A school teacher, Nathan Hale became a spy for the American rebels during the Revolution. In July 1775, he was commissioned a lieutenant in the Connecticut militia. Hale participated in the siege of Boston and in January 1776 was promoted to captain. A member of Knowlton's Rangers, he was transferred to help defend New York in anticipation of a British invasion.
He volunteered to help secure information about British army plans. With his Yale diploma as credentials, he crossed the British lines on Long Island and obtained the information Gen. Washington needed. On returning to the American lines, he was captured by the British. Gen. Howe had Hale hanged the next morning, September 22, 1776, without a trial. Before his death, Hale is reported to have proclaimed: "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."