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John Hancock Otis

by Edgar Lee Masters, 1916

As to democracy, fellow citizens,
 Are you not prepared to admit
 That I, who inherited riches and was to the manner born,
 Was second to none in Spoon River
 In my devotion to the cause of Liberty?
 While my contemporary, Anthony Findlay,
 Born in a shanty and beginning life
 As a water carrier to the section hands,
 Then becoming a section hand when he was grown,
 Afterwards foreman of the gang, until he rose
 To the superintendency of the railroad,
 Living in Chicago,
 Was a veritable slave driver,
 Grinding the faces of labor,
 And a bitter enemy of democracy.
 And I say to you, Spoon River,
 And to you, O republic,
 Beware of the man who rises to power
 From one suspender.

Published in Spoon River Anthology

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