Sunday, September 30, 2012

If Women Could Have Voted in 1776

What would have happened in our country if women had been franchised at the very start of this so called republic? Hindsight is always 20/20 and of course, we can’t go back and undo the past, we can only learn the lessons from it. Unfortunately, if we don’t soon learn the lessons from our past in this country, we face a future that will continue with all consuming wars on a global level that not only deplete the resources that sustain our physical life but drain the human spirit of any desire to move forward. This is one of the themes of my book “The Peacemaker” available at

The story of “The Peacemaker” begins with a peaceful and prosperous culture that had been created by an Onondaga Chief – Ayonwentah – who had been approached by a person called only The Peacemaker in the Legends of the Iroquois. During this visit by The Peacemaker when Ayonwentah had lost everything including his wife and children due to the never ending wars fought among the various tribes inhabiting one of the richest lands in North America Ayonwentah learned the Great Law of Peace – what it took to build a culture that would guarantee peace and prosperity. Ayonwentah started visiting the warring tribes and preaching this message and soon, the great Iroquois Confederacy was started sometime in the 11th Century. This Confederacy was the most powerful and prosperous group that existed on the North American Continent when the Europeans arrived in the 15th Century. They had the means to drive the “immigrants” out but true to their culture they welcomed them in peace and taught them the principles of peace and prosperity that lead to a thriving culture of “13 fires” included in the council of tribes of the Confederacy. These principles were:

  • Stewardship of the land – taking from the land the resources needed to live but always giving back so that the land would continue to produce. Property rights came from stewardship and natural resources were shared.
  • Empowerment of women – all property passed through the female line because the women were the “keepers of the hearth and home.”
  • Inclusion of women in the government – klan mothers – the eldest female in the extended family appointed all the members to the representative councils and could remove any of the representatives if they violated any of the laws passed by the council. Women also had absolute veto over any decision to go to war.
  • Government by consensus and conflict mediation.
  • Cooperation instead of competition.
  • Sealing the peace with treaties known as covenant chains.

This culture became rich and powerful using these principles. In fact, the Founding Fathers were so impressed with their “democracy” that elements of their government were used as the model for our first government. Unfortunately, the government that called itself a Republic was actually an oligarchy – giving voting rights only to a small group of white males over the age of twenty-one who owned property and accumulated property and resources to build their wealth and influence in the name of “democracy.” Because of this the new country immediately began to build a national treasury controlled by these bankers and create a national military made up of the men who had no vote over whether we went to war or not. When these men got the right to vote, they continued with the policies of “might makes right.” As the Industrial Revolution reached the United States and fortunes began to be made by these men who controlled the property and government, competition for cheap labor began. At the same time, the soil in the South began to wear out, forcing southern land owners to find newer sources of good soil to grow King Cotton.

During this period women began to question the morality of this thing called slavery and became involved in the Abolition Movement. When Lucretia Mott and others attended the Anti-slavery Conference in London in 1848, they were appalled that they were not seated at the Conference nor could they vote. Thus, the Women’s Rights Movement began with the Seneca Falls Conference in 1848. At this conference a Declaration of Women’s Rights was read that was pattered after the “Declaration of Independence.” One of these rights was the right to own property. This right again from the Declaration was that to “secure these rights” (of property) it was imperative that women have the right to vote.

After the Convention another meeting was held in the home of Lucretia Mott to organize the Underground Railroad. These women seeking political power were the voices against slavery and the treatment of the new breed of laborers in northern factories – the newer immigrants put to work building the transportation systems, settling new lands and making this country powerful while fighting in the wars to expand this aggressive government into new lands west of the Mississippi needed for continued growth as the land wore out. Women’s voices went unheard and we finally ended up in a Civil War that was to cost over 700,000 American lives and totally destroy the southern economy of the United States. The women who had organized against slavery now came together to organize for peace, but in order to achieve peace; they once again knew they needed the right to vote. The origins of the Mother’s Day Celebration began with a call in a poem written by Julia Ward Howe at the end of the Civil War which is read at the link below.

At the end of the Indian Wars near the end of the 19th Century America turned its attention to lands overseas and became embroiled in political matters and wars that threatened world peace. The suffragettes continued with their demands for the right to vote in order to abate the threat of global wars. Their cause was ignored and many of the leaders were imprisoned and beaten. Susan B. Anthony spent time in jail and Jane Addams was labeled a communist after the end of World War I for her efforts to feed the millions of hungry people left in war ravaged Europe. Unfortunately, women did not get the right to vote until 1919 after World War I and all of the ramifications that set the stage for yet another global conflict. So, what would the 20th Century look like if women had the right to vote in 1776? We know what it looks like now because they didn’t. If we, as women, want to honor this legacy of the courageous women who gave “their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor” for the cause of peace, we need to stand up and say “no” in a loud voice to war or any policies that would deplete the earth’s abilities to sustain life. We, as women, are the “keepers of the hearth” first.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Great Law of Peace

The Great Law of Peace
Xlibris Press Release

The Peacemaker calls upon the nation to make peace with God, the earth and all mankind. “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9

In this age of technological advancement, do superpower nations really need to enhance their defense systems in preparation of a constantly impending war? Would it not be better to settle all of our differences and make peace with everyone? Author Brenda Duffey explores the concept of peace and the many battles fought over land, pride and religion in a book that serves as a wake-up call for all: The Peacemaker.

