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.
American Eden Review
- January 1, 1970ShelleyThis is a great view of medical science/practice/botany/pharmacology in the early Republic, and to illustrate how important science was to the founding and next generation. You know, before willful ignorance became popular.
- January 1, 1970AnnaIf you are into history especially medical history. This is the book for you. I learned so many fascinating facts about American medicine from this book. I’ve never actually taken the time to consider how medical advances are made but this book explains a lot about what was happening in the early 1800s in the medical field.more
- January 1, 1970MaryellieAmerican Eden is the story of Dr. Hosack a doctor who believed botany and the study of plants would help medicine. In the late 1700's and 1800's he created a garden in what is now Rockefeller Center. He was doctor to A Hamilton and A Burr. This biography is well worth reading.more
- January 1, 1970KathleenAmerican Eden is a well-researched, readable, compelling history of the life of David Hosack. His life provides an engrossing narrative including descriptions of botany, medicine and political networks in the young United States.
- January 1, 1970Gaby ChapmanThe birth of a nation and one New York City botanist/doctor who dedicated his life to putting medicine and botanical science on a par with the Old World
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