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The History of the Five Indian Nations of Canada
Which are dependent on the Province of New York

Which are dependent on the Province of New York, and are a Barrier between the English and the French in that part of the world by the Hon. Cadwallader Colden in two volumes (1904)


Dr. Cadwallader Colden, Surveyor General of the Province of New York, was the first resident of New York to gain foreign recognition by his literary labors. His writings dealt with the sciences, philosophy, and mathematics as well as history. He was a correspondent of Benjamin Franklin in this country and of Linnaeus and many scientists and learned societies abroad. In his trans-Atlantic reputation he stood alone so far as New York was concerned, and his attainments obviously imparted a distinctive and enduring value to his contemporary account of the famous Iroquois, the "History of the Five Indian Nations," which has long since taken rank as a historical classic.

Cadwallader Colden was born in Scotland in 1687, and practiced medicine in Philadelphia until 1718, when, on the invitation of Governor Hunter of New York, he became the Surveyor-General of the province. A few years later he visited and studied the Mohawks and was adopted into their tribe. His inclinations and his official life both led toward a study of Indian life which had most important and enduring results. Among his various relations with the Indians was an important mission in 1746, wrhen he visited the Mohawks at the request of Governor George Clinton and held an important council with them at Albany for the purpose of securing their friendship.

The story of Colden's close relationship to the internal politics of Colonial New York may be traced in Mrs. Martha J. Lamb's "History of the City of New York." He was Clinton's adviser. He was at various times chairman and president of the Council, and from 1761 to 1775 he was Lieutenant-Governor. As an ardent royalist he endeavoured to enforce the Stamp Act in the face of an insurmountable opposition threatening to himself and to other royalists. His death occurred on September 28, 1776.

Colden's classic "History of the Five Nations" was one of the most important evidences of the development of intellectual life in the Colonial New York of the middle of the eighteenth century. "More attention had been given to education," writes Mrs. Lamb, in regard to this period. "Libraries and philosophical societies were being formed in various directions; Dr. Colden had just finished a book, the "History of the Five Nations" which was rendering his name famous.

Volume 1  |  Volume 2

Cadwallander Colden
A Representative Eighteenth Century Official by Alice Mapelsden Keys, Ph.D. (1906) (pdf)

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