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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1561
AUTHOR: Nathan Hale (1755–76)
QUOTATION: I am not influenced by the expectation of promotion or pecuniary reward. I wish to be useful, and every kind of service necessary for the public good, becomes honorable by being necessary.
ATTRIBUTION: Captain NATHAN HALE, remark to his friend, Captain William Hull, who attempted to dissuade him from volunteering for spy duty, early September 1776.—Isaac William Stuart, Life of Captain Nathan Hale, p. 94 (1856).

While General Washington desperately needed someone to provide information on the strength and location of the enemy, he could not command someone to be a spy. He needed a paid spy or a volunteer. Hale was the sole volunteer. At the end of his mission, Hale was captured by the British and hanged on September 22, 1776. He was twenty-one years old.

See also No. 1304.
SUBJECTS: Public service