So, I just finished reading a book about Nathan Hale, and I have a lot of feelings.
Most people just know Nathan Hale as America’s first spy, and that he was caught and hanged. We were taught that he said he regretted he had “but one life to lose for my country”, and don’t go any deeper. Turns out, Nathan Hale was actually a precious cinnamon roll. Here’s my top five reasons why.
- He was among the first to teach girls in the colonies.
This would have been before the word “feminism” existed. True, it was mostly because he was a broke college graduate and needed money, but still!
- He and his best friend used nicknames.
Nathan Hale and Benjamin Tallmadge started calling each other Pythias and Damon, besties from Greek mythology, while they were in college together. This continues after they both graduated.
Also, after Nathan’s death, Tallmadge went on to become Washington’s spymaster and helped to form the Culper Ring. Because best friends don’t let each other die in vain.
- He used his wages as a captain to supplement the wages of his men.
Winter was rough for the American Revolution, man. There was never enough food, Congress kept failing to deliver on their promises (shocker, right?) and soldiers weren’t signing up for more. So, Nathan Hale divided his officer’s wages between the men under his command in an attempt to make them stay. Basically, he only cared about gaining freedom for his country, but understood not everyone can survive on ideals alone.
- He probably would have had mad soccer skills.
You know, if he’d ever had the chance to play soccer. Apparently, a few days before he set out on his ill-fated mission, Hale kicked a ball over some trees. It was impressive enough to write it down, so…
- He volunteered for a job literally no one else wanted.
Everyone knew that spying was a necessary part of war, but it was the part no one wanted. Not only were spies hanged without trial upon discovery, it was considered dishonorable work. But did that stop America’s version of Enjolras? Not in the slightest!
As far as we know, the only people who didn’t at least respect Hale when they met him were the man who caught him, Robert Rogers, and the man who hanged him, William Cunningham. And honestly, that speaks more to the quality of their characters than to the quality of Hale’s.
There are many more aspects of Nathan Hale’s life and character that make him so much more than a failed spy. This man will forever hold a place among my historical crushes.