Hale, named Connecticut’s state hero after being executed by British forces in 1776, is honored with a statue by noted artist (and fellow Yale alum) Bela Lyon Pratt.
The statue depicts Hale just before his hanging in New York City. His last words, “I only regret that I have but one life to give to my country,” is inscribed at the monument’s base. An inscription on the monument’s front (northeast) face reads, “Nathan Hale, 1755-1776. Class of 1773”
The statue was dedicated in 1914 outside Connecticut Hall, where Hale lived during his time at Yale. The statue originally stood closer to the building and faced southeast, but was later moved to a position between Connecticut and Welch halls.
Since we have no portraits of Hale from his lifetime, the statue is based on descriptions written after his death.
Replicas of the Yale statue are on display at New Haven’s Fort Nathan Hale, the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virgina, the Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry, the Connecticut Governor’s Mansion in Hartford and several other locations.
Hale is also honored with a monument in his hometown of Coventry (where officials plan to dedicate a new statue this year) as well with a statue and schoolhouse in New London, a bust and schoolhouse in East Haddam, and a statue in the state capitol.
Since Yale graduates played a significant role both in the CIA and the Office of Strategic Services that preceded it, there are a number of online rumors suggesting the CIA replaced the Yale statue with a copy so it could display the original in Virginia. Considering you could spend months reading all of the online rumors about Yale alums conspiring to control the world, we’re discounting the alleged statue-swap reports.