American Eden | Lecture by Victoria Johnson

October 5, 2018 - 5:30pm

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

This illustrated lecture by historian Victoria Johnson features her acclaimed new book, American Eden (Liveright/W. W. Norton, 2018), which both the Wall Street Journal and Ron Chernow (Alexander Hamilton) have called “captivating.” When Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr met on a dueling ground in July 1804, they chose the same attending physician: David Hosack. Family doctor and friend to both men, Hosack is today a shadowy figure at the edge of a famous duel, the great achievements of his life forgotten. But in 1801, on twenty acres of Manhattan farmland, Hosack founded the first public botanical garden in the new nation, amassing a spectacular collection of medicinal, agricultural, and ornamental plants that brought him worldwide praise from the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Sir Joseph Banks, and Alexander von Humboldt. Hosack used his pioneering institution to train the next generation of American doctors and naturalists and to conduct some of the first pharmaceutical research in the United States. Today, his former garden is the site of Rockefeller Center. The New York Times writes, “Hosack’s Columbia lectures were…‘as good as the theater,’ and so is Johnson’s storytelling.”

Victoria Johnson is an associate professor of Urban Policy and Planning at Hunter College in New York City. Before joining Hunter College, she taught at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for thirteen years. She has been a Fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library and a Mellon Visiting Scholar at the New York Botanical Garden. She earned her undergraduate degree in philosophy from Yale University and her PhD in sociology from Columbia University. 

Copies of American Eden will be available for purchase. 

The Reading Room will close to researchers at 3:30pm.