The Accidental Republic — Let's Nerd Out

Two years ago I published an essay about how democracy emerged in France in the 1870s even though everything seemed stacked in favor of another monarchy.

Titled “The Accidental Republic,” it drew on several books I had read about that period in French history and politics. I particularly appreciated the several ironic developments that led to the French Third Republic.

Fast forward to the present. I was asked to give a 15-minute talk for a local event called “Let’s Nerd Out,” put on by “The Nerds of the Twin Cities.” Given all the recent discussion for some reason about the foundations of democracy, I thought it could be relevant (and easier) to just adapt the essay into a talk.

So I filled out the essay with some charts and pictures and gave the talk on Jan. 10, 2017 at the Nomad World Pub in Minneapolis.

I’m not the most natural public speaker but it seemed to go off reasonably well.

Below is a video of the presentation. It skips a little near the start, but settles in. I’m the middle of three presentations; if it doesn’t start with me, skip to about 37:30. (Or watch the other presentations too!)

I’ve also attached the slide deck I used.

The Accidental Republic from David Montgomery

Note: I’ve updated the slide deck since the presentation version to correct one mistake. The final chart in the presentation as delivered omitted a group of 49 unaffiliated delegates from the 1878 French National Assembly. This doesn’t change the bigger picture but the slide deck uploaded above corrects the error.

You can view the R code I used to create the graphs at my Github page.