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Who Is That Man, Anyway?
Subject: Nathan Hale
Sculptor: Bela L. Pratt
Location: Federal Triangle
( Constitution Ave. & 9th )
Nathan Hale (1755-1776) was a Connecticut schoolteacher before the Revolution. He volunteered for the Continental Army and was commissioned an officer.
The British were expected to invade New York by sea and volunteers were sought to serve as spies to report back on their movements. None of the trained military personnel would volunteer for the duty, knowing that captured spies are hanged without delay. Despite its danger, Hale volunteered for the duty.
He successfully spied on the British in New York while disguised as a schoolteacher but was betrayed by his cousin on his way back to headquarters. General Howe gave orders for his execution.
He is portrayed here, hands and feet bound, as he appeared on the gallows when he made the statement that has lived on in American history: "I regret that I have but one life to give for my country."
The statue originally stood in front of Hale's birthplace in Connecticut. It was rescued and restored by a New York attorney who left it in his will to the U.S. Government. It was rededicated in this spot in 1945.
Photos and text copyright © 2001 Jean K. Rosales and Michael R. Jobe, All Rights Reserved
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