surrender of Detroit, he
himself would stand as the most disgraced man in the American army, he
would have wondered what disastrous set of causes could have doomed him
to lower depths of discredit than he had imagined possible for his
friend Hale.

This is the story of Captain Hull as told by his grandson, the Rev.
James Freeman Clarke, a Unitarian clergyman, and an author of high

After remaining in the army throughout the Revolutionary War, where he
distinguished himself on repeated occasions, constantly rising in rank,
he settled in Massachusetts, practicing law, becoming prominent as a
legislator, and finally as one of the Massachusetts judges. In 1805, as
General Hull, he was appointed governor of the territory of Michigan by
President Jefferson, and removed thither, stipulating that in case of
war he should not be required to serve both as general and governor, as
he did not believe the duties of both could be successfully administered
by the same person.

The outbreak of the war of 1812, which occurred while Madison was
President, found what was then the northern frontier of America wholly
unprepared for hostilities. The country was new, with dense forests and
few roads. There were no adequate means of land defense, and no adequate
navy to patrol the lakes.

The British, as usual, had all the vessels needed, well-drilled
soldiers, and, more terrible than all, more than a thousand Indians,
ready to commit any atrocities upon defenseless white settlers. As Hull
had insisted, another officer was appointed to command the troops, such
as they were, but this officer became ill and Governor Hull was forced
to take command.

In the meantime, no amount of urgent entreaties could induce the
authorities at Washington to send reënforcements to the assistance of
the defenseless settlers. The American troops were unprepared to
maintain their own position, and absolutely unable to conquer and annex
Canada, as the government expected them to do. General Hull found
himself with some eight hundred men facing more than fifteen hundred
British regulars, and threatened in the rear by a thousand Indians.

What President Madison or any of his officers would have done, we cannot
say. They appear to have thought that it was General Hull's duty to
annihilate the British army, effectually dispose of the Indians, and
present Canada to the American government.

General Hull, however, was a practical soldier. He knew the fate that
would await the women and children in his territory, to say nothing of
his small army, if he risked a battle and was defeated, as he surely
would be; so he did what seemed to him the only possible thing to save
the people of Michigan. He surrendered. Canada remained unannexed; the
white settlers of Michigan were not delivered to the tender mercies of
the Indians, and General Hull paid the penalty of the independent stand
he had taken.

He probably foresaw that he must face a terrible ordeal. The whole
country appeared to be roused against him, and Hull at once became the
best-hated man in America. A court-martial was appointed.

At first it was hoped that he would be convicted of treason, but the
evidence showed that this charge could not be sustained. He was tried
for cowardice in face of the enemy, found guilty, and sentenced to be
shot. The latter part of the sentence President Madison remitted, in
consideration of his past eminent services in the army. So, stamped with
indelible disgrace by all who did not know the facts, a ruined and
dishonored man, in his sixty-first year General Hull went back to the
farm in Newton that had come to him through his wife. Here, surrounded
by the most devoted affection, he passed his few remaining years.

A ruined and discredited man he truly was,--the reputation and the honor
due him from his countrymen irrevocably lost and by no fault of his own.
Yet his grandson, the Rev. James Freeman Clarke, asserts that he was not
once heard to say an unkind word about the government that had treated
him so cruelly.

After his death, in 1825, one of his daughters wrote the story of his
life from his own writings, and the Rev. James Freeman Clarke sketched
for the world an outline of his grandfather's services in Michigan.
This shows that the man who, in his youth, tried to dissuade his friend
Nathan Hale from accepting the rôle of martyr, himself, in his old age,
bravely and gently endured a martyrdom compared to which the ostracism
he predicted for Hale, even if he succeeded in his mission, was but a
passing dream.

(5) _Stephen Hempstead_

To Stephen Hempstead, a sergeant in Nathan Hale's company in 1776, we
are indebted for the most reliable account that is known of Hale's
movements after he left New York in the service from which he was not to
return. Sergeant Hempstead removed to Missouri after the war, and this
account was first published in the _Missouri Republican_ in 1827. His
own words describing his last days with Hale are these:

"Captain Hale was one of the most accomplished officers, of his grade
and age, in the army. He was a native of the town of Coventry, state of
Connecticut, and a graduate of Yale College--young, brave,
honorable--and at the time of his death a Captain in Col. Webb's
Regiment of Continental Troops. Having never seen a circumstantial
account of his untimely and melancholy end, I will give it. I was
attached to his company and in his confidence. After the retreat of our
army from Long Island, he informed me, he was sent for to Head Quarters,
and was solicited to go over to Long Island to discover the disposition
of the enemy's camps, &c., expecting them to attack New York, but that
he was too unwell to go, not having recovered from a recent illness;
that upon a second application he had consented to go, and said I must
go as far with him as I could, with safety, and wait for his return.

