The Patriotism of Nathan Hale

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The C.I.A. Headquarters in Virginia is a big, concealed campus surrounded by woods. The C.I.A. collects and organizes intelligence. On the C.I.A. website, their primary mission is, “to collect, analyze, evaluate, and disseminate foreign intelligence to assist the President and senior US government policymakers in making decisions relating to national security” (About CIA, 2019). There is only one person that has a statue on the premises. That person is Nathan Hale. C.I.A. employees who pass by this statue understand the risk of spying could be death. The statue also inspires bravery because Nathan Hale was willing to do something dangerous that few people wanted to do. Nathan Hale was a patriotic citizen who was willing to serve and die for his country.

Spying today is acceptable, but in 1776, spying was considered unfit for gentlemen. Back then, scouting in a battlefield was acceptable (Schellhammer, 2013). In August 1776, the Continental Army was forced to retreat from Long Island to Manhattan Island. General Washington was expecting an attack, so he wanted spies to gather intelligence about the British and what they were planning (Koestler-Grack, 2006). George Washington asked Lt. Colonel Thomas Knowlton to recruit a group of men to gather intelligence. There were not many people who wanted to go behind enemy lines. It is reported that one soldier said, “I’m willing to fight the British and, if need be, die a soldier’s death in battle, but as for going among them in disguise and being taken and hung up like a dog, I’ll not do it” (Schellhammer, 2013).

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When Colonel Knowlton asked for someone to spy behind enemy lines, nobody wanted to do the dangerous mission. Nathan Hale then stood forward and announced that he would accept the mission to spy on the British (Tracy, 2007). His friend, and fellow captain in his regiment, William Hull, tried to talk him out of it saying, “Who respects the character of a spy?” (Fleming, 1999). Nathan Hale couldn’t be talked out of it. He wanted his country to be free, and to have liberty. He was only 21 years old, and he had never spied before, but he loved his country. He loved his country so much that he volunteered to join the militia in 1775. A year later, he hadn’t been in any significant action. That was another reason he wanted to spy on the British. He felt that any service for the public good, “becomes honorable by being necessary” (Fleming, 1999).

Nathan Hale didn’t receive any training on how to become a spy. He didn’t use a false name. He tried to pretend to be a Dutch schoolteacher, because before he was a soldier, he was a schoolteacher. He left on September 8, 1776 with his Yale diploma. He was travelling to Long Island to record enemy movements and positions (Nathan Hale, Wikipedia, 2019). On September 21, Hale was captured asking a boatman for a ride. When Nathan Hale was searched, they found his drawings of British positions (Tracy, 2007). Nathan Hale was sent to General Howe. It is reported that General Howe offered a full pardon if Nathan would join the British army, but Nathan refused. He was hanged on September 22, 1776 (Koestler-Grack, 2006). We don’t know what Nathan Hale’s last words were, and some scholars disagree, but on the base if the statue on the C.I.A. campus, it reads, “I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country” (About CIA, 2019).

Nathan Hale was patriotic, and he died for his country’s independence. His patriotism was unshakeable. He was willing to do something many people wouldn’t do, even if he could die. He is a reminder today of the dangers of spying, but the bravery needed to go behind enemy lines.

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The Patriotism of Nathan Hale. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from
“The Patriotism of Nathan Hale.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022,
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