Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Spring 3-12-2021


Althouse, J. 2021. A Historical Analysis of the Causes of the French and Indian War. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Jake Althouse 2021.


The current study attempted to answer the following research question: what were the causes of the French and Indian War between Great Britain and France in 1754? To do so, the current study researched secondary sources from a historical perspective, political theories regarding the causes of war, and primary sources from individuals involved in the build-up to conflict. Previous research by historians and political scientists have mainly attributed the causes of the French and Indian War to a security dilemma and the spiral theory of war. The current study does not support this assertion. Instead, the current study asserts that because of asymmetric information, the presence of an indivisible issue, and brinkmanship, bargaining failed and conflict began between Great Britain and France. Britain and France both took offensive measures to strengthen their positions in North America and counter their adversaries' movements prior to the start of the French and Indian War. At the same time, the presence of asymmetric information regarding the enemy’s resolve and strength due to poor intelligence, an indivisible issue in the Ohio region, and the hard-line stances from politicians on both sides hindered effective negotiations to stop the escalating conflict. As a result, given these pre-existing conditions, negotiations between Britain and France were bound to fail and war between Britain and France was destined to break out in North America.