This week in history: 1783 Treaty of Paris was signed, Michelangelo’s David Unveiled, and Longest Known Cave Passageway Found. Read more below and dive deeper with The Great Courses Plus.
September 3, 1783 – The American Revolution Ends
Though the British surrendered to the American Colonies in 1781, the American Revolution would not officially be over until this day in 1783, when the Treaty of Paris was signed in Paris, France. American delegates Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, John Adams, and Henry Laurens were present at the treaty signing, which declared the colonies as sovereign entities independent from Great Britain and established what would eventually become the United States of America. The treaty also served to set boundaries between both Great Britain and America, including the return of prisoners of war, and declaring unrestricted access to the Mississippi River by both parties. Historians agree that the treaty was uncommonly generous towards the US, possibly so Great Britain could maintain good trade relations with the former colonies.
Learn more about the Treaty of Paris in A History of the United States, 2nd Edition
September 8, 1504 – Michelangelo’s David Unveiled
On this day in 1504, Renaissance master sculptor Michelangelo would unveil his sculpture David in the public square of the Palazzo della Signoria in Florence, Italy. A massive statue carved from a single block of marble, David is an impressive 17 feet tall and was one of the tallest sculptures in Renaissance Italy. Originally intended to be a statue atop the Florence Cathedral, David’s proportions are slightly off to account for viewing from below, with his head and right hand disproportionately enlarged. The statue remained in the Palazzo della Signoria until 1873, when it was moved indoors to the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, where it resides to this day.
Learn more about the David in Great Artists of the Italian Renaissance
September 9, 1972 – Longest Known Cave Passageway Found in Mammoth Cave National Park
Located in southwestern Kentucky, Mammoth Cave National Park holds the record for the longest cave system in the world. Currently there are 405 surveyed miles of cave passages within the system, with many more miles charted every year as offshoots are explored further. On this day in 1972 a team of speleologists delved into nearby Flint Ridge Cave system to see if it did indeed connect to Mammoth Cave. Patricia Crowther crawled into a tight space to find a connection to a part of Mammoth Cave known as the Cascade Hall. With the link established, Mammoth Cave was declared the record-holder for the longest known cave system. The cave was declared a National Park in 1941 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, and hosts numerous public tours of its extensive passageways.