Nathan Hale, Class of 1773 (1755–1776). Hale was one of the first
Americans captured and executed for spying. He had graduated at 18 with first
honors and participated in a commencement debate on “Whether the Education of
Daughters be not, without any just reason, more neglected than that of Sons."
In 1775, the Connecticut schoolteacher enlisted and quickly rose from
lieutenant to captain. In September 1776, Hale was chosen to command a company
in Knowlton’s Rangers and volunteered to spy behind enemy lines. Within weeks
he was captured by the British and hanged, on September 22, 1776. Captain
William Hull, a British officer who attended Hale on the morning of his
execution, recalled that the young American “bore himself with gentle dignity."
From the scaffold Hale reportedly uttered his famous last words: “I only regret
that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
The 1925 stamp bearing his image was the United States' first half-cent
stamp. The stamp’s designer based his portrait on the 1914 statue of Hale on
the Old Campus (by Bela Lyon Pratt ’99BFA).