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Hale, Nathan,1755–76, American soldier, hero of the American Revolution, b. Coventry, Conn. A young schoolteacher when the Revolution broke out, he was commissioned an officer in the Connecticut militia, served in the siege of Boston, then went to take part in operations in New York. He volunteered for the dangerous mission of getting information about the British forces on Long Island, where he went in the natural disguise of a schoolmaster. Inexperienced, he revealed his mission to a former British officer, was captured, and was hanged without trial. He is remembered especially for the statement he is said to have uttered on the gallows, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
See biography by H. P. Johnston (1914); M. Pennypacker, General Washington's Spies on Long Island and in New York (1939).
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(1755–1776) Revolutionary war hero, calmly accepted fate. [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 215]
Hale, Nathan (1755–1776)
hero of American revolution; famous for “I regret I have but one life to give for my country.” [Am. Hist.: Hart, 341]
(1755–1776) American Revolutionary spy, hanged by British; regretted only having one life to give for country. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1176]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Hale, Nathan(1755–76) soldier, martyr; born in Coventry, Conn. He graduated from Yale (1773) and became a Continental Army captain in 1776. He was captured by British soldiers while disguised as a schoolmaster and hanged. His famous declaration "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country" became a symbol of the Revolutionary spirit.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
An asterisk ("*", see also splat, ASCII). Notionally, from "I regret that I have only one asterisk for my country!" ("life to give" -> "ass to risk" -> "asterisk"), a misquote of the famous remark uttered by Nathan Hale just before he was hanged. Hale was a (failed) spy for the rebels in the American War of Independence.
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