"Accordingly, we left our Camp on Harlem Heights, with the intention of
crossing over the first opportunity; but none offered until we arrived
at Norwalk, fifty miles from New York. In that harbor there was an armed
sloop and one or two row galleys. Capt. Hale had a general order to all
armed vessels, to take him to any place he should designate: he was set
across the Sound, in the sloop, at Huntington (Long Island) by Capt.
Pond, who commanded the vessel. Capt. Hale had changed his uniform for a
plain suit of citizen's brown clothes, with a round broad-brimmed hat,
assuming the character of a Dutch schoolmaster, leaving all his other
clothes, commission, public and private papers, with me, and also his
silver shoebuckles, saying they would not comport with his character of
schoolmaster, and retaining nothing but his College diploma, as an
introduction to his assumed calling. Thus equipped, we parted for the
last time in life. He went on his mission, and I returned back again to
Norwalk, with orders to stop there until he should return, or hear from
him, as he expected to return back again to cross the sound, if he
succeeded in his object."

So far as there is any other evidence, it tends to confirm this part of
Sergeant Hempstead's report, and he is to-day considered one of the most
valuable authorities on Hale's last intercourse with brother soldiers.

Of the details of his captain's arrest and execution, which are told in
the last part of the account, and of which Hempstead had no personal
knowledge, he declares that he was "authentically informed" and did
"most religiously believe" them. Some of the incidents he gives appear
to have been proved since to have no basis in fact; others that vary
from reports now accepted may yet, with more light gained, be found to
be true.

The second letter sent by Sergeant Hempstead to the _Republican_ deals
with his experience in the army in 1781, when he was one of the victims
of the brutalities inflicted upon the hapless prisoners of war at Fort
Griswold, Groton, Connecticut. The injuries he received there were, as
he tells us, so severe that his own wife, having searched for his body
in the fort among the dead, scanned carefully the face of every wounded
soldier sheltered by pitying neighbors, passing him twice without
recognizing him--he too ill to make any sign--and then resuming her
search among the dead.

Later she found him, and after a time he regained sufficient strength to
be carried to his home. He was, however, incapacitated by his injuries
for service in the field, and was thenceforth able to perform only
duties calling for honest watchfulness rather than personal labor. After
the removal to Missouri the whole family prospered greatly. He settled
on a farm near the city of St. Louis, where he lived many years,
respected by all who knew him. He died in 1831.

(6) _Asher Wright_

Near the place where the Hale family lie buried is another grave
covering the dust of Asher Wright, once Nathan Hale's attendant. He was
so strongly attached to Hale that his tragic death is thought to have
unsettled his mind so that he never was quite himself again, and never
able to earn his own living. For several years after Nathan Hale's death
Wright was not heard of in his early home. Then he came back to
Coventry, bringing with him some of Nathan Hale's effects that he had
doubtless carried with him in his wandering, giving them, on his return,
to Deacon Hale's family.

Asher Wright died in his ninetieth year, having lived all his later days
in his house not far from the Hale home. His pension of ninety-six
dollars a year was so supplemented by the Hale family, and by David Hale
of New York, editor of the _Journal of Commerce_, that his last days
were very comfortable. His grave is marked by a marble headstone giving
his name, age, and former connection with Nathan Hale.

His farm adjoined that of the Hale homestead and has now become a part
of it.

(7) _Elisha Bostwick_

One letter concerning Nathan Hale comes to us with a curious and
interesting history.

