Colden, Cadwallader (DNB00)
COLDEN, CADWALLADER (1688–1776), botanist, author, and lieutenant-governor of New York, son of the Rev. Alexander Golden, was born at Dunse in Scotland, of which place his father was minister, on 17 Feb. 1688. He was educated at the university of Edinburgh, where he took the degree of M.D. in 1705, and then went to the state of Pennsylvania, where he practised his profession from 1708 to 1715. In the latter year he returned to England, where he published his first scientific work on 'Animal Secretions,' and after a short visit to Scotland he went back again to Pennsylvania in 1716. In 1718 he removed to New York, and in the following year commenced his official life, when he was appointed the first surveyor-general of the colony of New York and a master in chancery by Governor Hunter. In 1720 he was made a member of the king's council by Governor Burnet, and from that time his life was divided between politics and science. His most interesting, but least scientific, work was his ' History of the Five Indian Nations of Canada,' published in 1727, which passed through several editions. Of his medical works the best known are his 'Account of Diseases prevalent in America,' 1736, and his ' Essay on the Cause and Remedy of the Yellow Fever so fatal at New York in 1743 ;' and his devotion to pure science is shown by his ' Treatise on Gravitation ' (1745), subsequently enlarged andrepublished as ' Principles of Action in Matter, with a Treatise annexed on the Elements of Fluxions or Differential Calculus.' But his favourite study was botany ; he introduced the Linnæan system into America only a few months after its publication in Europe, and he sent a description of between three hundred and four hundred American plants to Linnæus, who published it in the ' Acta Upsaliensia ' (1743), and who in recognition of his correspondent's energy called a new genus of plants the Coldenia. Besides writing to Linnæus, Golden regularly corresponded with the most eminent men of science, both in Europe and America, such as Lord Macclesfield, Gronovius, and Benjamin Franklin, and enjoyed a great reputation among his contemporaries. Golden rose to the rank of senior member of council, and in that capacity administered the government before the arrival of Governor George Clinton, whom he received and inducted into office in July 1748. About 1755 he received a large grant of lands some nine miles from Newburgh on the Hudson, where he was exposed to Indian attacks, and from that time he only lived at New York for part of the year. In politics he was a strong royalist and partisan of prerogative ; he was never tired of inveighing against the democratic lawyers, and he even went so far as to propose the establishment of an hereditary council of landholders in the colony of New York, who should have similar legislative powers to the English House of Lords. His principles naturally made him popular with the English authorities, and after administering the government as president in 1760 he was appointed lieutenant-governor of the colony of New York in 1761. As lieutenant-governor he had to administer the government upon the death or during the absence of a governor, and during one of these periods, in October 1765, the stamped paper made necessary by Grenville's Stamp Act reached New York. The official distributor of stamps refused to receive it, so Golden swore to issue it himself, and retired with it to Fort George, where he strengthened himself with a garrison of marines. The people of New York assembled to protest against it, and Golden ordered the marines to fire upon them, but in vain. The people, however, satisfied themselves with seizing his carriages, dragging them in torchlight procession through the town, and finally burning them with effigies of Golden himself and the devil on the bowling-green of New York (Bancroft, History of the United States of America, iii. 521). The old man once or twice administered the government again, but in 1775, after the Declaration of Independence and the return of Governor Tryon, he retired to his seat on Long Island, where he died on 28 Sept. 1776. Golden left many manuscripts behind him, including a series of meteorological observations, a daily register of the barometer and thermometer during the greater part of his residence in America, and memoirs on vital movement, the properties of light, the intelligence of animals, and the phenomena attaching to the mixture of metals. A. Garden describes him as 'a truly great philosopher and very great and ingenious botanist.' Colden's son was a distinguished mathematician and natural philosopher, and his grandson, a well-known lawyer, was for some time a senator for the state of New York in the congress of the United States.
[Drake's Dict. of American Biog. ; Bancroft's Hist, of the United States of America; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. v. 484.]