David Hosack was born in New York in 1769 and in a book about him by Kerri Miller, she states that he is responsible for the establishment of New York’s first botanical garden. There was an interview by Victoria Johnson on NPR that drew my attention to this.
Hosack was a brilliant medical scientist who focused on medicinal plants. The Bartrams, earlier on, grew medicinal plants in their gardens in Philadelphia, but Hosak was the first to grow these plants in North America for scientific research purposes.
Dr. Hosack studied medicine in both London and Edinburgh and then returned to North America to teach and practice at Columbia College in New York City. In London he had been trained in the classification of plants using the system developed by Linnaeus in the 18th Century. Miller describes in her biography how Hosack met Joseph Banks and other famous plant scientists in London in the early 1800s and became knowledgeable about European plants and their medicinal properties.
When he returned to New York he realized the need for a public garden as a research facility for medical scientists and their students. He even wrote to President Jefferson to ask for plants gathered by the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Later he became the personal physician of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. He used his own money, and later went in to debt, to buy and maintain 20 acres on Manhattan Island to grow plants, including many natives that had not been known abroad, in order to study and teach students about their medicinal effects. His garden was the first scientific garden established on our shores.