Not long ago, while in the city of Washington, a loyal friend and warm
admirer of Nathan Hale, George Dudley Seymour, Esq., of New Haven, had
his attention called to a remarkable tribute to Hale. It proved to have
been written by a fellow-soldier in the Revolutionary War, Captain
Elisha Bostwick. This remarkable document was found in the musty records
of a very old pension list, and the portion relating to Nathan Hale is
here given. It came to light a hundred and thirty-five years after
Hale's execution. We give this valuable record of Captain Bostwick's as
it appeared in the _Hartford Courant_ of December 15th, 1914:

"I will now make some observations upon the amiable & unfortunate Capt.
Nathan Hale whose fate is so well known; for I was with him in the same
Regt. both at Boston & New York & until the day of his tragical death; &
although of inferior grade in office was always in the habits of
friendship & intimacy with him: & my remembrance of his person, manners
& character is so perfect that I feel inclined to make some remarks upon
them: for I can now in imagination see his person & hear his voice--his
person I should say was a little above the common stature in height, his
shoulders of a moderate breadth, his limbs strait & very plump: regular
features--very fair skin--blue eyes--flaxen or very light hair which was
always kept short--his eyebrows a shade darker than his hair & his voice
rather sharp or Piercing--his bodily agility was remarkable. I have seen
him follow a football & kick it over the tops of the trees in the Bowery
at New York (an exercise which he was fond of)--his mental powers seemed
to be above the common sort--his mind of a sedate and sober cast, & he
was undoubtedly Pious; for it was remarked that when any of the soldiers
of his company were sick he always visited them & usually prayed for &
with them in their sickness.--A little anecdote I will relate; one day
he accidentally came across some of his men in a bye place playing
cards--he spoke--what are you doing--this won't do,--give me your cards,
they did so, & he chopd them to pieces, & it was done in such a manner
that the men were rather pleased than otherwise--his activity on all
occasions was wonderful--he would make a pen the quickest & best of any

"Innumerable instances of occurrences which took place in the Army I
could relate, but who would care for them: Perhaps it may be thought by
some that I have already been at the expense of Prolixity. Nobody in
these days feels as I do, left here alone, & they cannot if they would,
but to me it is a melancholy pleasure to go back to those Scenes of fear
& anguish & after the laps of 50 years (1826 was in my 78th year) to
rumenate upon them which I think I can do with as bright a recollection
as though they were present--One more reflection I will make--why is it
that the delicious Capt. Hale should be left & lost in an unknown grave
& forgotten!--

"The foregoing Statements were made from Memory & recollection & from
documents & Memorandoms which I kept.--ELISHA BOSTWICK."

(8) _Edward Everett Hale_

Of the subsequent records of the Hale family no trace remains that is
not honorable. Nathan's brother Enoch was settled at Westhampton,
Massachusetts, in 1777, where he remained a useful and beloved pastor
for sixty years. Enoch's eldest son, Nathan, graduated at Williams
College in 1804. He was editor-in-chief of the _Boston Daily Advertiser_
for more than forty years. Nathan's son, Nathan, a Havard graduate,
became associate editor of the _Boston Advertiser_.

Lucretia Peabody Hale, a well-known writer in her day, whose delightful
and amusing "Peterkin Papers" are still read and remembered, was a
granddaughter of the Rev. Enoch Hale.

Edward Everett Hale, a man beloved by every one who knew him, was the
son of "a great journalist," Nathan, grandson of Enoch, and therefore
grandnephew of Captain Nathan Hale. He, too, had a son Nathan who died
in his early manhood. Edward Everett Hale was one of the most commanding
and admired of men, with rare endowments as clergyman, author, editor,
and patriot.

Those interested in the study of his granduncle, Nathan, owe to him the
preservation of many records of the Hale family, and an arrangement of
the genealogy of the Hale family, made while he was a Unitarian minister
in Worcester, Massachusetts, and kindly lent to the Hon. I. W. Stuart,
one of Hale's early biographers.

It will be long before some of Edward Everett Hale's vital words are
forgotten; longer still before his marvelous story, "The Man Without a
Country," shall cease to thrill its readers.

The impassioned sentences in which he cites its unhappy hero as speaking
to a boy--a midshipman--while under heavy stress, read, "For your
country, boy, and for your flag, never dream a dream but of serving her
as she bids you, though the service carry you through a thousand hells.
No matter what happens to you, no matter who flatters you or who abuses
you, never look at another flag, never let a night pass but you pray God
to bless that flag. Remember, boy, that behind all these men you have to
do with, behind officers, and government, and people even, there is the
Country Herself, your Country, and that you belong to Her as you belong
to your own mother."

