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an acquaintance with the leading literary and scientific men of the day, among others with Dr. Halley, who read a paper of Dr. Colden's on Animal Secretion before the Royal Society ; but his visit was apparently not devoted exclusively to the pursuits of science, as he at this time married Miss Alice Chrystie, daughter of a worthy Scotch clergyman of Kelso, and in 1716 embarked for America with her, resolved to make the colonies his permanent home.
He resumed the practice of his profession in Philadelphia, but having had occasion to visit New York, in 1718, he formed the acquaintance of Governor Hunter, a man of literary accomplishments, and one likely to appreciate the young physician. The Governor was, indeed, so impressed with his merit that he urged him to come to New York, offering him, as an inducement, the office of Surveyor-General of the Colony.
Colden naturally accepted such an advantageous offer, and removed to New York. Hunter not only fulfilled his promise, but bestowed on Colden the apparently unsuitable office of Master in Chancery.
The successor of Hunter was Governor Burnet, a son of the celebrated bishop, who adopted his predecessor's views and friends. Dr. Colden was already esteemed a man of weight, a report of his in relation to an Ac of the Assembly regarding the partition of lands having decided action in regard to it.* It was consequently no matter of surprise that he was, in 1722, called to a feat in the Council, a body of gentlemen selected by the Crown, and forming the upper legislative house in the Colony. Colonel Schuyler, who had been removed on the recommendation of Governor Hunter, gave place to Dr. Colden. Honor was not the only gift bestowed ; a more substantial mark of favor was a grant, in 1720, of two thousand acres of land in what is now the town of Montgomery, Orange County, followed by another of one thousand, which he styled the Manor of Coldengham. This placed him among the great landholders of the Colony.
His name appears in the journals of the Legislative Council from May 30, 1722, to his appointment as Lieutenant-Governor, and during his term of service he was unremitting and zealous in his labors, adhering firmly to the royal governors, and often involved in the dissensions that prevailed among the ruling families, whose petty contentions ended only with the convulsion which swept them into
* His memorial is in the New York Col. Documents, v. 807.
comparative obscurity in the new order of things.
While others sought only to mimic the capital in show and parade, Colden went to work to study the climate, geography, native inhabitants, civil and political interests of the Colony. He was soon regarded as the best informed man on the affairs of the neighboring French colony. By the Indians he was so esteemed that foon after his arrival he was adopted by the Mohawks of Canajoharie. He is spoken of as better versed than any other in the geography of the country, and his writings show that he was an early and careful observer of the climate and its influence on health. It may not be impertinent to add that in 1723 he notices the unhealthiness of the water in New York city, thus calling attention to the necessity of introducing a water less conducive to disease.
He was one of the first to urge the acts passed November 19, 1720, and July, 1722, to prevent New York merchants from supplying Canada with goods for the Indian trade, thus enabling France to control the west and hem in the English colonies. The act was strongly opposed by some New York merchants and the large houses in England concerned in the American trade. But Colden rightly deemed that the greed of a few
unpatriotic' unpatriotic individuals should not outweigh the necessity of securing to the English colonies a direct trade with the West.
To correct errors on the point he drew up several valuable papers-among them, an account of the Trade of New York * and an account of the Climate of New York, both of which Governor Burnet transmitted to England. There the obnoxious acts had led the London merchants, instigated by their New York associates, to address a petition to the king, full of the most egregious errors and falsehoods. I The King in Council referred it to the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, who advised that no directions should be sent to New York till the Governor had seen the petition and sent his reply.
When Governor Burnet received the strange petition he laid it before his Council, who appointed a committee to prepare an answer. The report of the committee, ascribed by Smith and others to Dr. Colden and Mr. Alexander, was a complete answer. It con
* Published in New York Colonial Documents, v. 685.
+ Ib. 690. American Medical and Philosophical Register, vol. i.
Smith’s History of New York. London, 1757, p. 156. S Smith gives it in full in his History.
cluded with a recommendation that the peti*tion and the committee's answer be printed.
This was done, and the documents were issued in 1724, accompanied with “A Memorial concerning the Furr Trade of the Province of New York,” written by Dr. Colden.
Of this pamphlet, a folio printed by Bradford in 1724, I know only one copy, in the possession of Hon. Henry C. Murphy.
“Papers || relating || to an Act of the Assembly | of the Province of New York.ll For encouragement of the Indian Trade, &c., and || for prohibiting the selling of Indian goods to the French, ll viz.: of Canada.”
It is accompanied by the map which is referred to in an advertisement in the work now given.*
These papers were, as we shall see, subsequently reprinted in England. They justified the enlarged views of the Governor of New York, and of his able councillor, who saw the importance of securing the country south of the lakes to England, yet they beheld these statesmanlike views thwarted by men whom present gain blinded to great national interests. The laws were maintained till 1730, when, by some chicanery
* Page xvii, verso.