American Eden

American Eden

David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic

eBook - 2018
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The untold story of Hamilton's—and Burr's—personal physician, whose dream to build America's first botanical garden inspired the young Republic. On a clear morning in July 1804, Alexander Hamilton stepped onto a boat at the edge of the Hudson River. He was bound for a New Jersey dueling ground to settle his bitter dispute with Aaron Burr. Hamilton took just two men with him: his "second" for the duel, and Dr. David Hosack. As historian Victoria Johnson reveals in her groundbreaking biography, Hosack was one of the few points the duelists did agree on. Summoned that morning because of his role as the beloved Hamilton family doctor, he was also a close friend of Burr. A brilliant surgeon and a world-class botanist, Hosack—who until now has been lost in the fog of history—was a pioneering thinker who shaped a young nation. Born in New York City, he was educated in Europe and returned to America inspired by his newfound knowledge. He assembled a plant collection so spectacular and diverse that it amazes botanists today, conducted some of the first pharmaceutical research in the United States, and introduced new surgeries to American. His tireless work championing public health and science earned him national fame and praise from the likes of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander von Humboldt, and the Marquis de Lafayette. One goal drove Hosack above all others: to build the Republic's first botanical garden. Despite innumerable obstacles and near-constant resistance, Hosack triumphed when, by 1810, his Elgin Botanic Garden at last crowned twenty acres of Manhattan farmland. "Where others saw real estate and power, Hosack saw the landscape as a pharmacopoeia able to bring medicine into the modern age" (Eric W. Sanderson, author of Mannahatta). Today what remains of America's first botanical garden lies in the heart of midtown, buried beneath Rockefeller Center. Whether collecting specimens along the banks of the Hudson River, lecturing before a class of rapt medical students, or breaking the fever of a young Philip Hamilton, David Hosack was an American visionary who has been too long forgotten. Alongside other towering figures of the post-Revolutionary generation, he took the reins of a nation. In unearthing the dramatic story of his life, Johnson offers a lush depiction of the man who gave a new voice to the powers and perils of nature.
Publisher: 2018
ISBN: 9781631494208
Call Number: OverDrive ebook
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


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A remarkably well-connected and influential botanist (present at the Hamilton-Burr duel), Hosack created a scientific garden for his medical investigations.

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IndyPL_AnikaW Dec 04, 2018

Buried under NYC's Rockefeller Center lie the remains of the first major botanical garden assembled in the United States, the Elgin.

Carefully crafted and designed by David Hosack (personal physician to Alexander Hamilton and present at the legendary and fateful duel with Aaron Burr), the gardens were a gargantuan and expensive wonder of the new Republic and helped to tie the natural history of the USA with the fledgling field of medicine.

Hosack championed naturalism during the romantic era...a generation of thinkers often forgotten due to the influence of later writers and philosophers such as Henry David Thoreau. But everyone stands on the shoulders of those who came before, and Johnson's biography is both an elegy to the Elgin garden as well as the man who created them.

Readers who enjoy well-researched American history will find much to devour. And those who are fans of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton will find interesting tidbits scattered throughout this well-illustrated volume. Gardeners and naturalists will find this title especially difficult to put down.


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