David Hosack

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See also Wikipedia's article about "David Hosack".

David Hosack was an early Columbia professor of medicine and botany, known for attending to Alexander Hamilton after the duel that ended his life.

Hosack entered Columbia College excited to study art, but soon switched to medicine. He began an apprenticeship at a New York hospital but fled the city after a riot broke out over the hospital's extraction of buried corpses for medical teaching. Hosack finished his education in the seclusion of Princeton, from which he graduated in 1789. He went on to graduate from a medical school in Pennsylvania and practice in Virginia before returning to New York. When he discovered that many doctors had educations obtained abroad, he impressed upon his father to fund a stint at the University of Edinburgh, where Hosack studied botany.

In addition to his care for Hamilton, Hosack's medical career was marked by his masterful stewardship of New York during several outbreaks of yellow fever. Hosack also cultivated America's first botanical garden, the Elgin Botanical Gardens, though it eventually fell into state hands due to lack of funding. The state, in turn, gave the land as a back-handed gift to Columbia, which found the project frivolous and shut it down. The land, known as the Upper Estate, would eventually become the cornerstone of Columbia's endowment when it was commercially developed in the mid-19th century. Today it is the site of Rockefeller Center.

In the meanwhile, Hosack had been appointed (in 1795) a professor of natural history at Columbia, and obtained the chair of "Materia Medica" upon the death of William Pitt Smith in 1797. He later helped found Rutgers' medical department.

At one point, there was a conference room at the Faculty House named in his honor, but this no longer seems to be the case.

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