The first complete biography of Cadwallader Colden (1688-1776), the longest-serving Lieutenant Governor of New York and a brilliant intellectual, multifaceted colonial Renaissance man, and consummate royalist.
This is the first complete biography of Cadwallader Colden (1688-1776), one of the most accomplished intellectual and political figures in the American colonies before the Revolution. As the longest-serving Lieutenant Governor of New York he was intimately involved in the tumultuous political life of the times. His History of the Five Indian Nations (1727) was the first English history of the Iroquois and a popular book both in the colonies and in Europe.
Colden was also a trained physician. Though he never practiced, he significantly improved the public health of the colony. Furthermore, he was an internationally recognized botanist, the author of the first scientific paper published in the colonies, and an accomplished cartographer who published the first map in the colony of New York.
A prolific letter writer, Colden corresponded with many of the major intellectuals of his day, including Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Johnson. In addition, he wrote extensively on a wide range of topics, including philosophy, history, the natural sciences, and mathematics.
Why has this distinguished individual fallen into obscurity? As an ardent royalist he was the most vilified of the colonial leaders and was even burned in effigy. This well-researched and long-overdue biography tells the fascinating story of this multifaceted colonial Renaissance man.
"An interesting, engaging, and readable biography of a central—but much overlooked—early American philosopher, scientist, and politician. This is the only comprehensive study of Colden’s personal and political life, and it should help to bring new attention to a man who was called ‘the most learned . . . in the [British] Colonies.’”
—Scott L. Pratt, professor of philosophy, University of Oregon, coeditor of The Philosophical Writings of Cadwallader Colden
“Cadwallader Colden is a colonial American intellectual and political figure whose contributions need to be much better known and regarded. Seymour Schwartz has written an important, readable, and carefully documented account of Colden’s life that should go far in enabling that to happen. Those of us who care about our understanding of American colonial history and thought are in Professor Schwartz’s debt.”
—John Ryder, provost, American University of Ras Al Khaimah, coeditor of The Philosophical Writings of Cadwallader Colden
“Working from a vast array of archival sources, Seymour I. Schwartz has meticulously chronicled the fascinating story of Cadwallader Colden, the brilliant but often-overlooked polymath of the American Enlightenment.”
—Valerie Paley, PhD, historian and vice president for Scholarly Programs, New-York Historical Society