No one justly comprehending the bed rock of Edward Everett Hale's
boundless patriotism can doubt that if the same call of duty had come
to him that came in bygone days to his relative, young Nathan Hale, he
would have done exactly as Nathan Hale did. That call did not come, but
to the end of his days Edward Everett Hale lived for his country as
nobly as Nathan Hale died for it.



Robert Hale arrived in Massachusetts in 1632. He was one of those sent
from the first church in Boston to form the first church in Charlestown
in 1632, and was a deacon of this church. He was a blacksmith by trade.
He also had a gift for practical mathematics, being regularly employed
by the General Court of Massachusetts as a surveyor of new plantations.
His son John, of whom mention has been made in connection with the
witchcraft delusion, was a graduate of Harvard in 1657. Samuel, the
fourth son of John, was the father of Richard, father of Nathan Hale.

Elizabeth Strong, wife of Deacon Richard Hale and mother of Nathan, came
from a family more notable than that of her husband. Her grandfather,
Joseph Strong, represented Coventry in the General Assembly of
Connecticut for sixty-five sessions and presided over town-meeting in
his ninetieth year.

Mrs. Hale had four immediate relatives who were graduates of Yale
college. Three of the sons of Deacon Richard Hale and Elizabeth Strong
Hale graduated from Yale,--Enoch, the fourth son, Nathan, the sixth
child, and David, the eighth son. Three of the sons were officers in the
Revolutionary army, and the husband of a daughter was a surgeon there.
John was a major; Joseph, who died as the result of the privations
endured there, was a lieutenant; and Nathan was a captain. Elizabeth,
daughter of Joseph, married Rev. Abiel Abbot, for many years minister in
Coventry. Three of their sons were college graduates--two of Yale and
one of Dartmouth. Rebekah, another daughter of Joseph, married Ezra
Abbot of Wilton, N.H. Three sons were graduates of Bowdoin. One son, the
Rev. Abiel Abbot, was settled in East Wilton.

Two daughters also married clergymen. Another daughter of Joseph, Mary,
married the Rev. Levi Nelson. For a man who died at the age of
thirty-four, Lieutenant Joseph Hale appears to have been well
represented by his descendants.

Surgeon Rose of the Revolutionary army, and Elizabeth Hale, daughter of
Deacon Richard Hale, were the grandparents of the distinguished lawyer
and statesman, Washington Hunt, and of Lieutenant Edward Hunt, U.S.A.,
first husband of the celebrated author, Helen Hunt.

Enoch Hale, Deacon Richard Hale's fourth son, graduated in the same
class with his brother Nathan, became a minister, and spent a long life
in his first and only pastorate. One of his sons, Enoch, was educated at
Yale and Harvard and became a noted physician. A son, Nathan, was a
graduate of Williams College, and editor of the _Boston Advertiser_ for
more than forty years. His son Nathan, a Harvard man, became coeditor
with him. One of Enoch's granddaughters married a minister named

David, another son of Deacon Richard Hale, graduated at Yale, and was
settled in the ministry at Lisbon, Connecticut. Joanna, the second
daughter of Richard Hale, married Dr. Nathan Howard.

One of Enoch Hale's grandsons was president of the Continental Bank in
New York City. The most noted of Enoch Hale's descendants was the Rev.
Edward Everett Hale, clergyman, editor, and author, and a graduate of
Harvard. The writer, Lucretia Peabody Hale, was one of Enoch Hale's
grandchildren. David Hale, a grandson of Richard Hale, was long in
control of the _Journal of Commerce_ in New York City and noted for his
charities. Alexander and Charles, grandsons of Enoch, were graduates of

As this list of college graduates and professional men is not extended
beyond the year 1850, a little past the limit of a century after the
marriage of Richard Hale and Elizabeth Strong, one is inclined to wonder
whether any other farmer's family within that, or any other, period in
American history, can show a more remarkable record.

One is impressed, too, most profoundly, by the realization that,
although Elizabeth Strong Hale died so early, as lives are now
measured,--she was only forty,--to few women in any land who have
reached the appointed limit of human life have been given the remarkable
power of leaving to so many descendants such warmth of feeling and such
nobility of nature as passed through that century of her descendants.



