Thomas Paul was the son of the son of the first African American admitted to the Baptist ministry in New England, an important missionary and clergyman of Boston. Wallace says Paul was of graceful manners, of amiable and courteous disposition, of respectable talent and attainment, twenty years of age and lighter in his complexion than many of those who denied him the right to study.
While attending Noyes Academy Paul served as a delegate to the 1st annual meeting of the New Hampshire Anti-Slavery Society. After leaving Noyes Academy Paul became a member of the Dartmouth Class of 1841, and was the second black student to graduate from Dartmouth. In a letter to a friend, William F. Wallis, one of Paul’s classmates and an active abolitionist, wrote that Paul had:
’. . .applied for admission to Brown University but from motives of expediency, I suppose, the faculty did not see fit to admit him. A person of the same Christian denomination and good enough to sit with them at the table of God, but not good enough to enter their institution! And why? Because he was ‘guilty’ of possessing a dark skin! Oh hypocrisy! Hypocrisy! There was one southerner frightened from Dartmouth at his dark countenance.’
He became a teacher, spending most of his life in Boston and Providence. He also was a passionate and articulate abolitionist. The Liberator of 19 February 1841 printed a lengthy address which Paul had delivered to the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society pointing out, among other things, that American slavery had generated a 'hatred of the free colored man which makes his condition little superior to that of servitude itself.'