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The Enlightenment of Cadwallader ColdenEmpire, Science, and Intellectual Culture in British New York$
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John M. Dixon

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780801448034

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801448034.001.0001

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(p.84) Chapter 5 Otium
The Enlightenment of Cadwallader Colden

John M. Dixon

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines Cadwallader Colden's philosophical retirement at Coldgenham, his country residence in the Wallkill Valley sixty miles north of Manhattan. Coldengham fitted nicely with a popular neo-Stoic notion that intellectual activity required seclusion, calm, and quiet. Colden played up that association by repeatedly describing his country life as a comfortable retirement and by comparing his rural ease to the factious politics and competing self-interests of New York City. This chapter considers Colden's country retirement and how the fashionable talk of otium cum dignitate bound together learned Scotsmen in America and legitimized the remote situation of colonial intellectuals, while simultaneously excising the social and political realities of rural British America. It also discusses the ways that mid-century colonial intellectuals used neo-Stoicism to legitimate their provincial situation and concludes by focusing on Colden's friendship with Benjamin Franklin as well as his preoccupation with natural history.

Keywords:   country retirement, Cadwallader Colden, Coldgenham, country life, New York, otium cum dignitate, intellectuals, neo-Stoicism, Benjamin Franklin, natural history

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