David Hosack is an interesting footnote to a chapter of American history, the beloved physician who accompanied the ill-fated Alexander Hamilton to his duel with Aaron Burr in 1804.
But the brilliant surgeon and botanist earned his own fame, assembling a plant collection spectacular even by today’s standards, conducting some of the earliest pharmaceutical research in the U.S., and introducing new surgeries. Hosack also created the country’s first botanical garden, opening the Elgin Botanic Garden in 1810. The grounds lie beneath the Rockefeller Center today.
Historian Victoria Johnson, an associate professor of urban policy and planning at Hunter College in New York, recounts Hosack’s accomplished life in a discussion of her new book American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic.