1929 1/2¢ Nathan Hale
Issue Date: May 25, 1929
First City: Washington, DC
The Hanging of Nathan Hale
U.S. #653 pictures a patriot hanged during the American Revolution as a spy. Before he was hanged, Hale gave a speech. According to tradition he ended his speech with, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
Hale was born in Coventry, Connecticut. He graduated from Yale College in 1773. Hale accepted a lieutenant’s commission from the Connecticut Assembly, and took part in the siege of Boston. When the British left Boston and entered the New York area, Hale was among the patriots that went to continue fighting there. Hale’s bravery and leadership had already earned him the rank of captain in the Continental Army. His leadership in the capture of a British supply vessel guarded by a warship won him a place in the Rangers. This elite fighting group was used for the most dangerous and crucial missions.
When General George Washington asked the Ranger’s commander to select a man for a surveillance mission, Hale volunteered. Disguised as a Dutch schoolmaster, Hale managed to pass through enemy lines. But, he was captured upon his return. Hale was found to be a spy and condemned to hang. The 21-year-old was remarkably calm before his execution.