Victoria Johnson’s new book American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garen of the Early Republic (Liveright, 2018) is the untold story of Alexander Hamilton’s ― and Aaron Burr’s ― personal physician, whose dream to build America’s first botanical garden inspired the young Republic.
When Dr. David Hosack tilled what is believed to one of the country’s first botanical gardens in the Manhattan soil more than two hundred years ago, he didn’t just dramatically alter the New York landscape; he left a legacy of advocacy for public health and wide-ranging support for the sciences.
A charismatic dreamer admired by the likes of Jefferson, Madison, and Humboldt, and intimate friends with both Hamilton and Burr, the Columbia professor devoted his life to inspiring Americans to pursue medicine and botany with a rigor to rival Europe’s.
Though he was shoulder-to-shoulder with the founding fathers ― and even present at the fatal duel that took Hamilton’s life ― Hosack and his story remain relatively unknown. American Eden chronicles Hosack’s career to reveal the breadth of his impact.
Victoria Johnson is an associate professor of urban policy and planning at Hunter College of the City University of New York, where she teaches on the history of New York City. She has been a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library and a Mellon Visiting Scholar at the New York Botanical Garden.
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