I Spy With My Little Eye a Spy

I Spy With My Little Eye a Spy

Statue of Nathan Hale in City Park in Lower Manhattan

They are some of the most famous words in American history, words that American schoolchildren learn early on: “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” So said American Revolutionary spy Nathan Hale just before he was hanged by the British in New York City on Sept. 22, 1776. Hale, a patriot and martyr to the Colonial cause. infiltrated enemy lines on an intelligence-gathering mission for the Continental Army, was captured by the British, who then held the city, and was hanged for treason without trial.

Every year, the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York, a patriotic organization whose members trace their ancestry to Colonial soldiers who fought for independence from British rule, commemorates Hale on the day of his execution with a color guard and wreath laying ceremony at the Nathan Hale statue (an imposing, if idealized 13-foot-tall standing figure), located on the lawn facing City Hall’s entrance plaza in Lower Manhattan. The event, which this year marks the 240th anniversary of Hale’s death, is the centerpiece of the museum’s “Spy Week” and is held between noon and 1 pm on Sept. 22. The public is invited.

Throughout “Spy Week,” Sept. 19-23, “Revolutionary Spies Tours” are held Monday thru Friday at 2 pm daily in Fraunces Tavern Museum itself, which is maintained by the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York. Artifacts and paintings from the museum’s collection of pertaining to Hale and other Revolutionary era spies, such as Benjamin Tallmadge and Lydia Darrah, are on display. Highlights include a spymaster’s tools of his trade and the last-known letter written by Nathan Hale to his brother, Enoch Hale, dated Aug. 20, 1776. Tours are free with museum admission (see below).

Fraunces Tavern Museum’s “Spy Week” concludes on Sept. 23 with a lecture at 6:30 pm given by historian Damien Cregeau titled “Spies, Lies and Alibis: Spies and Spy Tradecraft in and Around New York During the American Revolution.” Cregeau is expected to talk about the Culper Spy Ring and that other New York man of the hour, Alexander Hamilton. Tickets are $10.

Fraunces Tavern Museum preserves and interprets New York City history, from the Colonial period to the Revolution to the early Republic.

The museum is located at 54 Pearl St., 212.425.1778, www.frauncestavernmuseum.org; Monday-Friday noon-5 pm, Saturday and Sunday 11 am-5 pm; $7 adults, $4 seniors (65+), students and children 6-14, children under 5 and active military free

Entrance to Fraunces Tavern Museum