Thomas O. Larkin was among the first to test what would be called the "California Dream." Arriving in Mexican California in 1832, he expected to become a rich man--and he did; he became a successful merchant, financier, and land developer. Larkin also found the California life style attractive, and he carved out a place for himself and his family that was part Hispanic, part American. But unlike many of his compatriots, he remained an American citizen.
Larkin became the confidant and friend of California officials, American consul to Mexican California, and secret agent of the President of the United States during the territory's transition from Mexican to American control. A gentle imperialist, he favored change initiated by the Californians themselves. When American invasion interrupted this process, he adjusted and served the newcomers, though he was not always comfortable in this role.
Larkin was driven by both acquisitiveness and patriotism, sentiments sometimes in conflict and sometimes complementary, but both laudable in the context of his times. Always exuberently American, Larkin in his declining years also yearned for the fading Hispanic way of life.