For some time after the death of Nathan Hale a report was circulated,
and apparently substantiated, that he had been betrayed into the hands
of the British by a Tory cousin. Ultimately this report was printed in a
Newburyport (Massachusetts) newspaper of the day, and read by Mr. Samuel
Hale of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. This Mr. Hale was a prominent teacher
and a strong friend of the American cause, and uncle both to Nathan Hale
and to Samuel Hale, the cousin who was said to have betrayed Nathan.

Mr. Samuel Hale never for a moment believed the report, and set himself
at once to disprove it. This appears to have been done in the most
effectual way by the combined efforts of Mr. Samuel Hale and Deacon
Hale, who furnished proof that the supposed betrayer of Nathan Hale had
never visited in Deacon Hale's family, and, not being in his uncle's
house when Nathan visited there, had never so much as seen Nathan Hale.

There were, of course, at the time, strong animosities existing between
those who supported the British cause among the Americans, and the
Americans who were opposing England. As at all such times, some members
of each party were not only unjust but cruel to the other party; and in
some respects this nephew of the teacher, Samuel Hale, and asserted
betrayer of Nathan, paid very heavily for his loyalty to the English
cause. We will let him tell his own story, only adding that when
hostilities broke out he was a young and successful barrister practicing
in Portsmouth, was married, and had one child.

Unswerving in his loyalty to the English cause, he was soon obliged to
leave New Hampshire, and eventually to go into English territory. He
wrote to his uncle Samuel, in whose family he had been reared, and later
to his wife; neither letter is dated, but it is probable that when the
latter was written he was in Nova Scotia. His letter to his uncle runs
in part as follows:

"My affections as well as my allegiance are due to another nation. I
love the British government with filial fondness. I have never been
actuated by any political rancor towards the Americans. My conduct has
always been fair, explicit, and open, and I may add, _some of your
people have found it humane_ at a time when affairs on our side wore
the most flattering appearances. My veneration is as high, my friendship
as warm, and my attachment as great as ever it was for many characters
among you, though I have differed much from them in politics. In the
justness of the reasoning which led to the principles that have guided
me through life, I can suppose myself mistaken. The same thing may have
been the case with my opponents. Our powers are so limited, our means of
information so inadequate to the end, that common decency requires we
should forgive each other when we have every reason to think that each
has acted honestly.

"Sure I am, this is the case with me and I hope it is the same with some
of you. My conduct during this unhappy contest has been invariably
uniform. I can in no sense be called a traitor to your state. I never
owed it any allegiance, because I left it before it had assumed the form
or even the name of an independent state, and when I neither saw or felt
any oppression. I must have been mad as well as wicked to have acted any
other part than I did upon the principles I held. If I have been
mistaken I am sorry for the error, and if it be error I still continue
in it."

This letter is certainly a good illustration of the truth that, in all
great contests, perfectly honorable and consistent men are forced to
take opposite sides, even at the cost of suffering heavy injustice. The
letter to his wife is here given in full.

     MY DEAR GIRL,--

     This you will get by Mr. Hart's flag of Truce, who is coming to
     Boston for his family. I know the disposition of the Leaders at
     Boston so well, that I doubt not of his success. I would have come
     for you and the boy, but I thought you would leave your father with
     reluctance, nor am I sure that I could have obtained leave for you
     to come away, if you were disposed. I fear the resentment of the
     people against me may have injured you, but I hope not. I am sorry
     such a prejudice has arisen.

     Depend upon it, there never was the least truth in that infamous
     newspaper publication charging me with ingratitude, etc. I am happy
     that they have had [to have] recourse to falsehood to vilify my
     character. Attachment to the old Constitution of my country is my
     only crime with them--for which I have still the disposition of the
     primitive martyr.

     I hope and believe you want no pecuniary assistance. If you should
     you may apply to some of my friends or your relations. You may then
     use my name with confidence that they shall be amply satisfied. I
     believe I shall have the power, I am sure I shall have the will, to
     recompense them again.

     I somewhat expect to see you in a few months--perhaps not before I
     have seen England. In the meanwhile, my dear Girl, take care of
     your own and the Boy's health. He may live to be serviceable to his
     country in some distant period. Respect, Love, Duty, etc., await
     all my inquiring and real friends.

