Rewind: Revolutionary Fire/The End of Nathan Hale

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On the occasion of the 245th anniversary of the Revolutionary War in New York City, we revisit the story of the Great Fire of 1776, the drumbeat of war leading up to the disaster, and the tragic story of the American patriot Nathan Hale.

This is a reedited, remastered version of an episode that we recorded in 2015.

A little after midnight on September 21, 1776, the Fighting Cocks Tavern on Whitehall Street caught on fire. The drunken revelers inside the tavern were unable to stop the blaze, and it soon raged into a dangerous inferno, spreading up the west side of Manhattan.

Some reports state that the fire started accidentally in the tavern fireplace. But was it actually set on purpose -- on the orders of George Washington?

Meanwhile, underneath this sinister story is another, smaller drama -- that of a young man on a spy mission, sent by Washington into enemy territory. His name was Nathan Hale, and his fate would intersect with the disastrous events of that perilous night.

PLUS: The legacy of St. Paul's Chapel, a lasting reminder not only of the Great Fire of 1776 but of an even greater disaster which occurred almost exactly 225 years later.

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