The National Tropical Botanical Garden is the only tropical botanical garden with a charter from the United States Congress. Federal charters for private nonprofit entities, such as the NTBG charter, have been granted by Congress only rarely and then only in the circumstance that a compelling case has been made to the Congress that the proposed organization will serve an important national and public need.
History of the Charter
In the early 1960s a group of forward-thinking individuals recognized the need for a tropical botanical garden on U.S. soil. An impressive group of organizations and individuals banded together to form a foundation with the purpose of ensuring that such a garden was established and with the objective that the Congress of the United States should issue the charter for this institution.
An extensive investigation was conducted before the bill was presented for vote. This included a feasibility study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture; a hearing before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives; reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the United Sates Department of Interior and other federal agencies and offices; reports to the members of Congress endorsing the legislation from the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives and from the Judiciary Committee of the Senate.
In August 1964 the legislature enacted Public Law 88-449, chartering by Act of Congress the Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden. The bill, when first introduced, proposed the name “National Tropical Botanical Garden.” However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggested as one of its alternatives the name “Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden.” Subsequently, in 1988, the Congress amended the chartering legislation to change the name to “National Tropical Botanical Garden,” since by then the Garden had established a presence on the south Florida coast.
House Report No. 1635 (Comm. on the Judiciary)
Senate Report No. 234 (Comm. on the Judiciary)
Congressional Record, Vol. 110 (1964):
July 23: Passed Senate.
Aug. 3: Considered and passed house, amended.
Aug. 6: Senate concurred in House amendments.
Act to Change Name:
House Reports: No. 100-103.4 (Comm. on the Judiciary)
Congressional Record, Vol. 134 (1988)
Oct. 5: Considered and passed House.
Oct. 12: Considered and passed Senate.