Koquethagechton was a prominent Lenape leader. He was also known by the English name "White Eyes" -- purportedly, due to his fair complection. Koquethagechton's date of his birth is unknown, but it is estimated to be about 1730. By 1762, he was living in a Lenape town south of Pittsburgh. He moved to the Ohio Country prior to the American Revolution.
In 1776, Koquethagechton replaced Newcomer as the principal Lenape leader. He used his influence among the Lenape to consolidate his people and settle in Ohio. The Lenape settled near present-day Coshocton. Koquethagechton also used his influence to encourage the Lenape to make peace with the white settlers, including missionaries from the Moravian Church who settled near the Delawares in the 1770s.
The Lenape selected Koquethagechton to represent them before the Continental Congress in 1776. Congress officially thanked him for promoting peace between the American Indians and the settlers. He received three hundred dollars and two horses with saddles and bridles. Koquethagechton agreed that, in the event of war with the British, the Lenape would aid the Americans. He also proposed that the Congress allow the Lenape to form the fourteenth state of the newly independent America.
In 1778, the Continental Congress commissioned Koquethagechton as a lieutenant colonel in the American army. While serving as a guide for the Continental Army in the Ohio Country, he died a suspicious death. Some historians believe that an unknown assailant murdered him. Others scholars contend that Continental soldiers killed him accidentally. Yet other historians held that he died from smallpox.
Upon his death, pro-British forces gained greater influence with the Lenape, and the Ohio Lenape became further alienated from the Americans. While most Lenape had remained neutral in the conflict to this point, many now turned to assisting the British.
- Barrett, Carole, Harvey Markowitz, and R. Kent Rasmussen, eds. American Indian Biographies. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, 2005.
- Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.