Elgin’s botanical garden was established in 1801.
The initial purpose of this garden was to collect, grow and retain ample supplies of North American herbal medicines. Within a few years of establishing the garden, the ongoing yellow fever epidemic suggested to many that foreign medicinal plants useful for treating fevers had to be added to this garden. By 1803, the first foreign plants were imported and planted.
The following article is one of the first published articles in the medical journals on Elgin’s garden. Over the years, prior to and after the Revolutionary War, Philadelphia and New York City were already in the process of producing special medicinal herb gardens for clinical and research use. After the war, researchers and teachers in the field of medicine at these two schools strengthened their experimental processes, effectively replacing the old time, traditional empirical approach for which the rules of practice were established by the most highly respected writers, often outweighing any of their consequences or outcomes at times.