     I am, etc.
     S. HALE.


These letters sufficiently attest the character of the man, and we can
hope that in later days he was enabled to return to his family, and to
prove that political differences of opinion had not changed the
integrity of his life.

Knowing nothing of his later days, we may rejoice that the base
assertion that this own cousin had betrayed Nathan Hale was wholly
without foundation; and that in him, also, the Hale trait of loyalty to
honest opinions enabled him to make sacrifices as great in their way as
those made by many of his kindred.



If Nathan Hale was in many respects the most notable American martyr,
another man, in the English army, four years later met a doom that to
the English appears to have exalted him to a rank corresponding to
Nathan Hale's. For a long time there was a glamour about André that
lifted him above the place to which, in the minds of many, he rightfully
belonged, and comparisons have often been made between him and Hale, as
if in reality their services and their characters justified such

It has been our aim to describe Hale as accurately as possible. He has
been presented as an educated, high-minded patriot, wholly intent upon
serving his country to the full extent of his ability, ready to run any
risk in her service, and fully comprehending, in his last supreme effort
to serve her, that he was risking his life and facing the possibility of
a dishonorable death. He expected no reward if he succeeded, save the
consciousness of having done his duty. But fail he did, and we have seen
how simply and bravely he accepted his doom. His grave is unknown to
this day, and his country, as a country, has made no recognition
whatever of his supreme sacrifice.

In regard to André, we know that he was of foreign parentage, his father
a Genevan Swiss, and his mother French. He had not inherited a drop of
English blood. Born, however, after his parents removed to London, he
was, in ordinary acceptance, English.

His parents were able to educate him thoroughly, and to fit him for what
they supposed would be a successful commercial career. A disappointment
in love, however, led him to seek a change of scene, and he entered the
English army.

Personally he was most attractive, charming in his manners beyond the
average man, a fine linguist, and a brave man. He soon attracted
attention among the English officers engaged in the war against America,
and was eventually made adjutant general of the English army. So far as
can now be judged, his life as a soldier had been most agreeable, and he
had made friends with all his associates. While Arnold was perfecting
his designs to betray West Point into the hands of the English, and
thus in effect terminate the war, André was appointed to act as the
intermediary between Arnold and Sir Henry Clinton.

André may have looked upon himself as an envoy from his own commander to
an American commander, and he well knew that, if successful, high honor
and a desirable command in the British army would be awarded him by the
English government. He does not appear to have considered the fact that
he was risking his life in the service of the English. Indeed, none of
the English officers appear to have thought it possible that the
Americans would dare to treat as a spy an English adjutant general who
had been invited to his headquarters by General Arnold, and by him
provided with safeguards for his return. So sure were they of André's
safety that it is said the British officers treated with derision the
suggestion that he was in danger, even after his capture.

Once captured, they should not have been so sure of his safety. But
neither they nor he had any idea that he would be captured. Indeed, we
can hardly see how he could have been captured had he followed the
instructions of Sir Henry Clinton, who strictly enjoined him not to go
within the American lines, not to assume any disguise, and not to carry
a scrap of writing.

At first André had supposed that Arnold would meet him on the _Vulture_,
and that all their negotiations would be completed there. But Arnold,
too crafty to run any personal risk, or arouse any suspicion in his own
officers, insisted upon André's landing and conferring with him at some
little distance from his own headquarters. Disregarding, through
Arnold's persuasions, Clinton's first order to remain upon the
_Vulture_, André's other failures in obedience appear to have been
inevitable, and taking the risks as they came, he went forward to his
doom, to his death, to Arnold's ruin as an American citizen, and to the
preservation of the infant republic.

For the third time, Providence appears to have thwarted the shrewdest
plans of the enemies of America. First came the fog in New York Bay,
enabling Washington to withdraw his troops from Brooklyn without the
knowledge of the British; second, the knowledge of Hale's fate and the
preservation of his last words by a humane English officer, despite the
malice of Provost Marshal Cunningham; third, and apparently most
important of all, the capture of André, involving the defeat of Arnold's
traitorous plans to ruin his country's cause.

