Most of America's great titans amassed vast, almost incomprehensible fortunes, and their legacies survive to this day in the form of universities, libraries, museums, endowments and foundations. Some lost their wealth and ended their days as paupers. A few, like James Fiske and Charles De Young, were murdered, while others survived attempted assassinations. James King of William is not like any other titan. He never made a huge fortune, but he left an indelible mark on newspaper publishing and banking. California and San Francisco benefited as much from his death as from his life, for James King of William was as strange, implausible and unique as his name. James King was born in 1822 and raised in Georgetown, in the District of Columbia. There were several James Kings in his neighborhood. To avoid confusion and distinguish himself from these other pretenders, King decided to add "of William" (his father's name) to his own. This unusual step was a precursor to the way James King of William would conduct his remarkable, albeit short, life.