Papers of John Adams, volume 16

C. W. F. Dumas to John Adams, 3 September 1784 Dumas, C. W. F. Adams, John
From C. W. F. Dumas
Monsieur, Lahaie 3e. 7br. 1784.

La besogne que vous trouverez, ci-joint, c’est à dire la copie & traduction d’une Résolution aussi importante, m’empeche encore de répondre cet ordinaire en détail à votre faveur du 25 du passé, com̃e je me l’etois proposé. Je crois qu’il importe autant que V. E. & Mess. vos Collegues voient cela en passant que le Congrès, pour votre governe.1

Mes respects à Auteuil & à Passy. Je suis avec grand respect & en hâte / De Votre Excellence / Le très-humble & très-obeissant / serviteur

C.w.f. Dumas

La fameuse Caat Mossel, & sa Conseillere intime Zwarte Keet, ou Blak-Keet, sont coffrées à Rotterdam. C’est le premier effet de la Com̃ission à Rotterdam.2 J’écris à notre ami Turq, pour le complimenter de l’entrée de ces Belles dans son Serrail, & je lui recom̃ande de ne pas tout garder pour lui seul, mais de penser que Mr. Visscher est sans Sultane.3 Com̃e elles ont chacune au moins 313 30 łb. de chaque côté par le haut, & le reste à proportion, ils y trouveront leur compte tous les deux.

Sir The Hague, 3 September 1784

The work that you will find enclosed, that is to say the copy and translation of such an important resolution, still prevents me from responding in the usual detail to your letter of the 25th of last month, as I had intended. I believe that it is as important for your excellency and your colleagues to see this for your information as it is for Congress.1

My respects to Auteuil and to Passy. I am with great respect and in haste your excellency’s very humble and very obedient servant

C.w.f. Dumas

The famous Kaat Mossel and her intimate advisor Keet Zwenke, or Blak-Keet, are behind bars at Rotterdam. This is the first effect of the commission at Rotterdam.2 I am writing to our friend the Turk to compliment him on the entry of these beauties into his harem, and I am recommending that he not keep all for himself but remember that Mr. Visscher is without a sultana.3 As each woman has at least thirty pounds atop each side, and the rest in proportion, both men will find there all they need.

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “A S. E. Mr. Adams.”


Dumas enclosed his 3 Sept. letter to the president of Congress, with which he sent the States General’s 30 Aug. resolution in response to the Comte de Barbiano-Belgiojoso’s 23 Aug. memorial to the Dutch plenipotentiaries at Brussels, for which see JA’s 25 Aug. letter to Dumas, note 2, above. The resolution firmly rejected Austrian demands that navigation of the Scheldt River be totally free and that Austrian vessels have access to Dutch ports in Europe and the East and West Indies (PCC, No. 93, III, f. 65–68, 137–140; No. 115B, f. 41, 48–50; Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789 , 3:511–515).


Catharina Mulder, nicknamed Kaat Mossel, was a Rotterdam vendor and inspector of mussels, while Cornelia Toppen, known as Keet Zwenke, ran a secondhand shop and alehouse in the same city. Both women were leaders of Orangist popular resistance among the working class of Rotterdam. In early 1784, after the local Patriot militia was incorporated into the civic guard, Orangist mobs continually harassed the watch, ultimately provoking an incident in which four people were killed and many wounded. An investigatory commission empowered by the States General and backed by a considerable military force arrested Mulder and Toppen for sedition. Dumas kept Congress informed of the course of events throughout the spring and summer (Huygens Institute of Netherlands History, Online Dictionary of Dutch Women,; Wayne Ph. te Brake, Rudolf M. Dekker, and Lotte C. van de Pol, “Women and Political Culture in the Dutch Revolutions,” in Harriet B. Applewhite and Darline G. Levy, eds., Women and Politics in the Age of the Democratic Revolution, Ann Arbor, Mich., 1990, p. 114; Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789 , 3:486, 490, 492, 493, 500, 501, 503, 511).


The identity of “the Turk” has not been determined. Carel Wouter Visscher, pensionary of Amsterdam, although a member of the commission at Rotterdam that arrested Mulder and Toppen, advocated leniency toward the two women, including the immediate termination of criminal proceedings. Visscher married Anna Anthonia van Muiden in 1759 but became a widower ten years later and remained so until his death in 1802 (Gazette d’Amsterdam, 15 Oct. 1784; H. Wildeboer, 314 “Carel Wouter Visscher (1734–1802): Portret van een patriots pensionaris,” in Eenentachtigste jaarboek van het genootschap Amstelodamum, Amsterdam, 1989, p. 140).