Colden, Cadwallader

Colden, Cadwallader

(kōl`dən), 1688–1776, colonial scholar and political leader of New York, b. Ireland, of Scottish parents. After studying medicine in London, Colden arrived (1710) in Philadelphia to practice. He moved (1718) to New York, where he was appointed (1720) surveyor general. He was named (1721) to the governor's council and became increasingly influential during the administration of George Clinton (1686–1761), the colonial governor. After 1761 he was lieutenant governor of New York.

Colden was also one of the most learned men in the colonies. He wrote his own critique of Newton, The Principles of Action in Matter (1751). He became a botanist of the new Linnaean system of classifying flora and made significant contributions to medical literature. He also published his History of the Five Indian Nations (1727), a valuable source on the Iroquois tribes. His letter books (1877–78) and letters and papers (7 vol., 1918–23) were published by the New-York Historical Society.

Bibliography

See A. R. Raymond, The Political Career of Cadwallader Colden (1971) and biography by A. M. Keys (1906, repr. 1971).

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Colden, Cadwallader

(1688–1776) physician, scientist, public official; born in Ireland. Of Scotch parentage, he studied at the University of Edinburgh and then studied medicine in London. He came to Philadelphia in 1710 and engaged in business while practicing medicine, then in 1718 moved to New York City where he took on several posts with the British colonial government. He continued to pursue his varied interests and wrote pioneering works about the Native Americans, botany, physics, medical subjects such as cancer and yellow fever, psychology, and mathematics. As New York's lieutenant-governor (1761–75) he was a loyalist; upon refusing to sign a request from certain colonists to repeal the Stamp Act (1765), he was burned in effigy. He did his best to conduct government evenhandedly until the battle of Lexington signaled that history was taking a different course, so he effectively retired to his estate on Long Island.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.