From the moment André fell into the hands of the Americans, he was
treated with the utmost courtesy. Every possible opportunity for him to
prove his innocence was given him, and an offer to exchange him for
Arnold, who had fled to the British camp, was made to the commanders of
the English. This, however, could not be done honorably by Sir Henry
Clinton, and André had to face a fate he had not for a moment thought

He bore himself bravely, and he certainly won the hearts of those who
held him prisoner. When he came to die in Tappan--not, as he had hoped,
as a soldier, shot to death, but hanged as a spy--he seemed for a moment
greatly affected. Then recovering himself before the fatal drop he said,
"Gentlemen, I beg you all to bear witness that I die as a brave man."

Self-pity, the desire to be honored despite the manner of his death,
marked André's exit from the world. Hale had gone hence without one
personal expression of regret save that he could not add to his service
for his country.

André had died pitied and lamented even by loyal Americans. England,
remembering what he had done to serve her, and that he had died in her
service, rendered his memory the highest honor. She conferred knighthood
on his brother, and a pension of three hundred guineas a year on his
mother and sisters, already well provided for.

Forty years later she sent one of her war vessels to America to bring
his body back to England; and then the doors of stately Westminster
Abbey, in which lie buried the dust of those she most delights to honor,
were opened to receive his remains; there they will lie till the old
Abbey crumbles.

Thus England honors the men who try to serve her in any line of heroic
service, proving that if she "expects every man to do his duty," she, in
her turn, expects to honor those who serve her, be they her own sons or
the sons of strangers born "within her gates."

October 2, 1879, the ninety-ninth anniversary of the execution of André,
a monument, prepared by order of Cyrus W. Field and placed over the spot
of André's execution, was unveiled. There were present members of
historical societies, of the United States Army, of the newspapers, and
various other persons. At noon, the hour of André's execution, the
memorial was unveiled. There were no ceremonies on the occasion. The
epitaph had been prepared by the Rev. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, the
beloved and honored Dean of Westminster, at whose suggestion Mr. Field
had erected the memorial. It is inscribed as follows:

          Here died, October 2, 1780
      Major John André of the British Army,
        Who, entering the American lines
      On a secret mission to Benedict Arnold,
        For the surrender of West Point,
  Was taken prisoner, tried and condemned as a spy.
                  His death
      Though according to the stern rule of war,
          Moved even his enemies to pity;
          And both armies mourned the fate
            Of one so young and so brave.
  In 1821 his remains were removed to Westminster Abbey.
        A hundred years after the execution
      This stone was placed above the spot where he lay,
      By a citizen of the United States against which he fought,
          Not to perpetuate the record of strife,
          But in token of those friendly feelings
          Which have since united two nations,
        One in race, in language, and in religion,
        With the hope that this friendly union
            Will never be broken.

On the other side are these words of Washington:

  "He was more unfortunate than criminal."
  "An accomplished man and gallant officer."


The first of the two lines was from a letter of Washington to Count de
Rochambeau, dated October 10, 1780. The second is from a letter written
by Washington to Colonel John Laurens on October 13 of the same year.

In the year 1853 some Americans who believe that all historic spots in
our land should be marked by permanent memorials, erected a monument at
Tarrytown, New York, in honor of the captors of André. Hon. Henry J.
Raymond made the address at its dedication. Mr. Raymond was born in 1820
and was graduated from the University of Vermont in 1840. He assisted
Horace Greeley in the conduct of the _Tribune_ and other newspapers. He
founded the _New York Times_ in 1851 and died in 1869.

In the address just mentioned, Mr. Raymond, contrasting the halo that
surrounded André's name with the oblivion then seemingly the fate of
Nathan Hale, closed with these impassioned words:

"Where sleeps the Americanism of Americans, that their hearts are not
stirred to solemn rapture at thought of the sublime love of country
which buoyed him [Hale] not alone above 'the fear of death,' but far
beyond all thought of himself, of his fate, and his fame, or of anything
less than his country, and which shaped his dying breath into the sacred
sentence which trembled at the last upon his unquivering lip?"

With this tribute we close, believing that the tardy justice accorded to
our martyr-hero is destined to become a nation-wide loyalty; that the
day will yet come when our nation, as a nation, will recognize the
nobility of nature displayed, and will assign a high place to the brave
lad who so sublimely relinquished all that life held, and all that
coming years might bring, to die for his country,--_our country_,--the
high-souled Nathan Hale.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Nathan Hale" ***

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