After a return visit to Boston to ask his father’s blessing to set up as a journeyman printer in Philadelphia, Franklin made a trip to see his brother John Franklin in Rhode Island. While he was there, his brother’s friend, Vernon, wrote Franklin a money order for the 35 pounds he (Vernon) had waiting for him in Philadelphia. Franklin collected and then spent Vernon’s money. He also spent years feeling anxious whenever he thought of what he would do if Vernon called for it. Vernon’s money therefore symbolizes a darker side of the capitalist system for which Franklin’s book and his model for self-improvement—especially once it’s distorted into the cliché of the “American Dream”—are largely an unquestioning endorsement. Vernon’s money gives the reader an opportunity to reflect on what might have happened had one fewer of Franklin’s errata been corrected.
Vernon’s Money Symbol Timeline in The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
The timeline below shows where the symbol Vernon’s Money appears in The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.