by Rosemary Davis
Sharon Historical Society, Sharon
How did Sharon, Connecticut, manufacturers A. A. Hotchkiss and Sons contribute to major innovations in U.S. history?
- What inventions patented by the Hotchkiss family were used throughout the United States?
- What industries existed in Sharon, Connecticut, that made it a good place to manufacturer hardware such as home and farm items?
- What major war in U.S. history used a Hotchkiss invention and led to the Hotchkiss factory moving out of Sharon, Connecticut? Why was it necessary to leave Sharon?
Things you will need to teach this lesson.
Students can examine the Hotchkiss inventions in the context of more in-depth questions, such as:
- Is America a land of political, economic, and social opportunity?
- What was the significance of Connecticut’s contribution to America’s story?
Students can also use the inventions and the larger story of the Hotchkiss company moving from Sharon to analyze reasons for economic growth in Connecticut in the 19th century and ways that Connecticut contributed to the growth and expansion of the nation. Evaluate the history of individual cities and towns in the 19th century and analyze reasons for economic and/or social change in individual towns during this period.
Students could engage in a debate about the role of innovation in war time. Students could also create a presentation examining the Hotchkiss inventions from geographical (Why was Sharon a good place for innovation?), social (How did farm and home hardware improve everyday life?), and political (What was the contribution of the Hotchkiss shell to the Civil War?) perspectives.