Statues of Nathan Hale

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Statues of Nathan Hale
Emily Parsons
Deputy Director and Curator
September 22, 2023

“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” The words Nathan Hale is said to have uttered just before being hanged as a spy by the British are among the best remembered of the Revolution. The young schoolteacher-turned-officer-turned-spy was a hero to nineteenth-century Americans, but they didn’t know what he looked like, as no contemporary likeness survived. Then two American sculptors working at the turn of the twentieth century imagined Nathan Hale in bronze statues. The vision of the young hero expressed by Frederick MacMonnies and Bela Lyon Pratt has shaped the way Americans have imagined Hale for more than a century. Deputy Director and Curator Emily Parsons examines three important sculptures of Hale in the Institute’s collections in a presentation given on the 247th anniversary of his death.