A captain in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, Nathan Hale famously announced "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country" just before being executed by the British for being a spy. Hale grew up in Connecticut and graduated from Yale College in 1773. He began a career as a teacher, but when the War for Independence heated up in 1775, Hale accepted a commission as a lieutenant in the Continental Army. He served at Boston and then New York, where he volunteered to go behind British lines to gather intelligence. He was captured by the British on 21 September 1776 and immediately admitted that he was spying for General George Washington. British general William Howe ordered the execution of Hale, who was hanged the next day. Hale's famous quote comes by way of a memoir by his friend, William Hull, who reported the famous last words as told to him by a British engineer who spoke with Hale, Captain John Montresor. Although Hale's spying mission ended in failure, his display of patriotism made him a hero among the colonists fighting for independence.
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