As a patriotic kid, I loved the story of Nathan Hale. I loved it so much that I began to write a book about him. I researched his story and learned much about his short life. I was enamored by the simplicity of his passion, pride and love of his country.
I have finished the founders series and will be moving on to a short series on the Federalists papers, but today, I wanted to write a short homage to the young patriot, Nathan Hale. Not for his sake, but for the sake of Americans today.
Because, believe me, we have much we could learn from this young man. While our founders were critical to producing this great nation, it is the young men like Nathan Hale who fought to make it possible. They believed in America’s cause. They believed in the cause of liberty.
Think about it. The year was 1776. At this point, the United States was not yet even a country of her own, she was still a British colony—and yet, there were numerous average citizens who held impassioned patriotism towards her, enough to die for her.
How much more has America given us today? And yet we can’t even stand for our National Anthem?
Nathan Hale was born in 1755 in Connecticut. He was born to a Puritan family, a family who instilled in their children the virtues of hard work, religious virtue and education. He attended Yale University at age 14 and graduated at age 18. He went on to be a school teacher.
However, he saw the brewing war and joined Washington’s Army in 1776. Washington, after having lost Boston to the British, was, in desperate need of information regarding Britain’s next move. So, he asked for a volunteer to spy and bring back information about future British movements.
Young, 21 year old, Nathan Hale, volunteered.
It was September 12th of 1776 when he went into enemy territory, disguised as a school teacher, in search of any information regarding British movements. No one knows the exact reason for his exposure to the British, but some believe that his cousin Samuel Hale, a loyalist, turned him in.
He was captured by the British, who found maps and other documents on him. They concluded that he was a spy and sentenced him to hang the next day.
There are many rumors regarding what happened when Hale was hung. Some say that a British soldier was so moved by Hale’s composure, bravery and patriotism that he came to the Americans with a white flag and told the story —as well as delivered two letters Hale had written the night before — others say that no one really knows what he said but that onlookers were impressed by his composure and resolve. He met death with bravery and composure—for his country.
Message to Americans Today
Think about this story in the context of what is happening in America today. Have you noticed that it’s fellow Americans who are turning in and turning on their own neighbors, co-workers if they aren’t “wearing a mask” or “following social distancing guidelines”.
Consider Samuel Hale, a loyalist. He was against the American revolution and, if rumor is true, turned on his own kin, because of his political beliefs. While turning fellow Americans in for refusing to follow “social distancing guidelines” is nowhere near the crime of turning over a spy to certain death, it still speaks to the reality that people are willing to turn on each other—no matter the connection or life lived together before.
Nathan started his career at age 18. He volunteered to fight for his country and volunteered to risk his life for his country.
And when facing death, faced it with courage and resolve. He was settled and grounded in his love of his country and therefore he faced death with courage and composure.
He knew what he stood for…so he knew what died for.
That kind of principle, that kind of foundation is lost on the young in America today. Truly, it’s lost on almost everyone in America today. Americans don’t stand for anything and so they fall for everything. There is little thankfulness, sacrifice or understanding for the cost of this country.
Hale knew what he stood for, which is why he knew what he was dying for. He died for the cause of liberty, for his country.
Those of us who do still love this country should learn from this young man. We owe far more to this country than he did. We must face what is happening in this nation with the same resolve, determination, and courage. We must not turn to panic or hysteria but instead, volunteer ourselves to fight for this country, to speak out for what is right and what is true, no matter the cost.
Nathan Hale, his patriotism, his fervor, his bravery and resolve —- this is the heart of America. There is no other country whose liberty engenders such patriotism, fervor, bravery and resolve from her citizens. He was able to stand alone for liberty. He needed no one else to know what he stood for.
So, with this, I’ll leave you with Nathan Hale’s last words. Consider them. His words speak volumes about the differences between his day and today.
Could you, or any American, say this? Better yet, would you or any American say this?
“I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”
The Liberty Belle