Thomas Larkin is the quintessential story of the American dream. Trekking to California in 1841 during Mexican rule, Larkin was involved socially, politically, and commercially in the vortex of events that brought California into America's ambit. Although he returned triumphantly to New York in 1850, life was not all wine and roses. Larkin was not quite the hero he thought himself to be. Yet, his impact on California and America are as undeniable as the role he could have played had he lived longer. Larkin was born in 1802 outside of Boston. He was 6 when his father died. His mother married a rich man who treated 6-year-old Thomas as his own. Given the prominence of the new family, one wonders why Thomas did not complete a formal education. At 15 he jumped ship to learn the art of making books. Books, he discovered, were wonderful to read, but not likely to make him rich.