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