White Eyes was a leader of the Delaware Indians. His Indian name was Koquethagechton. Due to his fair coloring, he was known to the settlers and frontiersmen as White Eyes. The date of his birth is unknown, but it is estimated to be about 1730. By 1762, he was living in a Delaware town south of Pittsburgh. He moved to the Ohio Country prior to the American Revolution.
In 1776, White Eyes replaced Newcomer as the principal leader of the Delawares. He used his influence among the Delawares to consolidate his people and settle in Ohio. The Delawares settled near present-day Coshocton. White Eyes also used his influence to encourage the Indians to make peace with the white settlers, including missionaries from the Moravian Church who settled near the Delawares in the 1770s.
The Delawares selected White Eyes to represent them before the Continental Congress in 1776. Congress officially thanked him for promoting peace between the natives and the settlers. He received three hundred dollars and two horses with saddles and bridles. White Eyes agreed that, in the event of war with the British, the Delawares would aid the Americans. He also proposed that the Congress allow the Delawares to form the fourteenth state of the newly independent America.
In 1778, the Continental Congress commissioned White Eyes 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 Delaware Indians, and the Indians became further alienated from the Americans. While most Delawares had remained neutral in the conflict to this point, many now actively assisted the English.
- 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.