–This was Nathan Hale’s last words after he was convicted of espionage, colonial New York. He was executed September 22, 1776. Surprisingly, Captain Nathan Hale was once apart of the 19th Regiment of the Continental Army led by George Washington. He was one of the first known american spies of the Revolutionary War.
Hale pretended to be a British loyalist but was captured after his true identity was revealed. The standards of the time dictated that spies be hanged as illegal combatants. While these are reported to be Hale’s last words, they bear significant resemblance to a line from Cato, a play by George Addison that was popular at the time:
“What a pity it is / That we can die but once to serve our country.”