A tale spinning centuries with a wealth of historical facts, The Peacemaker takes readers through time through the history of the United States and the events that made it the nation it is today. From the treaties with the Native Americans to the colonization of a new land, from the evolution of a country to the outcome of a myriad of races striving to become one, this book presents a story of love and hope. Delve into this generational saga that spans over 300 years of American history as the nation struggles to return to the principles of peace on which it was founded but lost sight of in the 21st Century. For more information or to order your copy visit The book is available in traditional hard and soft cover as well as in digital form.

About the Author

Brenda Duffey was born in Jefferson County, Kentucky in 1946 – the first of the so-called baby boomers born at the end of World War II. The parents who had witnessed the horrors of a Second World War that introduced the threat of a nuclear holocaust wanted better for their children who would grow up in the 50’s with the constant threat of the evils of communism and nuclear holocaust. This time period had a profound effect on Ms. Duffey as she moved into adolescence with a strong desire to understand politics, freedom and peace and connect it to her own upbringing in a rural Kentucky family.

Ms. Duffey’s family was typically large and poor. She was raised on Kentucky fried chicken on Sundays after church and learned the philosophy of the conservative Bible-Belt region. Ms. Duffey received her BA degree in 1967 from a small Baptist college – Kentucky Southern – that is now part of the University of Louisville. She received her MSW from the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville in 1986. Part of the simple, homespun philosophy espoused by her father was hard work and “pulling oneself up by the boot straps” through education and hard work. This is why she decided to enter the field of public education after receiving her BA with endorsements in history and English.

Ms. Duffey has spent over twenty-five years in the classroom in a variety of educational settings from Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, and New Mexico and in Oregon where she retired in 2003. Her focus was always on helping students from diverse ethnic groups and economic statuses attain competence in English communication – both written and oral- and to understand themselves and their connection to American society by understanding their individual pasts and collective heritage. The idea for The Peacemaker originated in 1997 when she was teaching a course in Native American history at Chemawa Indian School in Salem, Oregon. Ms. Duffey still resides in Oregon in the beautiful town of Florence nestled among the sand dunes of south central Oregon. She has two biological daughters who live in southern California and one adopted daughter who lives in Kentucky with Ms. Duffey’s delightful grandchildren.   

For more information on The Peacemaker or Ms. Duffey’s philosophy visit

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Homespun Wisdom - Matthew 7:5

Matthew 7:5

“Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye, then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

My mother used this “Bible” verse all the time when she wanted to make a point about accountability. The great thing about my mother was that her understanding of the Word, as she called it, came from a very intimate spiritual connection to God. The “Bible,” especially the New Testament was my parents’ self-help book, source of inspiration and enlightenment and primer for child rearing. Neither parent had the Word revealed to them by some school of Theology or even a pastor who interpreted it for them. Their understanding came through constant contact with God in sincere prayer to have the way of life revealed to them so that they could not only enter into Heaven upon death but to make their life’s journey better and overcome issues of poverty, racism, abusive parents and alcohol addiction.

Although we remained poor, my mother never took a victim’s stance nor blamed others for our lot in life. She did what she had to do and always focused on providing a home with all the basic necessities for us children. Her children were her joy and life’s greatest blessing. After making sure we had the basics, extra money went for luxuries like school supplies and Christmas lights and treats. There were times when there was nothing left over, but we were taught to be grateful for what we had.

“Our daily bread” came from what Mom grew in the garden or from the grocery store.
My mother and father were paid weekly, so every Friday she went to the store and bought all the food we would need for our “three squares” each day for the upcoming week. In the summer, when food was more plentiful, we picked wild blackberries and strawberries. We picked the apples and pears from the trees that grew in our yard. Mom made delicious cobblers and fried apple pies and canned jams and jellies. She also bought bushels of peaches and canned those. She canned green beans, pickled beets and made sauerkraut. In the winter when Daddy was unemployed due to seasonal work, we ate well from the well stocked pantry and freezer.

We played hide and seek, tag, swinging statues, lemonade and red rover. We walked to the library and checked out books. We played marbles, jacks and sang and watched television for entertainment. In the winter we weren’t bored; we were too busy doing homework or helping with chores.

We eventually were able to buy the small shotgun house on the lower west side of Louisville, but even when we rented, our home was always clean and neat. My mother and father were always accountable for providing for their six children. This was a source of pride for them. Growing up on this “Bible” verse and seeing it lived helped me to learn to look to myself. Learning accountability and responsibility paved the way for a scholarship to college and a successful academic and teaching career. I have had many challenges along the way that I could have attributed to the work of someone else and become a victim, but my mother’s words of wisdom always surfaced to remind me to look at my part in creating the challenges and focus on fixing that before I tried to fix someone else. This homespun wisdom has served me well.